As the mom of two growing boys, I have to purchase kid clothes very frequently.
My kids grow at least a few inches a season, and there is always a new hole in the knee of someone’s jeans. One of them is always in need of socks, shirts, sweat pants — you name it. And don’t even get me started on how quickly they outgrow their sneakers.
I’m on a tight budget, so when it comes to buying clothes I try to cut corners as much as possible. My younger son basically lives in his big brother’s hand-me-downs. When I need to shop, I look for bargains (either in store or online) or turn to used clothes.
Although I wouldn’t buy certain items used (underwear and shoes are a no for me), I am happy to buy most things second-hand whenever possible. It’s good for my pocketbook, reduces waste and there is something endearing about dressing my boys in well-loved clothes that come with a history.
Because I am a busy working mom, I almost never make it to thrift shops. There are very few decent ones near me anyway. So I usually buy my kids’ used clothes on Ebay. Ebay has generally worked well for me; I almost always buy their winter coats and snowsuits there, for example.
My pain point with Ebay is you have to wade through a lot of junk to find quality used kids’ clothing. Search results are flooded with sponsored posts or items that don’t match my search criteria. I’ll search for “Boy’s Snowsuit, Size 12,” and get results for an adult snowsuit, or snowsuits adorned with pink (which would work for some 12-year-old boys, but not mine).
All of this frustration is why I was excited to try Kidizen, a new online used kids’ clothing “marketplace” designed for and by moms. Founded in 2014 by Mary Fallon and Dori Graff, Kidizen allows users to sell second-hand children’s clothing and set up online “shops” where they can showcase their wares. The site’s description emphasizes community and the eco-friendly aspect of reselling.
When I first went to the Kidizen website, I was a little confused about exactly what Kidizen was and whether it would suit my needs. On the website in particular (they have an app, too), there is a strong emphasis on sellers, rather than buyers, and I wondered if I would need to become a seller to purchase clothing.
When I downloaded the Kidizen app, the situation became clearer. I did need to set up an account, but setting up a “shop” was optional. As I created my account and logged into the app, I understood the “community” aspect of the company as well. Kidizen sets your account up like a social media profile. You have a username (starting with an @ symbol, similar to Twitter or Instagram), a page (like Facebook), a profile picture and even followers!
I didn’t go beyond a profile picture for my page. As I began to browse clothing options for my sons, however, I saw that many of the sellers had personalized their pages with detailed “About” sections and cute cover pictures. Each user earns a user-generated rating as well (similar to Ebay). This feature helps you buy and sell with a level of confidence.
My sons were in need of dress shirts (well, at least dressier than their worn t-shirts), so I went shopping. The interface on the app was much easier to navigate than the website.
As for the search mode, it was superior to Ebay. When I typed in my boys’ genders and ages, I saw options for clothing that matched up. I used the most basic elements of the search engine (age, gender, clothing category), but I could have customized my search even more, filtering for specific brands and conditions (new with tag, new without tag, etc.).
My searches generated plenty of options, and I enjoyed navigating through them. Anytime I saw an item I was interested in, I not only read the description, but clicked over the the page of the seller. It felt like a hybrid of Ebay and Facebook to me, and I enjoyed it (I’m a Facebook addict).
I ended up ordering three items: two collared shirts (one for each of my boys) and a retro Nintendo t-shirt for my older son because I couldn’t resist.
I was able to pay through PayPal. Now that I set up my payment method, I will be able to use it each time I launch the app, without logging into my PayPal account again.
Once I purchased my items, I received personalized notes from each seller, thanking me and guaranteeing that the items would be shipped promptly. There was one SNAFU, however. One of the sellers sent me a note telling me she’d already sold a shirt I had purchased. It seemed a bit unprofessional. To be fair, though, she told me right away, apologized profusely and I was immediately refunded.
My only gripe with her error was that I needed to go back through all my search results and find a replacement shirt. I ended up finding another shirt from the same seller. Even though she’d made the mistake, I was impressed by how quickly and personally she’d communicated with me. It was a real mom-to-mom moment, because I can imagine my absent-minded “mom brain” making a similar mistake.
Both of my packages arrived quickly, and I was satisfied with my purchases. I wouldn’t say the prices I paid were bargain rates — if I had purchased the same clothes from a local thrift store, they would have been less expensive. But the prices were similar to what I’d pay for most Ebay items, with the only caveat being that there is no bidding with Kidizen, and sometimes items sell cheaper on Ebay if you are lucky and the bidding rate doesn’t get too high.
Still, the clothes were affordable, and many were brand names that were in great condition. For example, the Wrangler shirt I bought for my son was new with tags, and was about 10 dollars cheaper than buying it new from the retailer. Most of all, there was a value in the feeling of knowing I was doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint — along with that warm, fuzzy feeling of sharing in the circle of life with my fellow moms and their kiddos.
Besides the items themselves, I received a handwritten note from the user who had mishandled my previous order, thanking me for my purchase, and saying she hopes my “young man” will enjoy his shirt. It was a simple gesture, but it made me smile, and contributed to the sense of Kidizen having a personalized feel that’s missing from most online shopping sites.
Overall, using Kidizen was a positive experience. Once I downloaded the app (again, the website doesn’t feel user-friendly), my experience was easy and enjoyable. I was most impressed with the community feel of the app, and I think my fellow moms would value that aspect of it as well. I will definitely be opening up the app again — and heaven knows it will be soon, considering how quickly my kids outgrow their clothes.
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