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Kids & secondhand stores – an introduction

When you think back to your childhood summers, what do you remember?

There has been a trend lately to romanticize (perhaps overly?) the simpler ways in which we were raised. There are strong arguments on both sides, but I will say this – our kids’ relationship with “stuff” is very, very different than mine was as a kid. Sure, many of us had plenty of toys and even a few trendy things we HAD to have. But most of us didn’t have hundreds of dollars worth of toys we barely played with. Sadly this can’t be said of many kids these days.

How do we change this? How do we raise kids to respect their belongings and appreciate what they have? Can buying used and secondhand items play a role in this?


Visiting secondhand stores was always a treat for me as a kid, especially in small towns while we were travelling or visiting family. There were always unexpected treasures to find – and it was never about trends, or what my friends had, or what I had seen in a commercial. It was me, my imagination, and whatever object had struck me in that moment. What did I see in it? What could it become if it were mine? These imaginings are wonderful to encourage in our children.

And never underestimate what a tour through a secondhand or antique store might do for your summer as well.

Last weekend I found myself in a roadside antique store and practically twirled from happiness. I recognized a few toys from my childhood, and my companion found a few items that reminded her of her grandmother’s house. We were thrilled. A little nostalgia goes a long way, and it can be a lovely contrast to walking the aisles of your nearest discount department store pushing a shopping cart, weekend after weekend.

Perhaps conversations about how long certain toys last and how long their interest may remain in an item is a good place to start. When our kids want to buy something new, I’m not against buying things for my kids, but I like to know that they will see the value in an item and get a lot of use and enjoyment out of each one. Sometimes this means saying no to certain things, as a parent. But perhaps we could present the option to purchase something secondhand as an option, instead of saying no. We could also encourage our kids to sell certain items they are done playing with in order to pay for something they want.

Recognizing that cost and value are two different concepts could serve our kids well in the future. Perhaps they will learn to look beyond a price tag and make more thoughtful decisions.

Perhaps some of us could use a little of that reminding as well.

Do you remember visiting secondhand stores as a kid? Did your parents ever purchase anything used that you were aware of?

We’d love to hear your memories!


Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

One Response to “Kids & secondhand stores – an introduction”


I don’t remember visiting many toy stores of any kind as a kid, maybe that is why my kids have so much now, from vintage, classic, mountains of Lego, to everything else in between.

This article made me instantly think of the She-Ra Castle Toy I found for my ..daughter last year on this site. She loves this ‘well-loved with pieces missing’ toy as much as I treasured mine as my only trendy toy I really ever got as a really little kid.

My other comment is pertaining to kids understanding value of things. Mine may have a lot of stuff, but as they outgrow things they sell them on this site, and they get to keep the money to save or spend as they choose. This way we do not end up with too much stuff, and there is a constant flow of things in and out which keeps imaginations flowing. They may be sore for a sec at the thought of something going, but they sure instantly forget about it when they have cold hard cash in their hands:)


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