New to us: Shopping Craigslist and garage sales

I grew up with garage sales being a fairly regular Saturday morning activity, but it’s something that’s seldom been part of my adult life.  If I wanted to spend my weekends driving all over the metro area, I’m sure I could score a few good bargains, but if I’m in search of a specific item, it’s easier to turn to Craigslist.

I also strive to limit driving with Craigslist (CL) hunts, usually only looking at ads that list a location within five miles (or a bit more if it’s in a direction that I would be headed by car anyway, like near my MIL’s).  Biking to CL pickups is ideal, of course.

I found myself in just such a situation when I responded to an ad for a booster seat in “South City.”  The term encompasses a rather wide area, so I was delighted to find that the seller lived in my neighborhood, just seven blocks away.  Better yet, when I arrived to pick up the seat, she let me do some early shopping from her selection of toddler boy clothes that she was preparing for the neighborhood garage sale, so, for a very good price, and very little effort on my part, I took care of most of Gabriel’s winter clothing needs.

As an added bonus, I met another mom in the neighborhood, who we’ve since run into at the playground a couple of times, and who offered to contact me as her 4-year-old son continues to outgrow clothes.

While I prefer new to used in almost all areas anyway, used kids’ pajamas are particularly good in my book, since they likely have lower amounts of potentially toxic fire-retardant chemicals remaining.*  As an added bonus, somebody looks absolutely adorable in his “new” footie pajamas, and I rest easier knowing they’ve been through a number of wash cycles.

NOT spontaneously combustible, but possibly in danger of death by cuddles

Though I wasn’t initially planning on it, I took the time to check out some of the neighborhood garage sales that weekend (it was an organized event with over 30 sales on one Saturday).  Instead of lots of driving and in and out of the car, I spent a couple of lovely hours on a fall morning biking around my neighborhood.  For less than $15, I picked up five DVDs, a nice baby gate, and a couple of new toys for little Pookie.

I didn’t find anything that I was REALLY looking for (e.g., nice shoes for Gabriel, a coat rack for our front stairs), and it was money that I would not have spent if I hadn’t gone out, so I think it’s for that best that my garage sale-ing is self-limited.

*”Chemicals used in sleepwear labeled ‘fire resistant’ will remain in the fabric for at least 50 washes.”  Source here — see bottom of page for specifics on pajamas.  It’s not like mattresses or sofas or babies sleeping sweetly in their pajamas are prone to spontaneously bursting into flames.  It’s disgusting that the widespread use of TOXIC fire-retardant chemicals was introduced primarily as a precaution for fires started from another chemical nightmare — cigarettes.


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Good scores! I read somewhere that soap removes the fire retardant chemicals better than detergent does. I have no idea if it’s true or not, and/or where I read it, so probably worth taking with a grain of salt.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      This article also mentions that using soap rather than detergent may remove the chemicals, but it also makes a decent case for avoiding synthetic materials, many of which are inherently very flammable, for pajamas in the first place.

      Until now, we haven’t really done formal “pajamas;” we normally let him sleep in comfortable daytime clothes, which tend to be mostly cotton. I like the idea of him sleeping in something cozy, but I may need to search out some other options. While I think the chemical exposure which we KNOW is happening (though the effects may be poorly studied) is still a bigger deal than the CHANCE of fire exposure, it may not hurt to take some precautions for the latter.

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        I totally agree. Just wish it was easier to avoid them. I’ve been avoiding replacing things like carpets & furniture for years because of fears of exposing my cats to more chemicals. Well… to be honest, that’s only a part of the reason, mostly I’m just cheap and lazy! Anyhow, there have been several studies linking those flame retardants to hyper-thyroid disease in cats, and having suffered through that with one cat, I’d REALLY like to avoid losing any of my current brood to the same scourge.

        At some point I’ll get it together and do a bunch of research – but I fear finding things that are used, cheap & chemical free may be tough if not impossible.

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