You would not imagine the amount of questions I get on a weekly basis about my toddler’s wardrobe.
I even had someone tell me once that they needed to know my secrets for making extra cash because they could not imagine spending as much as I do on baby clothes.
Well, folks, my secret is BST.
What? What in the heck is BST?
BUY – SELL – TRADE
When my Max was about two months old, a sweet mama friend [my husband may disagree because she is to blame for my BST obsession] of mine knew we loved a certain brand of baby clothes and added me to a buy, sell, trade group on Facebook specifically for that brand. Basically, this buy, sell, trade group is a group of mamas [and daddies] across the nation and Canada. These women buy, sell, and trade their babies’ clothes.
Within only a few hours of being added to this group, I had purchased two blankets and three pajamas for my tiny baby. Fast forward twenty four months, and I have sent over 750 of my own Paypal invoices selling Max’s clothes to fund his next sizes in the identical pairs he had grown out of. I have spent more time and money than I would like to admit, but somewhere along the way, the mamas I have “met” have become closer friends and lifelines to me than I could have imagined. In addition, the ability to both sell and trade has enabled me to dress Max in far more than I could have had I just been buying off of the racks.
Let’s get down to business
So, while I do not consider myself an expert, I thought I would shed some light on the BST World that goes far beyond just a single brand of clothes. You may have landed in a smocked baby clothes group, an applique lovers group, a leather moccasin group, a hipster romper group, a saltwater sandal group, an initial specific group, or a luxury brand group [all often affectionately referred to as “boards”]. If you have found yourself in one of these groups and have no clue where to turn, here is a basic guide. I will warn you, however, that before you get ahead of yourself and geek out over the first cute outfit that pops up on your feed, you should read the pinned post for that particular buy, sell, trade group. I say this because each Facebook group of BSTers has their own often very specific set of rules that you MUST follow on how to claim, pay, sell, and ship.
The reason we are all really here – BUYING
In my opinion, the initial hope when you land on one of these boards is that you will be able to score some cute clothes for your kid for cheap. It is technically consignment, right? I would say that from my experience, this is at least the case a little over half of the time. Most mamas are selling clothes that their babies have worn and grown out of to fund clothes for the next season.
“Is that the price for used kids’ clothes?”
It happens at least once a day where some newbie on a board will ask: “Is that list price a typo?” “You mean $15 not $150, right?” “These are used kids’ clothes, right?” Be prepared to have sticker shock. Keep in mind that some of these brands “retire” items after their first production. If there is a specific old print or style that is retired or only released in limited quantities, the list price for the item on the BST board may be fair market value – meaning the price people are willing to pay for that item.
NWT, NWOT, EUC, VGUC, GUC, PLAY
Like mentioned above, each specific group or board will have their own specific rules. I feel pretty confident, however, using these abbreviations as universal buy, sell, trade lingo.
NWT – new with tags – pretty self explanatory. This means that the person has purchased but never popped the tags off or even washed the item. This can also be NIB for new in bag or new in box.
NWOT – new without tags – this means that the bag or box has been trashed and the tags have been popped but the item has never been washed and certainly not worn.
EUC – excellent used condition – This is a favorite way to buy. Basically, this item has likely been washed and maybe worn for a picture but rarely much more than that.
VGUC – very good used condition – I feel like this is the most common way to get a deal off of the BSTs. This item has been worn more than one time but does not show much wear, has no holes, and most often does not look “used.”
GUC – good used condition – I would venture to say that these items have been worn a good bit. They show wear and do not look brand new but likely have a good bit of life left. The seller will propably say if there are treated or untreated stains, piling, or major wash wear.
PLAY – play clothes – these are really well-loved items with a little bit of life left to be squeezed out of them. I like to think of these items as day care clothes or even for when my mama babysits. Sorry Mom.
You say “purge” like it is a good thing?
When selling on the boards, items can be listed individually or closet purge style. When doing a closet purge, the thread is often labeled as a purge with a picture of most things to be purged and the sizes to be purged are listed. Each item will be listed individually under the main purge photo. You should claim items in the reply section to each item listen. Sellers often combine shipping or offer discounts for purchasing multiple items from their purge.
This is the good stuff. This can get really fun … and heated. When Max was tiny and I was up feeding up in the late hours of the night, there was almost always a purge happening. There was this one purge that started around 10pm one night. I woke to feed Max and ended up staying up until 2am. I was laughing so hard at and with the sleep-deprived mamas and trying to not wake my sleeping baby or my husband. Two years later and the mama that did this purge is one of my dear friends.
If you claim, you buy.
Most boards stick to the principle that if you claim an item, you buy the item. Buy at your own risk. You should know that these are used baby clothes and should read descriptions carefully, because when you claim, you buy. After claiming with something like, “me!” “I want it” “want” “sold,” or “[email protected],” the seller will invoice you at your email address through Paypal, send a money request through paypal, or ask you to gift the money through Paypal or Venmo. Most sellers expect payment within 12-24 hours of the claim or invoice or request being sent. Do not hesitate on payment and get yourself labeled for nonpayment. BST reputations are a real thing. Just hang out on a board for a little while and you will get the picture.
You have probably seen the “Hide Packages From Husband” door mat advertised on social media. I can guarantee you it was designed by a BSTer. It will not take long after you join a BST board or two for the brightly colored polymailers to start arriving at your door step. Your husband will be concerned. Promise.
Your best bet for selling is to first pick the group you want to try to sell the item on. Do a search in that group for your item or a similar item to get a sense for what that particular item usually goes for. When in doubt, message the admin of the group you are trying to sell in and ask for a suggested price.
Be conservative when describing the condition of your item. In my opinion, you would rather your buyer be pleased with the condition and think that you had listed it for worse than it actually is instead of being disappointed in your listing it for better.
My Paypal love affair
Once your item sells, most groups expect shipment within 24-72 hours. If you invoice through Paypal, the buyers address will be available on Paypal. If you obtain payment another way, the buyer can send you a private message with their address.
Most frequent BSTers believe that the best way to invoice and ship is through Paypal. You are able to send an invoice, receive money, and print shipping labels right off of Paypal. But, it surely is not the only way to do it. Writing on a label at the post office is 100% acceptable.
My best piece of advice when shipping, and another reason I love Paypal, is tracking. I learned this the hard way. You should always pay for and provide tracking with the items you ship. This way, you can keep track of items sent while in transit, especially if a delay occurs.
Get yourself a pack of polymailers on Amazon for less than $20. Even if you do not plan on selling and shipping a ton of baby clothes, you will be surprised how handy these polymailers are. You can ship just about anything in them. Polymailers are my favorite way to send gifts these days.
When shipping, you should “double bag” the item you are shipping. This means that you should first put the item in a ziplock or polymailer, then put that ziplock or polymailer in the polymailer you plan to ship in. This prevents most “in transit” issues.
You can ship your items via regular old snail mail or use priority mail for the higher ticketed items. And that is it! You are done! You can check in with your buyer after a few days to make sure their received the item, but that certainly isn’t required.
This for that? BST trading is not a lost art.
I hopped into the BST World around the end of 2015. The art of trading was bigger then than it is now, but it is not gone forever. Trading means exactly what it sounds like. One mama has something that another mama wants and that first mama has something the second mama wants. There are even trades, trades than also include funds, and there are temporary trades that come with a promise to return the items when the babies grow out of the outfits. Most of these exchanges are done via private message.
Have you run for the hills yet?
If you have made it this far, you have officially passed the crash course in buying, selling, and trading baby clothes. As long as you can all remember to read the pinned posts for each group you navigate through, you should be good to go. And have fun with it. You will “meet” some amazing mamas who are doing their best to get through each day just like you.
When we lost our Theo last February, the mamas I “met” in my very first buy, sell, trade group rallied around us. They sent everything from meals to stuffed animals loaded with prayer. I heard from so many broken-hearted mamas that had been there and were basically holding me from a million miles away.
I sleep better knowing that my buy, sell, trade mama friends are out there. I know that at any given moment and even in the middle of the night, someone is awake and equipped to go over fever protocol with me or ease my concerns about delayed speech, preschool programs, and picky toddlers. I say “met” because I have not met all of these mamas in person, though I talk to some of them daily. However, we have driven to Oklahoma and Birmingham just to hug some of their necks. Crazy? Maybe. I call it better off and well-dressed.