Is Once Upon a Child Worth It?

I keep wondering is Once Upon a Child worth it for the effort it would take to sort out clothes and take them over there. Like most parents, we have tons of used baby clothing and used toddler clothes that are in excellent condition. Since babies and toddlers grow so fast, unless the clothing gets stained, it almost always ends up in good condition since they outgrow them before they can wear them out.

once upon a baby toddler in overalls

Tax Deduction for Donating Baby Clothes

There are a lot of ways to get some money for used children’s clothing. The simplest is to donate clothing to a charitable organization. Any IRS 503(c)(b) non-profit organization will do. Unless you have your deduction limited for some reason, you can deduct the “value” of donated clothing from your income taxes. (This deduction was limited by the Trump tax law, but since those deductions are set to expire soon, I’m going to leave it here.)

If you are in the 30 percent tax bracket, for example, your taxes are reduced by $3 for every $10 of clothing you donate. (This is overly simplified, but it works to give an approximate idea.) When it comes to valuing the clothes for a tax deduction, there are a lot of rules, but the one most people use is to deduct the “thrift-shop value” of the clothing, which is essentially what you would pay to buy the same item from a thrift shop. Some charitable organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army have approximate values for common items posted on their websites. TurboTax also includes an estimated value if you do your income taxes with TurboTax.

It might not sound like much, but if you count every shirt you donate at just $2, and you donate 50 shirts, adds up to $100 and a savings of $30 on your taxes. Not bad for putting everything in a box and hauling it down to the donation center.

Selling Baby and Toddler Clothes as Garage Sale

Another way to get money for your used kids’ clothing is to hold a garage sale. In this case, if you sold 50 shirts for $1 each, you would get $50. If you could get $2 a piece, you would get $100. That is cash in the pocket which is better than a tax deduction.

The catch is that there are a lot of people selling a lot of children’s clothing at a lot of garage sales every weekend. In other words, how much baby clothing you can sell depends on how many buyers show up willing and able to buy. Generally, to attract traffic to a garage sale, you need more than just a pile of baby clothes, so unless you have other stuff to round out your garage sale, this might not be the way to go.

Children’s Clothing Consignment Shops and Once Upon a Child

A consignment shop takes your stuff and tries to sell it. They keep a percentage, often half, and you get the rest. Since a consignment shop doesn’t want merchandise piling up, and only makes a profit when items sell within a reasonable time, many of them mark items down as time goes by. Your percentage remains the same, but the selling value drops.

This model does not necessarily lend itself to clothing since the items aren’t sold for a high enough dollar amount to warrant all the necessary tracking. Thus, used clothing consignment stores will often just buy the clothes directly from you.

Once Upon a Child is one such children’s secondhand store. You take in your children’s clothing, and other items, and they make you an offer. Is Once Upon a Child worth it?

Is Once Upon a Child Worth It?

Here is the deal. Used clothing is one thing. Quality used clothing is another. While it is obvious that clothes such be in good condition and without stains or tears, they also need to be brand name. Clothing from Carter’s and Jumping Beans, for example, may draw an offer. Anything from a department store, Target, or off-brand catalog or whatever, will not.

The Target RedCard might save you some money though.

I took several boxes of neatly folded clothing, totaling well over 100 pieces, and my Once Upon a Child store offered to buy only 22 of them for a grand total of just over $27. It’s enough to purchase some fun kids movies on Amazon Prime or even DVD if I see a good sale.

If you are going to sell your clothes to Once Upon a Child or another children’s second-hand clothing store, here are some tips.

  1. Take Small Amounts – Don’t take a huge lot all at once. This isn’t a good way to clean out your basement, it is a good way to clean out your drawers.  It takes a while to go through and you lose count of what you are selling and at what price. In my example above, I got just over $1 for each piece. Is that a good deal? Considering I already tried a garage sale and plan to donate the rest, it’s better than nothing, but with such a huge load, I lost control over saying yes or no to specific pieces.
  2. Separate Your Brand Names – The Once Upon a Child website lists their “preferred” brand names. Start by taking in just the clothing you have that matches that list. This maximizes the chances of you getting an offer on most of it. If you want to throw in a few extra pieces just to see what happens, go ahead.
  3. Don’t Expect Much – A dollar for a piece of baby clothes or for toddler clothes isn’t a lot. Of course, you won’t get much more donating or selling on your own, either. The good news is you can always say no.
  4. Check What Is For Sale First – You get a 20 percent bonus on the amount offered if you take store credit instead of a check. That is only a good deal if you already want to buy. Forcing yourself to buy things just to take advantage of store credit doesn’t make sense when you can get cash. Only take the store credit if you know you want to buy cheaper baby clothes.
  5. Don’t Bother Without Brand Names – The way the OUC business works is that they buy brand name clothing that they can resell for used, but still with the boost from being a brand name price. I saw long sleeve Jumping Beans shirts on sale for $7.50. That comes out to just under half the typical online retail price of $16 and even less than what you would pay at full price in a store. That math doesn’t work for baby clothes that you bought for $3.50 on sale at Target though.

Is It Worth Selling Kid’s Clothes to Once Upon a Child?

I don’t mean to single out Once Upon a Child here. It just happens to be the place I went. I assume that most other kid’s consignment shops work similarly. However, I think the key is to determine whether you would get more value out of the tax deduction than out of the secondhand sale.

For example, if you are in the 30 percent tax bracket, and a nice sweater provides a $5.00 deduction, then you are netting $1.50 off your income taxes. If OUC or whoever is only offering a dollar, then you are losing money.

On the other hand, they cut you a check immediately, whereas you’ll have to wait until you file your taxes to reap the benefit of the donation.

If you want cash now, Once Upon a Child is a decent alternative.

If you can never rack up enough tax deductions, consider donating the clothing and taking the tax deduction instead.

4 thoughts on “Is Once Upon a Child Worth It?”

  1. My wife and I lost our child at 7 months. We were destroyed by he passing. Obviously at that time we had purchased a lot of clothes and items for him. We took the brand new clothes with tags and price tag to Once Upon a Child. They offered me $41.85 for 49 brand new with tag items. Talk about taking advantage of a deep grief and loss. This company should be ashamed of themselves. Pure greed and predator upon the grief stricken people just to make a buck. Do not consign, sell or buy from this low life company. Shame shame shame on you.

    • I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t say that enough. OUAC is a franchise, every store is owned by a different person, the parent company is actually relatively uninvolved except in the pricing program. The pricing program is set up assuming all products coming in are used. and is advertised to you the seller as you get 30% of what the store tries to sell things for the same day you bring the items in, no waiting for it to sell or having to take anything back 90 days later, and the store sells clothing items for 70% off full retail value also advertised. these details are easily available both online and right where they would have signed you in. The employees do nothing more than ensure items show little to no signs of wear and tear and put it into a computer under size and brand, that’s it and they don’t have a way around it. I’m so sorry you felt hurt and insulted by the offer generated but, again, these details were easily and readily available.

  2. This company is dishonest and they under pay you. I think it’s better to try to sell it
    Somewhere else and get little more of what they offering you. They didn’t
    Even honored my birthday coupon and I am not going to recommend nor bring
    My stuff for them to sell. I guess when you have money you don’t care if
    You get robbed but not everyone has to be a rich. I’m not happy with the place
    I don’t recommend them to anybody.

  3. I had my experience with selling to the store for first time last week. I signed a waiver when I dropped him off saying that they would not be responsible for lost items. When I picked my clothing up they offered me $71. I took the $71 and the remaining items that they would not purchase. After looking over the receipt of the items they bought all of the dresses that I had Taken in we’re not on the receipt and not returned to me. It feels like they stole the dresses. A few of the dresses were from a different country. They were long gowns. Designed for girls in a different culture. You cannot find them in the US. They took these gowns for me and did not pay for them. They were beautiful gowns. I could walk into the store and point out and prove they were mine and not paid for. So I suggest steering clear of Once Upon a Child.


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