Don't buy new toys, buy used! I started looking on Craigslist and KSL. However, I found that people were trying to sell old, overly used and beat up toys for way too much. So I went to plan B and scored big at our local thrift store, Deseret Industries! (You could also try Good Will, Salvation Army, or any other thrift store.)
I was overwhelmed by the toy isle at first. Many things are dirty, broken, and it's a jumbled mess. However, if you look closely and really dig through the rubble, you can find some amazing things! I got tons of books, toys, and videos for $0.25 - $2.00. The books were in amazing shape, I was so surprised.
Here are some tips for finding good toys at a thrift store:
- Dig around. There's lots of junk mixed in with the good stuff.
- Handle the toy. Pick it up, shake it around, spin it, open it, push all the buttons. Make sure all the parts and pieces are there. Don't settle for a broken toy, there are too many good ones out there just waiting for you!
- Look past the dirt and grime. Most toys are pretty nasty, so just look at the potential of what a bit of disinfectant and some lysol wipes can do.
- Take a chance. They toys won't have batteries in them (I've never picked up a toy with batteries in it!) so after inspecting everything, be willing to take a chance and try it.
- Avoid surfaces that can't be washed thoroughly. I would avoid toys with fabric or cloth on them, unless they can be thrown in the washer (like stuffed animals). Hard surfaces can be disinfected much easier.
- Go at the beginning of the day and during the week. The stuff is less picked through then.
- However, items get put on the shelves all throughout the day so just go frequently if you didn't have luck at first!
- Open the DVD boxes to check for scratches on the DVD's.
- Check the book section too. I got some amazing pop-up books, sound books, and all sorts of general children's books that are in amazing shape.
Here's the bundle I got the last time I went. Every toy was $0.75 - $1.00, and the movies were either $1 or $2.
I also like to buy VHS tapes, in addition to DVD's. I have a VHS/DVD player that actually converts VHS to DVD...so I buy the VHS tapes because they are cheaper, then burn them to DVD so I can travel with them easier. I really recommend investing in one!
Great prices on toys!
I have found lots of great Leap Frog toys. They are expensive and are great for child development.
This drum is my favorite. It's a Leap Frog learning toy. It has multiple settings, and illuminates letters or shapes on the top every time he hits it! I just looked it up and is $13.98 at Target...I bought it for $0.75 and it works perfectly!
My baby loved the new toys and books (not pictured), and continues to love them. And hey, if he gets tired of them, breaks, or loses a toy, I'm only out about $0.75. Can't beat that!
Happy playing and saving to you!
(By the way, this is a great baby gift idea! Buy a huge basket of used toys and books. Trust me: as a mom I would appreciate them just as much as a new toy...and possibly even more because I would get so many in one basket!)