Great kids' clothes at Goodwill

Charlotte (WBTV)  Let's be realistic, as fast as kids grow and as tough as kids are on clothing, spending a fortune on their back to school wardrobe seems like a waste of money. That's why editor and blogger Rachael Sutherland shops for her kids at Goodwill.  "If you have 100 dollars in your back to school shopping budget and you blow it all on a pair of jeans that's it, that's all you got so you'll be wearing those every day," said Sutherland.

She brought several students together to demonstrate the kinds of mall store finds you'll uncover at Goodwill stores.  One of our models wore a beautiful green sleeveless top.  "That cost four dollars at Goodwill, it originally came from Banana Republic," Sutherland told me. 

Ivy Walker's daughter Sydney is a senior this year and she's all about getting a car.  Walker encourages her daughter to check out the great finds at Goodwill because the more they save, the closer she is to a car. "She likes the idea of being able to save that money because right now a car is very important to her and she realized where we can save in one area we can use in another."

Perhaps the nicest thing about a Goodwill purchase is the money you spend makes some real and positive change in our community through job training and job placement programs.  I've been in the job training offices on Freedom Drive and met some of the students whose lives have transformed through computer training.

So if you still are on the search for a few key pieces for your student's school wardrobe, consider taking a trip to a Goodwill store.  It's a nice lesson for your kids in how to show savvy and how to give back to the community you live in.

Below you'll find some of Sutherland's back to school shopping tips for parents.

Shop in advance:  I try to shop a season ahead for my children in retail stores, and I do the same at Goodwill. I am not afraid to buy a size or two ahead if the quality is good.

Know what you need: I check for stains and signs of wear, and I have a running checklist of their wardrobe needs.

Don't forget shoes! I picked up a new-with-tags pair of pink faux-Ugg boots at the Concord Goodwill last August. They were a bit too big, but once the weather cooled, and her feet grew, they were her shoe of choice. They were so loved, they were repeatedly washed, permanently stained and frayed. But, from a cost-per-wear perspective, they more than justified the $2.49 price tag.

Take your time: While finding designer labels for $2.79 (per piece of childrens' clothing) is exciting, take a moment to look for signs of wear and or stains. This is especially important for the knee areas of boys' pants (prone to rips, snags and wear).

Know what you want: Both of my children are narrow in the waist, so we tend to have to size up for length. That means we must have adjustable waist pants at all times, so we can custom-fit at the waist.

Be realistic: Chances are, your 9-year-old son isn't going to care that those brown cords retail for $42 or more at J. Crew. Practical perspective is always a good thing, especially when it comes to kids.

Most kids clothing at Goodwill is $2.79 or less per piece. Outerwear is $3.99. Children's shoes are $2.99. In theory, it is possible to get an entire outfit (shirt, pants shoes and jacket) for less than $15 at Goodwill.