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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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Keeping growing kids in clothing now as easy as 1,2,3

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There’s no doubt that raising kids adds oodles of expenses to a family’s budget. To help alleviate some of that pressure, a businesswoman has taken a longtime tradition of trading and sharing baby clothes to the next level, making dressing fast-growing kids as easy as 1,2,3.

Char Diefenbacher’s 123 Trade With Me is a childrens’ clothing shop in Elmira where customers can buy at discounted prices or swap gently used items for even less. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Char Diefenbacher’s 123 Trade With Me is a childrens’ clothing shop in Elmira where customers can buy at discounted prices or swap gently used items for even less. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
“There have been quite a few customers that have done some trading and they said ‘this is awesome.’ Because they just spent a couple of dollars and they went out with a bunch of clothes again,” said owner of Elmira’s 123 Trade With Me, Char Diefenbacher.

Herself a mother of two, she talks about the challenges of moms dressing their rapidly-growing tots.

“I’ve always enjoyed business and with the kids, you have to have something where you have enough time at home as well. I love kids’ clothes and dressing up my kids. With buying new clothes, we always need more because they just grow so fast,” she said.

“I was just thinking one day about how so many people trade [kids’ clothes] with my sisters and my family and how that worked. And I thought it would be really neat if other people could do this kind of thing; just come in and trade items and if it would be a lot cheaper than to buy new clothes.”

Trading clothes cuts down on waste and optimizes the use of a good-quality item, she added.

Trading baby and kids’ hand-me-downs between friends, relatives and siblings is not a new concept, but making the practice into a business helps bring the tradition to all parents, Diefenbacher said.

“If you are new to the area, you don’t have anybody to do that with, so then it’s nice if there are things like this. There are also online stores that are doing the same thing with trading clothes, but I always find I like to feel [the clothing] and know if it feels right.”

Located in Elmira’s Village Shops (10 Church St. W.), 123 Trade With Me, is full of a rustic charm in an open concept, modern space. Its attempt at a cozy, kid-and-family-friendly atmosphere, filled with bright colours and cartoon owls, was created through a family effort, Diefenbacher said.

Before the store opened and she started to trade, Diefenbacher hit the consignment stores, and collected good-quality used kids’ clothes from relatives. Now, with the trades in full swing, the inventory virtually comes in on its own.

The space reflects the reduce-reuse-recycle mentality of her business concept, as well. Books for sale are displayed in cheerfully painted re-used crates hung up as shelves and the clothing is neatly organized into sections depending on price range and category. Her brother Colin even custom-made the clothing racks and counter, and installed the soft lighting.

“My husband Chad, he has been an awesome help and supported me in starting up the store. I couldn’t have done it without him,” she added.

So far, the store offers children’s clothing and used books in good quality, but Diefenbacher steers away from selling toys. Her standards for accepting and trading clothing and books are listed on the store website at www.123tradewithme.com.

Curious about the process? This is how the trades and purchases work: Patrons bring in their clothing and can sell, trade them for other items and get a deal on the price, or buy the products outright. Items are split into three categories, with some items priced at $1 to trade and $3 to buy, others traded at $2 and sold for $6, or $3 and $9, hence, 1,2,3 Trade With Me.

The trading fee allows the running of the store and covers overhead costs of staff. Diefenbacher’s plan is to encourage trading as the cost to buy outright is triple the price of trading.

The store is located on the lower level of the Village Shops. For more information visit the website or call 226-749-1009.

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