In 2020 I completed a year of not buying clothes, which became the impetus for me learning how to make my own clothes. This year, 64 days (to date) of being at COVID-19 Alert Level 3 or 4 has meant no window shopping or in-person purchases. At the same time, I’ve been preparing for the arrival of our little one, with no access to baby or maternity clothing shops.
Both of these have resulted in a fair bit of online shopping, and a rekindling of my old love affair with virtual bargain hunting. I used to do a lot of this in the UK, where eBay was stuffed to the brim with second hand Oasis, Warehouse, Ted Baker and French Connection – my favourite brands at the time. I’ve always enjoyed hunting down a deal, whether at T K Maxx, Oxfam or online.
These days my tastes and requirements have changed, not least as I’m now sporting a significant eight-month pregnancy bump. The impact of COVID-19 has also changed things. Fewer flights means that ordering from Australia and the UK takes longer – and the US has stopped postal deliveries to us altogether. Even ordering from within New Zealand is no guarantee of a speedy arrival; the increased demand has placed our courier companies in meltdown. We’re still waiting for the cot mattress we ordered 25 days ago, dispatched from a warehouse in south Auckland, a whole 18km from our front door.
Despite the delays, popping my head up like a meerkat when I hear the now-familiar sound of a courier van approaching, online deliveries have been something to look forward to in an otherwise fairly uneventful and repetitive time at home. And while deliveries have to remain contactless, I know what all my local couriers look like, even if we only ever exchange waves, thumbs-ups and nods of recognition through the window.
Whereas I might once have over-ordered from Asos for choice, knowing I’d send things back, it’s not always feasible to do that now. Many companies have stopped offering free delivery and returns, meaning a hefty international courier bill and nothing to show for it. And with the delays, the time from placing your order to getting your refund on returns now creates a cash flow issue that it didn’t used to.
Knowing I would need my maternity clothes for a limited time, and that baby’s time in each size will be even shorter, I wouldn’t have wanted to buy everything new even if shops were open. As with my year of not buying clothes, it’s a question of money and environmental impact.
My online bargain hunting for baby has provided a small source of entertainment and a sense of achievement in an otherwise potentially boring, depressing lockdown. I scored our stroller, car seat and capsule base, including rain and sun cover, for $300 (around £150). It’s a brand that would have set us back $1,430 (£715) if bought new. Then there was the bottle steriliser and warmer, for $40 instead of $230, or the nappy bin for $5 instead of $70.
Buying baby’s clothes has been no less satisfying. New Zealand brand Nature Baby offers great quality and beautiful, but very expensive, baby items. We likely would not have bought anything from there if second hand wasn’t an option. Through TradeMe, though, I’ve bought a pair of leggings, a cardigan, two jackets, a pair of bootees, and the cutest tiki print onesie. As long as they’re all still in good condition once our little one has outgrown them, I’ll sell them on and – hopefully – recoup all the money I spent.
The time I spend scouting for bargains, along with my talents for getting a good deal and selling things on (often for a small profit) has not gone unnoticed. This week Liam set me a challenge of trying to make a profit on a $100 TradeMe spend. Today I clicked ‘buy now’ on five listings – and I look forward to reporting back on how well I do in my next post!
See you soon.