We’ve all heard it. “I want to support local or ethical, but I just can’t afford it.” This is basically how big box retailers thrive – they churn out mass volume for cheap labor and cost, and families on a budget flock. This isn’t to shame, because all of us do it. I love my Target runs or saving up coupons to get everything my daughter needs from Gap. I’m writing this because most of us have a heart for being more ethically conscious, and wanting to provide a cleaner, less-polluted world for our kids, but need some help doing it. So if you are from BC or Canada in general, here are some helpful tips for how to afford ethically made products.
Buy during the off-season
Seriously, this is the best time to buy just about anything. I love purchasing winter stuff in June. I get the girls their swimsuits and shoes in September, when school resumes and swimming season is over. When the seasons start to shift along with demand, companies want to shed their leftover inventory and usually do so at a nice discount.
Pay attention to semi-annual sales and warehouse sales
A lot of companies partake in “Christmas in July” and offer at least 15% off, but often 30% or more. They aren’t yet unveiling their fall collection, but there seems to be a mid-year trend of sharing the discounted love. I’ve also noticed a lot of local brands team up to do joint warehouse sales, both online and in person. You can sometimes shop for multiple things at one event and save money doing it.
Go to local pop-up markets
In Vancouver, the lower mainland, and the Fraser valley, we have markets. A lot. Some of them are worth the hype, because they offer door prizes and swag bags if you show up early, and often times those are full of coupons from various vendors inside. Also, vendors will often offer things at a discount or BOGO rate at markets, which can be the real bread and butter for these companies that don’t have a brick and mortar shop. It’s also a great opportunity to actually look at the items in person and get to know the owners behind them.
Delete your email subscriptions to big box retailers
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I throw my email like candy to stores that I need a quick coupon from, and then I forget about it and end up seeing their emails all the time. Not only are a ton of subscription emails annoying, constantly seeing them makes us tempted to spend. They get creative with their subject line and often times, we over-spend because we constantly see deals that are too good to pass up. I love being a savvy shopper, but I have to seriously ask myself if I truly want or need something first. A good deal isn’t all that helpful if you constantly go for them. This helps you save money, too, for the ethical things you really want.
But DO subscribe to the small/ethical businesses you want to see, and follow their social media
Brands will often give sneak-peeks of new collections or discounts to their subscribers, and I have found the good ones don’t spam me with emails. If you follow their Instagram and Facebook pages, you will be able to see all their upcoming markets, exclusive discounts, warehouse sales, and more. Plus it really helps to read other comments and reviews from people who use their products if you haven’t yet.
Join buy/sell/insider groups for that brand
The nice thing about ethically-made clothing is that it usually lasts way longer than big box cheap stuff. And the nice thing about kid clothing is our babes grow out of it and we can resell. This is a great chance for you to score gently-used clothes at a fraction of the cost, keep more clothing out of landfill, and even make some of your money back if you decide to sell. As a bonus, a lot of the owners will interact in the groups and offer giveaways. Recently, Jax and Lennon asked people in their VIP Facebook group to help name some of their fall color fabrics, in exchange for a gift card. Ethical clothing in exchange for creativity? Sign me up.
Save Black Friday for your ethical companies
Seriously, Black Friday is frickin’ awful for consumerism, landfill waste, employee treatment, and basically all of humanity. Most likely, ethical companies aren’t making people work ridiculous hours on holidays or fall victim to stampedes, and you can feel good about supporting them while saving serious money. I could write an entire post on its own about Black Friday being a detriment to families and our planet, but it’s a great day for small businesses and a wonderful way to reclaim the day. Chances are, you’ve been saving up, and they are more than happy to provide the traditional discounts associated with that day.
I love supporting local and ethical small businesses, but I understand it’s hard – especially in our sector of BC, where everything costs a fraction of your soul. Sometimes a sale just isn’t possible, but saving up for an heirloom piece, like a dress or sweater, can be rewarding when you finally cash in. It feels good to help a small business out, and fewer things are cozier than high quality fabrics.