It May As Well Be A Car Note :: The Outrageous Price Of School Uniforms

Procrastination At Its Finest

I am admittedly a last minute person for a lot of things. I don’t necessarily mean to be, it’s just the way my ADHD brain works. Understandably, this is not ideal…especially when you have kiddos relying on your time management skills (or in my case, lack there of). So, every summer, I am probably one of the last people to get everything together for the upcoming school year. I felt optimistic this year, because I purchased shoes at the end of May and school bags and lunch kits in early June. Then I realized I still needed to purchase uniforms. UGH! So on the last week of July, right before we went on our summer vacation, I took my kids to the uniform store.

Worse Than I Thought

We walked into the store, and there was a line. I wasn’t surprised there. And actually, the line moved pretty smoothly. It was finally our turn, and the attendant was very helpful. She was patient with our need to try on several size shirts and skirts, and helped us find the right fit in each. I decided I’d purchase 4 shirts, 2 skirts, and 1 pair of P.E. shorts for my daughter, and 1 belt and pair of paints for my son (most of his uniforms from last year still fit him and are in decent shape). I felt good about that and was optimistic that it wouldn’t be too expensive. Boy oh boy was I wrong. I was so wrong that I ended up putting back the pair of pants for my son and the P.E. shorts for my daughter. After all, aren’t little boys notorious for wearing shorts regardless of the wind chill? And technically my daughter’s grade isn’t required to dress down for P.E. yet this year, so I figure the one pair of shorts we already have will do.

Even after returning those items, it was still just under $300 and that’s only for one kid! How do families with three, four, five children do it?! I reluctantly handed over my credit card and thought, “Well this is great. I hope she doesn’t grow too much this year.” How terrible is that? The cost of uniforms made me actually hope that my daughter doesn’t grow (which is NOT AT ALL realistic, because she’s right at that age where puberty is likely on the very near horizon). Then I remembered the BEST thing ever. Our school has a swap shop.

The astronomical price of school uniforms

That Mom Is My Hero

I’m not sure whose idea it was originally. Maybe it was even several moms who had the idea, but the swap shop has been part of our school for as long as we’ve been there. It is truly the most amazing thing. It is a fully stocked “uniform shop” where you do exactly as the name states … you swap school uniforms. Basically, you turn in whatever uniform items you no longer need and / or fit in. You receive credit for those uniforms and can then turn around and use that credit to buy uniforms that other people have returned. If you don’t have enough credit, you simply pay cash or check. But at a VERY discounted price. For example, boy’s school shorts at $2 a pair, and most of them are in great shape.

Thankfully, our swap shop was open this weekend. Not only was I able to get a full set of uniforms for my daughter plus some, but I also got some extra uniforms for my son. And do you want to know the best part? I didn’t pay a dime! That’s right, I had so much credit saved up from school uniforms I returned last year and over the summer that I still have credit available on my account!

Thank The Good Lord!

Thankfully, I had kept all the tags on the uniforms we had already purchased. In fact, the bag has not even left my car, haha! So, I will return those uniforms and the almost $300 will be returned to my credit card. I don’t know about you but that is a super win in my opinion. I was almost giddy leaving the swap shop. I imagine I felt similarly to how those extreme couponing people feel when they pay nothing or close to nothing on groceries. it felt GREAT!

So, if your school does not have a swap shop, might I suggest that you suggest one at your next co-op meeting? I can almost guarantee that I am not the only parent who felt ill about the price of  school uniforms. Plus, I imagine it’s a lot less wasteful overall. Needless to say, I think it would be a success for any school, and would probably be very helpful for many families. Either way, I’m super grateful our school has this option.


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