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Hunting for back-to-school deals

  • Jennifer Hundley of the Just Between Friends consignment sale sorts clothing during a pre-sale of the event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

When it comes to raising kids, nothing rivals the expense of the holidays like the beginning of the school year.

As summer comes to a close, you'll find your barefooted child in need of new shoes, a new backpack, new shirts and pants, and new sweatshirts that may or may not get lost on the playground in the first week.

And let's not forget the expense of paper and pencils, fancy calculators, and all the other necessities to get your kid through the school year.

Whether your child has just begun kindergarten or is ending his final year of high school, here are a few different ways you can save on back-to-school clothing and supplies for the year.

Host a clothing swap. At the rate most kids are growing, they're bound to outgrow their clothes before they have a chance to put some wear and tear into them. Invite all your parent friends to your home, and share the outgrown wardrobe.

You'll not only free up space in your child's dresser drawers, you'll come home with free, new-to-your-child clothing.

And any clothing that isn't snatched up can be donated to your local thrift shop or shelter.

Go thrifting for new clothes. Second-hand clothing stores sometimes get a bad rap. But no one will be the wiser if your child comes to school wearing a pair of barely-used shoes or like-new clothing.

It takes a little bit of treasure hunting and a lot of patience, but it's possible to bring home some pretty decent finds for just mere dollars after an afternoon of thrifting.

Consign on a dime. The nice thing about consignment shops is that the stores generally only accept items of reasonably high quality. It's also become a socially acceptable way to pick up some stylish threads.

Teenagers flock to places like Plato's Closet — a national franchise consignment chain with a store in Santa Rosa — which only carries name-brand fashions in almost-new condition.

Because the sale items are secondhand, the prices are kept low. This is especially true of designer jeans, which might carry a $100 price tag brand new, but can cost less than $20 on consignment.

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