When I was in high school, I worked at a local children’s clothing boutique. I loved selling the beautiful smocks, ruffles, bows, and soft knits, and knew that, when the time came, I would want to outfit my children in the sweet styles I had come to love.
So – when the time came, and our Ruthie was on her way, I could not wait to build her wardrobe. As the shopping began, it soon became clear that my frugalista roots were going to be in direct conflict with the price tags of these beautiful frocks. Add in a husband just beginning his residency, and clearly, my pocketbook was not playing nice.
And there it began… the deep dive into the world that is BST. I had dipped my toe prior. I mean, I sold our entire kitchen on Craigslist during a reno, and I bought/sold furniture on local facebook groups. But the world of children’s clothing? It is a totally different realm.
Now you may be wondering… What even IS the term BST?
When I was little, my mom would take our clothes to the local consignment store and shop for our next wardrobe. The concept is not new by any means. Rather, BST has amplified thanks to the power of the interwebs. With tools like Facebook and apps like Kidizen and ThreadUp, your audience isn’t limited to your local store and you can shop across the United States.
So as I learned about which brands I love (Baby Boden, Kissy Kissy, Hanna Andersson, Matilda Jane, Livie and Luca, anything smocked, the list goes on), I started joining these brand specific BST boards. I had tested the waters on the local boards (very quickly learning the culture of the “sold” and the “want,”) but these brand boards were a whole new level. With 30,000+ people in these groups and led by a pack of “admins” who enforced the rules from the “pinned post,” I was let loose into a culture that would soon consume me.
And so here’s when I knew I was in deep. A few weeks ago, my husband and I dropped our daughter off with his parents. He had worked a really long month of shifts, and we were glad to have a little bit of a break to unwind and reconnect. We headed to our favorite local bar for some pub grub and beers. As I was consuming my delicious craft beer, the Facebook notifications started pinging. My BST besties were tagging me in some of my HSA ISOs. Hiding the phone under the table, I swiftly clicked through to the post describing the particular dress in question. With a speed skim (thank goodness for my speed reading skills,) I posted “sold,” just barely beating out several other moms. As the night went on, this happened a few other times. Flash forward to the next week. The packages started piling up. Mail days were like a holiday. And that’s when I realized – I may have bought more than I intended during my date night. #addictstatus
Does any of this ring true to you? Reflecting on my time as a BST addict, I’ve compiled seven signs that you too could be a BST addict.
- You speak the BST language. You’re DISO (desperately in search of) a HSA (highly sought after) EUC (excellent used condition) unicorn (rare item that EVERYONE wants.) You’ve got PP ready (PayPal ready.) You’ve trained your daughter to take her daily IRL (in real life) for her OOTD (outfit of the day.) You know the rules of the boards. This board allows for questions as holds (length please?) and that board sells to first to post pp. This board is friendly, allowing chatter and conversation, and that board is cut throat and ONLY for shopping posts.
- Your house is stocked with shipping supplies. The first step in BST is the buying. That’s the access point. The gateway drug. You make sure your Paypal is set up, sit back, type sold, and a few days later your items come. But the real addicts are dealers as well as buyers. To sell, you’ll need polymailers, Ziploc bags, packing tape, a kitchen scale, and access to a printer. If you’re successful, you’ll end up with a giant IKEA bag worth of packages to drop at the post office.
- Speaking of the post office… your mail carrier may need some love. Once you’re on the big BST boards, you’re not doing the local porch pick up. It comes to you. It is glorious. But remember – someone has to walk all those packages to your door. So the true BST addicts leave goodies for their mail carrier. I’ve seen pictures of coolers of Gatorade bottles in the thick of summer, gift cards for restaurants around Christmas, and even kids hugging their mail carrier.
- BST is a competitive world. One of the biggest highs is winning an outfit you’ve eyed for some time for under retail value. Often, the biggest rushes and best finds come from purges. This is when someone has a pile of clothes they are selling at one time. They take a teaser photo for the main post, and then they list the individual details in the comments. The most skilled BST addicts have a strategy for these purges. They know whether the seller has indicated Solds in comments or reply (this is big). They have followed the purge by turning on notifications, not commenting, so as to not attract more attention to the purge. They know that the three dots at the bottom of the post on your mobile means the seller is commenting. They claim by saying “Me” or the number of the item, not sold or their PayPal, because it is quicker to type. They likely have the purge thread open on their computer and their phone, just in case the internet is faster on one device than the other. In purges, sales come down to seconds, and so internet speed matters
- You buy clothes with resale in mind. This means if you — heaven forbid — do buy new, you’re thinking about the resale value. So when you look at that tag, you’re not seeing the total number, you’re seeing the amount you’ll get on the boards, which is much more manageable. You also treat your clothes as if they are not your own – for they are only passing through. You don’t dare leave house without a bib, you convince your child that their favorite ice cream is vanilla (because, of course, chocolate stains,) and you shudder at the sight of pine bark on a playground (so rough on the knees!). You become a stain ninja with an arsenal of tools. I know a girl who has this crazy awesome OxiClean boiling water soak she does on Friday nights at her stove. She’s a legend. You avoid the dryer at all costs. Must. Not. Dry. That is the cardinal sin of BST addicts. Dryers are the devil. Drying racks will take over your house, with their arms extending full of pretty things.
- Your Facebook newsfeed is no longer full of babies, pictures of food, and crazy political rants from your estranged uncle. Thanks to Facebook’s algorithms, the more you shop, the more it shows on your newsfeed. BST addicts have newsfeeds full of clothes, perfectly curated to the size and gender you shop (because Facebook is creepy good). Your notifications are set to ping when specific groups post items, and you get tagged by your friends when they see something from your ISO post. Facebook’s utility completely shifts – it is no longer social, it is your marketplace. And there are groups with different purposes. I’m in 7 different Boden BST groups, and they all have their own atmosphere and purpose. Some groups are for chatting, some groups are strictly BST, and some groups are even for sneak pictures of new items from that given company. Then there are the Facebook profiles. The most dedicated of BST Addicts have a closet account – meaning that they have a separate Facebook account dedicated to their shopping habit, usually with the names of their kids as the profile name.
- And, finally, BST addicts know it’s more than clothes. The friendships formed over the long distances may start out through conversations about sizing and searches, but they quickly become much deeper. I’m in a facebook group that has shown me just this. We all talk daily over different threads and comments. We check in, we talk about big life events. We take care of each other. This community of friends is so very important to me and a wonderful byproduct of my shopping habit.