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Outfitting growing kids for winter sports

Winter is a wonderful time of year for families who enjoy sports such as skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing and tobogganing. It's also an expensive time of year for families with growing kids who change ski boot sizes from one year to the next and need new hockey equipment to fit their growing bodies.

Here are some tips on how to outfit growing kids for winter sports on a budget so they can enjoy being active and you can afford to support their activities.

Online marketplace
One option is to use the online marketplace through sites like Kijiji or eBay.

"Parents can usually find sporting equipment for a fraction of the retail cost, and because eBay is open to the world, you can often spot hard-to-find equipment," says Andrea Stairs, head of marketing for eBay Canada. "Plus, with children's preferences constantly changing, eBay is not only a great place to buy equipment, but also sell equipment that has fallen out of favour with your child or equipment that your child has outgrown."

For those who have never used eBay, the process is straightforward: You bid online for items, and the highest bidder wins. "After winning an auction, the buyer pays the seller directly, provides the mailing address, and then the seller mails the item using the shipping method specified by the buyer," Stairs says.

To search the site for winter sporting goods for your child, choose "sporting goods" in the drop-down item search list, click on "child/youth" in the age category and type a specific item, such as "junior ski boots," in the adjacent search bar.

Inventory is constantly in flux based on what people are posting, but with sellers from all over the world, you are bound to find something suitable. The savings vary from item to item, but "most items are listed below retail cost," Stairs says, cautioning that you should always consider shipping charges when deciding on your bid.

One-stop swapping
If you're looking to sell your old equipment and pick up new or used equipment, Play It Again Sports is a great option. Stores are widely dispersed across the country, and owners are well aware of the financial challenges of suiting up kids for winter sports.

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-- Posted: Dec. 31, 2008
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