Our New Playfort

Bargain hunter that I am, I love a good deal on something slightly used that would have cost me a kagillion more to buy new. Perhaps the fact that it is harder to find such a deal than to just go to my local store and purchase something new is half the fun for me. I’m all about the thrill of the hunt!! And i love good product quality, etc, etc…

In true fashion, when we began looking for a playset/fort/swing thing for the backyard, I scouted out our options, researched like the crazy nut that I am, and found that in Texas heat, wood sets deteriorate quickly, and age, and get rough and splintery, and basically require a good deal of work in order to keep them up. So, most sets require some routine maintenance: sanding, staining, sealing, repeat, repeat, repeat. Those of you with small kids know how much extra time we all have to spend prettying up the backyard swingset!!

Not wanting yet another possession at this stage of our lives that required much investment of time, I wondered if swingsets were available that did not need quite as high a level of upkeep. And, after some searching, I keyed into a company who touted a product with a nontoxic enamel finish that was guaranteed to be smooth and splinter-free. The sets were well-made and attractive, and the various options and configurations available seemed practically endless. This was a product we could purchase and then adapt accordingly to our kids’ growing abilities. The company was well-known, and also had 60 years of reputation behind them. It sounded wonderful, but there is always a catch. And after looking at the bottom line, I determined the product I wanted to buy was out of our price range. WAY out of our price range. Like it would cost more to purchase one of these things than a used car we bought a few years back. That is not hyperbole.

So, more recently I decided that perhaps the new set they sell at Sams would be a good fit for our budget: Sams sells great quality products at value prices, and this thing was really amazing, and had lots of great components. We felt no urgency about purchasing a set though, so we did not move quickly on buying one.

Then in early April, as I often do, I was perusing our local classified ads online when the name of the company I’d hoped to find a set from jumped out at me from the Swingset Ads section. I was shocked, considering the company resides in Massachusetts, and there is nowhere within 250 miles of where we currently live that retails them. I never expected to find someone selling a used ChildLife Set in the DFW area. But after calling and talking with the folks who had listed the set, and visiting and seeing the thing for ourselves there was no doubt: this was a Childlife Firechief’s playsystem, and the owners had purchased several wonderful upgrades which made it a neat fit both for our 3 year old on up to our seven year old, and older. Before agreeing to purchase the used set, I checked in with the company about being able to replace parts/upgrade the configuration, etc as we had need in the years to come, and found out that ChildLife has great customer service to back up their great products.

Well, long story short, we snatched that puppy up. It is almost 4 years old, but in really wonderful condition. The owners were obviously people who took good care of it. And, hey, they only had two kids who played on it. They were selling it to make more room in their smallish yard for some other things.

We hope to get many good years out of this wonderful set. The kids are absolutely thrilled with their new playground in the backyard, and we are thankful for being able to find such a fantastic deal on a great product. All told, we paid not quite 15% of what it would cost us to get one of these brand new. So even I, addicted bargain-hunter extraordinaire, feel we got a beautiful deal. And it was still a good bit less than we would have paid to get the Sam’s set!

Here are some pics of Jay setting up the playsystem, and then the kids trying it out.
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