I don't mind saying that the first time I tried to find a bounce house for sale, I screwed up.
I'll never forget how disappointed my kids were when we all realized that the inflatable I found on craigslist wasn't going to inflate. I felt just as deflated as that damn bouncer.
At the time, I just wanted to save money. These things are really expensive, and I thought that if I could get one for half the original cost, it would be worth a shot.
I just wish I knew what I really should have been looking out for. If I had known ahead of time how it would all turn out, I would have done everything differently.
This guide is my attempt to help you so you don't have to go through the disappointment we did. I'll tell you what to do, what not to do, and help you find the perfect bounce house for you and your family.
The First Decision: New or Used?
The first time you looked for a bouncy house for sale I'm sure you were shocked at the prices. I was too. Our house runs on a pretty tight budget. We knew that we definitely wanted a bounce house, but we wanted to be smart about it too.
My opinion on this has changed pretty drastically since back then. At the time I was only looking at the upfront cost. I was failing to see a few things, though.
First, most inflatables -- whether it's a bouncy castle, inflatable slide, bounce house or obstacle course -- are designed to last years under normal conditions. I think a lot of parents lose sight of this when they look at the price in the context of what it is -- a children's toy.
But remember, you'll have your bounce house for a while. We've had a few that have lasted us several years, we've outgrown them and have been able to sell them for a decent return.
So keep that in mind when you make your decision.
Now, back to my story.
When we bought our first bounce house, I found a unit on craigslist for cheap. Something like a third of the original price. The seller said it was a couple years old, the pictures looked good, and so we decided to go with it.
There was one catch. This unit didn't have a blower. The seller said the blower died, which is why they were selling it.
No problem. I found another seller with the opposite problem -- his inflatable got a hole in it, but the blower was still OK.
Long story short, it was a disaster. The bouncer itself was beat up. The seams were all loose and it looked like some bigger kids had been jumping on it.
The blower was worse. It made a horrible noise when we ran it. It was like something on the inside was partially broken. It was totally unbearable. In fact, we decided we had to get rid of this junk we had just bought, and find something nicer.
OK, so new is better. Should I buy online?
Generally I think you should buy online. These things are typically 30 to 40 pounds, if not more, and so it's just easier to have it dropped on your doorstep. And with most things being available with Amazon Prime, you can get it shipped quickly too.
What online store should I buy from?
Amazon, baby! I am biased, but I do think it's really easy to order from them. They generally have the widest selection and bring it right to your doorstep - what could be easier? You can also order from Walmart, Target or Toys 'r Us, but they'll have more limited selections and usually more expensive shipping.
What local stores have bounce houses for sale?
Check your local Walmart, Target, K-Mart or Toys r Us. You'll have a good chance of at least finding a Little Tikes model there. If there are other big box retailers or toy stores near you, they'll be worth checking as well.