If you’re thinking about buying your first bounce house, then let me first say congratulations! The luxury and convenience of having instant entertainment at your fingertips 24/7 pays for itself almost immediately.
When it comes to buying your first bouncer, budget is often the top concern that parents have - and it should be. Most families that buy an inflatable end up buying more than one, so odds are you’ll have other opportunities to buy a high-end model down the road.
Now, even if you’re being budget-conscious, there’s no reason that you can’t end up with a nice, high-quality bouncer. It’s all about knowing where to look. It’s also important to keep your needs in mind, and to make a purchase only if you feel completely comfortable with the terms.
With your needs in mind, finding and buying a cheap bounce involves a few key decisions that will shape the search and buying processes. They are:
Buy new or buy used? Each comes with its benefits and disadvantages
Wet or dry? Do you live in a warm climate? Then you might consider a unit with a water feature
What is my actual budget? Realistically the prices will only go so low, and so it’s best to come to the table with realistic numbers in mind.
No matter how you answer those key questions, the important thing is to keep realistic expectations as you go. If you do that, you’ll be happy with the outcome.
Buying New: The Ups and Downs
Buying new comes with several key advantages. You’ll get peace of mind knowing that your unit was never misused or abused, you’ll have a much wider selection to choose from and you’ll get the assurance of a manufacturer’s warranty.
While today’s bounce houses are generally well-built, it can be easy to overload them or use them in the wrong way. Each bounce house has weight ratings and guidelines for the number of kids that can jump at once. Most people don’t read or follow the specifications for their bouncer, and it’s easy to damage the blower or the unit itself if too many kids jump at once. By buying a brand new bouncer, you won’t have to worry about where your unit has been.
In addition to peace of mind, buying new gives you the chance to get exactly what you want. Inflatables come in many shapes and sizes these days, with features to suit any family’s needs. With a range of pricing options available as well, this can make the decision to buy new a no-brainer. Let’s say you want a bouncer with a basketball hoop and a slide. If you’re buying new, you have a wide variety of choices. If you’re buying used, you won’t be so lucky. In fact, you’ll be lucky to find the exact features you want.
On top of everything else, the assurance of a manufacturer’s warranty can be a big factor for families looking to maximize the value they get from a bounce house. You can basically think of it as built-in insurance that protects your investment from the worst. Most manufacturers these days are very responsive and supportive when it comes to warranty claims, and this is a huge plus when buying new.
In terms of downside, the big one here is obviously price. You’ll pay a premium in order to buy a brand new bounce house. As I said in the beginning, it’ll be up to you to decide what’s important as you look to buy a bounce house. If you think a new unit is right for you, you won’t regret it.
Buying Used: The Bad and the Good
When it comes to buying used, there are a few drawbacks and one primary advantage. There is uncertainty in terms of what you’re actually getting, you have far fewer units to choose from and you have to manage transportation for what is potentially a very large item. In terms of what you’re gaining from buying a used bounce house, the main advantage is cost savings. Sometimes that alone can be enough to nudge a family toward a used bouncer.
Everybody has a different comfort level with used goods. For many people, they’re seen as an effective way to save money and reduce waste. For others, they can be viewed as potentially unsafe or defective. This is something you have to decide as you make your decision when looking for a cheap bounce house.
Beyond the uncertainty of buying used, locating a used bouncer can be a challenge in itself. You’ll usually end up looking on sites like eBay and Craigslist and, let’s be honest, the number of options available is abysmal. Many families that start out looking for a cheap used bouncer end up buying a brand new unit for only slightly more money simply because they couldn’t find a used unit that met their needs. Your mileage may vary.
In terms of the money you’ll save, this can depend on a wide variety of factors. For a quality used unit, don’t expect to pay less than half of what a new unit costs. One benefit of buying a bounce house is that they tend to hold their value pretty well, but this can present a challenge when you are the buyer.
The Final Verdict: New is the Way to Go!
When it comes down to it, the benefits of buying a brand new bounce house outweigh the benefits of buying used by a pretty large margin. For peace of mind, long-lasting performance and the luxury of choosing exactly what you want, you can’t beat a brand new unit.
In terms of price, there is a wide selection of low-cost bounce houses available on Amazon and other online retailers. And with services like Amazon Prime, you can order a bouncer today and have it on your doorstep in two days with no shipping cost.
Compare that to borrowing your buddy’s truck and having wasting an afternoon wrestling around with one of these deceptively heavy beasts, and the price difference almost becomes a non-issue.
Special Note: Buying Used on Amazon
Despite my general negative tone toward buying used bouncers, there is a great option that gives you the cost savings of a used purchase with the convenience and selection that come with buying new. Simply search for a bouncer on Amazon, and for many of the results you’ll have an option to either buy it new or used. If you buy used you won’t necessarily get the protection of the full manufacturer’s warranty, but with a 30-day return policy and Amazon standing behind their products, you can be assured there won’t be any big surprises.