By Shannon, Contributing Writer
All day long I day dream about simple money saving strategies that will help real moms find peace with their finances. At any time, if you were to check my trending blog posts, you’d see titles like “ways to save money on this,” “how to afford that.” I’m a money saving maven…
…or so I thought.
But I have a deep dark secret. I don’t thrift shop. And it’s really been bothering me that there’s something I routinely recommend to my readers that I don’t do myself. Does it really save money? Is it worth the time it takes to hunt through all those racks? Can you find a good value on what you actually need? I was dubious. But the simple truth is, I didn’t know the answers to these questions.
So, I grabbed my bestie and a latte and headed out to our local thrift stores to find out! (And because I know you’ll be wondering, here’s how I splurged on coffee without a bit of guilt.)
Myth #1 – Second hand clothes will be stained and worn out.
My kids are hard on clothes. At any point after they start eating solids, you can pretty much guarantee that there is going to be a stain left on any light colored clothing. (Seriously, why is there any such thing as white clothes above a 6 month size?) That’s why it was so hard for me to imagine that there would be any decent second-hand boys clothing left in the whole world, let alone my local thrift store.
We quickly noticed that it was easy to find dress clothes that were still in great shape. I guess that makes sense because your Sunday best only gets worn once a week. I picked up a $4 pair of black dress shoes for my son that looked like they’d only been worn twice. That’s easily a 60 to 70% discount compared to buying new.
Myth #2 – It will take too long to sort through all those clothes to find what I’m actually looking for.
It is true: you don’t get that organized, sorted-by-color-and-size, everything-matching effect in a thrift store because every single item is a one off. We naturally like things to be sorted, don’t we? Just ask any 2-year-old whose mashed potatoes are touching their broccoli. Yikes!
That’s why I was initially overwhelmed when I walked into each new thrift store. There was so much stuff seemingly piled everywhere. However, once I took a deep breath and focused, I was able to zip to the rack with my son’s size and look through the 1 or 2 dozen items available in minutes without skipping a beat in my conversation with my friend.
One drawback to thrift shopping I discovered is that I only found one or two items in each store that were good quality, the right size, a great price, and fit the style that I wanted. The reality of thrift shopping is, you do have to kiss some frogs before you find “the one”–the one perfect high quality item you’re looking for, that is.
I normally try to minimize my trips to the store to save on transportation and impulse buys (and my general disdain for shopping). With thrift shopping, visiting multiple stores is necessary. It went quickly though, especially with no kids in tow.
It really helped to go in knowing exactly what I was looking for while shopping. We try to keep a minimalist approach to clothes in our household (here’s why), so I knew my son would need about 5 pairs of pants, 7 shirts, 2 pairs of PJs, and 2 pairs of shoes for fall. With that in mind, I could easily zero in on finding great pieces that would save money.
Myth #3 – You just can’t beat big-box store prices.
The first store we checked out was a second hand shop that buys clothes from local families after they’re done with them. The advantage, in theory, would be that the store only accept the best items, so you have less to sort through. The disadvantage is that they have to charge more than a charity thrift shop that gets their donations for free.
Normally, when I buy clothes for my growing-like-a-weed boy, I swing by Target and pick up a bunch of generic Ts and shorts or pants for $5 a piece, frequently less if they happen to be on sale. The used clothes at the second hand store were all in the $3 to $5 range. Not enough of a discount to justify settling for second hand if you ask me.
Surprisingly, I actually found better brands and quality at our church thrift store and for much better prices, too. I snagged an adorable Tommy flannel shirt which I considered to be a great bargain at $2.49. When I got to the register, I found out it was 75% off of the marked price! That’s 63 cents for a barely worn name brand!
My little frugal heart leaped in my chest, and a thrift-shopper was born. If you haven’t tried thrift shopping for kids clothes, I would really encourage you to try it out this fall to save a bunch of money on your back-to-school shopping.
What is the best thrift store deal you’ve found? Tell us in the comments!
Be sure to check out yesterday’s post for great way to shop at online consignment stores!
Want healthy, back-to-school lunch ideas? Kitchen Stewardship’s The Healthy Lunchbox has 45 real food recipes, plus 8 colorful printables, you’ll be ready to pack amazing lunches for your family this fall! Pick up your copy HERE!
One trick I use to speed up thrift store shopping (for myself or the babies) is to find the section I need, then quickly scan for prints and fabrics that catch my eye. If something pops for me, then I touch it to see if it is soft/sturdy/whatever I’m looking for in that kind of piece, and only then will I pull it out and look at it, but I can skip examining anything that is faded, flimsy, or scratchy etc. Many thrift stores or church rummage sales in my area will also have “Dollar bag” day when they need to clear out inventory, such as end of season or at the end of the sale. Basically, you buy a bag for a dollar at the door (or two or three) and then you get to fill it up and walk out feeling like a winner because you scored knee high leather boots for a fraction of a dollar because you also have seven tops, a dress, and a wool coat stuffed in next to them (the local Methodist church doesn’t mess around – you get a trash bag for a dollar as opposed to a paper or plastic one haha).
Wow! Great tip! I’ll have to check out our local thrift stores for their $1 days.
Several of our thrift stores now have things sorted by size and some by size and color – the sorted by color only store is not my favorite. 🙂 However, I find that I get frustrated if I go looking for a specific thing and don’t find it. So I generally look for anything that I think will go in my wardrobe. Sometimes I find a piece that I like one day, and then on another shopping trip will find something that coordinates with that piece.
There is one store we go to sometimes that is not sorted at all, but everything in the store is one low price. We usually make it on $1.50 day. That trip must be done on a well-rested, nothing-else-planned day!
I agree! Our Goodwill is sorted by color only, and it’s sooo much harder to find what you’re looking for.
That would drive me crazy. We have a large goodwill (though I’d prefer shopping at a locally owned thrift shop) but while they are sorted by color they are also sorted by size. It’s not perfect, there’s usually only 4 sizes for so. S, M, L, XL but that gives you a general idea. I think the pants are sorted specifically by size.
Goodwill is great for organizing by color, size and great prices! Salvation army does not organize by color, but the best thing is 50% off Wednesday for even more savings! Thankfully my teenage girls love to shop thrift stores.too! We get so much more clothes for the money, and they are nice name brands too! 🙂
That is wonderful that your daughters are already learning thriftiness and financial responsibility!
Yes that’s a good thing and everybody should try this
Rene, all of the Salvation Army stores in my area actually do organize by color, whilst a few Goodwills do not. I suppose that it must vary by store. It does drive me crazy when everything is not well organized, so when I go into such places, I have to take a deep breath and concentrate. To be quite honest, thrift stores are where my family has done most of their shopping for years. You would be pleasantly surprised at what you could find at one. I have noticed that pricing will often be higher in some stores on the same chain, for example a Goodwill store near Washington D.C. had exorbitant prices. Since they put up so much of the quality items that they receive on EBay(at least the one closest to me does[others do still have good stuff]) , I can no longer find much there. We also frequent other thrift stores and rummage sales. Goodwill does color code all of their tags, so watch for the sales. Sometimes one color will be 50% ooff of and another will only cost $0.29, or they will have a 50% off everything sale. At SA, they also color code their tags and have daily sales not unlike Goodwill’s, but they do also have special sale days like senior citizens day, students day…and another where every color but one will be 50% off. At a local church thrift store they have a few days where everything is free as they need to clear out to put more out. One of the nicest things that I have discovered were several formals for under $10. and a pair of sandals made in Spain and another in Brazil. Most likely the nicest thing though was when my music teacher found a new electric wheelchair at a SA for $30. Keep your eyes open and you never know what you may find next at your local thrift store!
I like to go on sale days or back to school days. Our Salvation Army has been having summer sale for clothes for the whole family, which is great for older children because the back to school sales are only for younger kids. The summer sale is $2.49 for a bag. My trick is to role up the clothes tight. You would be amazed how much more you can get into the bag by rolling up the clothes. This is also the time to look for the next season or year. the thrift store has also been having a sale on the oldest color tag for 49 cents which they have stopped during the other sales. Another sale they have been having is socks for 19 cents or 10 for 99 cents. I have a large family but when you have two carts to go thru of socks I can usually find 10 socks minimal. The first time they did this I found 60 pairs, which included tights and hose. I am going to use the hose to put onions in from our garden. I have read it will help them last longer. My teenage girls love to shop too. Call the thrift stores find out when there sales are. Our thrift store is now posting on Facebook so I try and check there but I have found just talking with the manager sometimes helps find out sales ahead of time or at least if they are thinking of having one.
I’m loving all these tips! I am going to go see if my thrift stores are on facebook now. We have a whole box of onions from the garden too. Wonder why the hose make them last longer?
I think it was the air gets around them and they aren’t touching each other.
I’m a Thrift Store aholic! I’ve spent years shopping them! I have no plan, just the thought “I want to go shopping!” My size fluctuates a lot, so I’d rather spend time searching through a whole rack of pants that are less then say $5 at any thrift store, knowing that I’m going to get a deal. I usually look for name brand (Old Navy, Gap, etc), and then color, texture, etc. If I get lucky & say find like a great pair of Jeans (lets face it, those are hard to come by either thrifted or at full price most of the time), which after searching for over a year for something that fit, I found a pair of Old Navy Diva that fit like a glove (for $4 a savings of $30) – SCORE! I have small feet (5-6) so I don’t usually find much that fits the shoe dept. Diligence pays off when Thrift Store shopping and the savings are phenominal, especially when you find something that you end up wearing for several years. if you calculate the amount you spend, vs the time you spend searching., plus the length of time you keep and wear the piece of clothing, the saving can be … WOW! I have pieces that I’ve worn for more than 5 years and I still love them.
My best deals were not clothes. $80 bread maker for $5 (Goodwill), $25 changing pad and $18 cover for $6 total (consignment shop), and a PS3 for $3 (Goodwill – no cords were included so they couldn’t test it). As far as clothes, I like that I can pick up clothes for about the same price as a box store without actually going to a box store where I’m sure to find SOMETHING that I must have 🙂 Plus I like knowing that my large family is re-using items when possible.
I love your post today, Shannon! Like you, I never shopped at thrift stores … until I was pregnant and needed to buy a maternity wardrobe on a tight, tight budget. After my first shopping trip I was a convert, and I love buying clothes for me and my kids at a few of my favorite thrift stores.
My best deals have been a brand new, tags-still-on formal gown for a black tie wedding for just $8 (a $150 savings!) and this afternoon I found a like-new 3 Sisters jacket … they retail at $110, but I got mine for $10!
I love shopping at thrift stores. I have found several Gymboree children’s outfits, with tags, for $1 or $2, several Pampered Chef things (like new, that were on my wish list) for .50 to $2, and an American Girl Bitty Twin boy for $2. My best find ever though, was the dish set I had been wanting for three years…found a complete setting for twelve in really great shape for under $20 (it was over $200 new).
I can get carried away though with the “great finds”. My husband has to gently remind me that it’s still spending money and if we don’t need it, can’t use it, or make a profit on it, it’s not worth it.
Leesha @ Living Contently
I’ve avoided thrift store shopping in the past for many of the same myths you’ve just debunked (except when it comes to home décor – love remaking things). I’ll have to take the dive and do a bit of searching myself. Thanks for the inspiration!
I thrift a lot. A LOT. People can’t ever believe what I find. I shop every 5-10 days and never spend more than 20 dollars. Last year I found seven for all mankind jeans for me and my daughter for and two pairs of joes jeans for my daughter for 2.49 for all! Hundreds of dollars worth of jeans for under $10! I regularly find Janie and jack, h&m, baby gap, naartjie etc for around a dollar an item.
Last week I found a NEW WITH TAGS longchamp bag.
I try to encourage all my friends to thrift. Sometimes getting your hands dirty pays off 🙂
I go on a weekly basis. I know the brands that fit well and the sizes I need. Yesterday I snagged a teal green 3 piece outfit I will be wearing to my niece’s wedding. $8.60!! I looked on line for the brand and similar outfits run $75-100.
Today I hit Salvation Army and got a Coldwater Creek dress for $1.39 plus a pair of dark wash jeans during their $2.00 jean sale.
90% of my wardrobe is thrift store and at least 75% of my house furnishings are from thrift stores or yard sales.
I love thrift stores. My favorite is Savers located in AZ. My most “treasured finds” would have to be my Christmas and Fall decor http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/Holidays/Around-our-home–Christmas/detail.esi?oid=30876149
Nothing beats a trip to a thrift store.
Does anyone know of a list or have a list of some of the better name clothes to look for. I usually go by feel but would love to have a list for my girls to have.
My son got a bunch of childrens clothes free from a job he was working on and brought them home. I washed them up and shared them with several families but still had about 2 baskets of clothes that we couldn’t find homes for. My one daughter and I took them to a consignment store and they gave us a credit for what they had. My daughter found a pair of jeans, can’t remember the name of them but she has worn them constantly. While we were at an event a young mom we know came up to me and told me those jeans run about $180 dollars and her mom had just sold a pair for $80 on line that were in the same shape that her’s were in. They have a horse shoe shape on the pocket. The consignment must not have realized the value of them as they were selling them for about $5.00.
Those are probably lucky brand jeans. Those are great jeans and super expensive!! I don’t even own a pair! Ha.
I am a thrift store girl through and through. Recently I was looking for my homeschooled son some jeans for fall and since he is growing like a weed, I certainly didn’t want to spend a bunch of money. Stopped at my local Salvation Army, they happened to have kids clothes for 4 for $1.00. Got him 4 pairs of jeans for a buck, name brand Arizona & Children’s Place!! Plus got other things for my girl and some things for myself and spend 13.00
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
I don’t get to go thrift store shopping often because I live in a tiny town. However, I did get to go recently and I found a pair of red Converse tennis shoes that I have wanted since the 5th grade. It happened to be 1/2 off day so I got a $3 pair of shoes for $1.50. They didn’t have shoelaces, but I was given a pair of shoelaces for free that same week. I was thrilled! It can take effort to thrift shop, but if you can make a day of it and spend time with a friend at the same time, it is worth it!
Oh, yes, I love thrift shopping! Just yesterday I went to 2 thrift stores shopping for school clothes. I got 15 clothing items(shirts, dresses, pants) for around $40. There’s no way I could have gotten all that new, even shopping clearance racks! One of the stores I get $5 off coupons for, so that was an extra savings blessing.
I also got a Revere 3 qt. stainless steel saucepan with lid for $7. I’ve been looking for exactly that…score!!!
And recently I got an LLBean backpack for my son for $5 at a thrift store. It’s a little worn, but I gave it a good washing, and it looks great. And I bet it will last longer than the new ones that are only $5.
Thanks for the tips..
“I shop with an open mind ” only way to go.
I found some great kitchen items, 1960’s cake saver.. excellent condition.
1946 cracker keeper.. LOVE it .excellent condition. I see crappy ones , all rusted out , at the antique stores for 50% more then I paid..
of course I only have Real paintings in my home (:_) so ….. I have found some masterpieces of yet undiscovered artists 🙂
on clothes…. well if the jeans are long enough.& in good condition , their mine .
most stores I go into have NEW racks of clothes.. so I always ck that .
books are a good deal .. & when I’m done.. I take it back.. 🙂
I rarely buy , ‘pretty knick knacks ‘.. but I do ck the Tea cups, if they are English or German…… most the time ,their mine..
Love it! Way to branch out and try something new!
I deal in antiques for a living, so I am a regular at my neighborhood thrift stores. The best tip I can tell you is not for everyone, especially those with small kids or strict work hours. Go often, buy little! Make a point to breeze through at least once a week (some weeks I stop by almost daily). You’ll get to know your favorite racks and shelves, the employees will recognize your friendly face , and best of all: you will have the best chance at items JUST BROUGHT OUT. When I find a .99 item that I can resell for $100+, it’s always something an employee just set down on the shelf. Admittedly I tend to focus less on clothing (though everything I wear comes from there on .99 Wednesdays!), but I am so spoiled by the pricing and availability that I only go to the mall once a year.
And always be friendly! I know the employees names and kids and pets, and they’ll often volunteer that they have in back, say, the matching teapot for the set of 1800’s china in my basket. Happy picking! 🙂
Many thrift stores have sales on Fridays so they can add new things on Monday. After some time, you figure out when stores do their sales and try to make it there on those times. My big thrift store deal was my wedding dress at goodwill. It was my dream dress and with a some size alterations and a red sash it was perfect. I bought it for $80. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried your hand at garage sale-ing but for me that is where the real deals happen. I usually only go to the town wide or community sales so I can make the most of my time. I bought all the clothes needed for my newborn son from newborn-9mth as well as a lot of clothes for my daughter for $30 all from one sale. You can always barter people down on prices. So I rarely pay more that 50 cents for a kids clothes item and never more than $2 for a pair of shoes.
I have been a teacher for over 35 years. I have bought thousands of books for my classroom over the years from thrift stores. I routinely get practically new books for 50 cents or less. When they’re that cheap, if a student falls in love with a book, I let them keep it. (I teach in low socio-economic schools.) I’ve also bought great board games and puzzles for rainy day recesses.
I also have bought beautiful clothes for my own 5 kids (as well as for extra-needy students) at thrift stores. I can’t believe what great deals I’ve found over the years. Now I shop for my grandchildren at thrift stores!
I also, over time, found my daughter a complete set of RevereWare pots and pans for when she got her first apartment.
I absolutely love thrift store shopping! It feels like a treasure hunt. I agree with someones else’s comment that you need to go often and just buy the great stuff. Some days I buy almost nothing, other days I find a bunch of great deals. That’s part of the fun.
Some things we frequently but for cheap at thrift stores:
Jackets and sweaters for ourselves and the kids (huge savings! we’ve gotten nice leather jackets, puffy winter jackets, etc for less than 10! In great condition!)
Storage bins and containers
Pots and pans
Furniture as long as it’s a solid wood piece we’re looking for
I thrift shop on a regular basis, and I have been for a while. It started when I had 2 kids and was living on a very tight budget (part-time minimum wage job and my daughter’s disability), and now I have 4 kids, 2 of which have disabilities. My husband works hard for little money and I am at home doing therapy for my 2 year old and nursing a 7 month old. I will be the first to admit that we probably live below the “poverty line” for a family our size. But you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell just by looking at us walking down the street. Thrift shopping has allowed me to find many items that just would not be in our budget otherwise. I regularly find gently worn clothing for my older two. My son is very hard on clothing and growing like a weed, and I could not afford to clothe him full price at even a big box store. My 2 year old, who has a disability, is not walking yet and, instead, scoots around on her bottom while at home. She wears the seat out of pants CONSTANTLY. Every day I throw away a pair. For her, it is even prudent to buy several pair of extremely cheap, stained pairs of pants from a thrift store for her to wear out on a daily basis than ruining brand new pants or letting her go naked. I have found a very nice video baby monitor for $10 to keep up with my girls when one is napping. I would have been naked while pregnant with #4 if it had not been for thrift stores and consignment shops! I also shop mostly clearance items at regular stores. The only things I will not buy second hand, are shoes (unless OBVIOUSLY rarely worn), underwear, electronics/appliances (unless OBVIOUSLY in working order and not obsolete), carseats, and bottle nipples/pacifiers (these things break down and need to be replaced too frequently, and cannot be sufficiently sterilized for my taste). There are TONS of places to save some money, and not all are the same. My main go-to places are:
*THRIFT STORES – items are mainly donated or bought cheaply from yard sales, individuals, and business close-outs. Items range from brand new with tags to stained and obviously well-worn. It all depends on the proprietor and the sources of their inventory. I suggest you get to know the owner/operator/manager or whoever is there handling the merchandise each and every day.
* CONSIGNMENT STORES – items are brought in by individuals to be resold. The original owner gets either a percentage of the resale price or an upfront payment for the entire lot. These stores are usually a little more pricey, but their inventory is strictly regulated by the proprietor. They have certain standards for the cleanliness and wear for all items and you are pretty much guaranteed quality goods. They are usually much more organized and many are set up in a “boutique” manner. Plus, you can usually bring in your own gently used items and either get money or store credit. So you get to clean out unused items from your home and replace them with ones that fit your family.
* GOODWILL – I put this one down separately from “thrift stores” because, even though the premise is the same, the fact that it is a nationally owned and operated company offers some benefits. The items do offer the same range of quality, brand new to obviously worn. The prices do tend to be around the same as most thrift stores, definitely cheaper than most consignment stores, but may be even cheaper than some thrift stores due to a much larger inventory. They tend to be better organized than most thrift stores, though you still have to hunt for your treasure. Each day offers a discount on different items, with discounts for seniors on a certain day, and one for students with an id every day. In my area, the first Saturday of the month is 50% everything in the store.
*CLEARANCE – This one is important. You can shop clearance at any store, while you are already shopping there. You can stop up on next years basics at a steep discount because they are out of season. You can pick up gifts for holidays and birthdays through out the year instead of having to scramble just before.
Thrift shopping is worth it! You can catch good prices on many things that you wouldn’t have considered at full price. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. Buying things you don’t need just because it is cheap. But what I mean is that you can afford things that you normally would put off buying because they are over-priced or you cannot justify the purchase to yourself. Things like workout dvd’s or equipment, a kitchen gadget that would make your life easier but you wouldn’t pay full price for the convenience. Cute home decor that would fit just right in that bare spot on the wall and warm up your home. Good books and board games. Just about anything! It has allowed me to make my home cozy and clothe my family in a way that does not look cheap or contrived, but keeps money in my pocket to make sure my bills are paid. I have decorated, furnished, and equipped my home second hand, as well as clothed myself and my family, for 13 years now. I don’t see myself stopping any time soon!
I agree with your breakdown of the type of stores. The day we were to bring our twins home from the hospital they failed their carpet tests because they were preemies. My husband went on a wild goose chase in rural CT to find new seats. He could only buy 2 types. Hard to find types too! He found 2bbrand new ones in a consignment shop that day! Had he not found them than the babies couldn’t have come home. This was in the year 2000. There wasn’t an “online option”. We were blessed to have found not only one but 2! You just never know what you will find when out shopping this way. I have said many times that I do not intend to ever pay full price for anything ever again. I shop on my local Facebook tagsale sites for furniture, accessories, kitchen and household items. There is so much that we can keep out of the landfills if we just shop with a plan! Sometimes we need to practice some patience but we will eventually find what we can use. There’s not a lot of impulse buying when shopping this way. I definitely shop more purposefully.
***CARSEAT TEST! NOT CARPET TEST! LOL!
I had never been a “thrifter”, but last year I wanted to get my son some clothes for camping, so I hit up my local Goodwill. I was shocked, super organized and found some great clothes, not just for camping. After I finished in the kids department I decided to take a quick look in woman’s and I found a like new Burberry shirt. I was smiling ear to ear. $2 and I have a shirt sold new for hundreds. I still don’t go super regularly, but every few months I go, just to see what I can find.
I’ve been a thrifter all my life (and yard sales). My best deal I found was my wedding dress.i had planned on making my own, but my MIL and I went thrift shopping for fun one weekend and the store had an entire wall of wedding dresses. She pulled one off and said, “this looks like your size, try it on, just for fun!” It fit me perfectly, was the exact style I was wanting and was only $100.
My kids and I love thrift stores!! Not only does donating/shopping at thrift stores keep tons of stuff out of the landfills, but I can get what we need for a fraction of the cost. A few of the best items I’ve gotten were a Coach purse (authentic) for $10 and a Dooney & Burke laptop bag for .25!! I’ve gotten many name brand clothing items for .25-$1 too. Our favorite shop is DAV Red Racks. Every Sunday certain tags are only .25!
my best bargains came in a year where we had so much health problems especialy our 10 year old with a broken vertebra from someone prank ing and pulling out a chair when he sat down,one day I told God I need to know and feel and see you are in this with us.From that day on anything I buy from carrot juicers ,Corelle dinner sets, roasters,sewing mashines etc are on sale when I wAlk into the store to buy it ,not knowing of sales,just that I need them right then.so after a few weeks and months of this I walk into the MCC. Thrift store and low and behold I find a bed end that was missing when we bought a second hand dresser set of very good quality, very cheap, for my girls after moving into new home not having money to refurnished.the bedroom sweet we bought on line,just saw it coincidentally,not shopping on line usually,so I felt well provided for.
Another time i felt this urge to stop at the same store and found an almost new,no scratch ,sewing kenmore mashine older version,which are tougher,to fix boys jeans. I felt my new janome was too sensitive for that.paid only $ 25.
I shopped a lot second hand pants with our middle son,I remember once I bought 8 pairs of good quality pants for him,Beeing able to choose from 11/2 doz that day.
Of course now that the kids are older I don’t find as much time to shop second hand and the growing like weeds is over with.
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
I LOVE going to Goodwill. I find almost all of my children’s and my clothes there. Most of the clothes I find are brands that would be way out of my price range if I bought them new. Moreover, there are often more clothes that I would like to buy but don’t really need– as in, I get to be selective, not just buying it because it’s cheap and in my size.
The one point that I would offer a differing opinion, though, is that you have to go to multiple stores to find deals. My experience (in three different cities) is to find one store where you have had success (your preferred brand clothes, lots of dishes or furniture or toys or whatever to choose from) and frequent there the most. This way, you know the layout and the likelihood of it having the type of items you are in search of. Then, if there is something that you really want and need soon, visit a few stores to try and catch a deal.
My husband and I are HUGE fans of thrift store shopping. We could probably turn it into a date lol! The thing we love searching GoodWill for is board games. We are nerds to the core and we love board games. We have found some really awesome games for .99$. I also love looking for books. There are always books you just dont find at the store and I found a whole childrens encyclopedia that my husband and I bought 1/2 off for like $3. We homeschool and that is a set I am SO glad we found!
Thanks for the tips on all you find!
As a kid, my mom found great deals on party dresses so my sister and I could play dress-up. They were a few sizes too big, but we loved them and pretended to be princesses.
I like to thrift shop when I need jeans and, and I try to stick with the clearance section or half-price holiday sales. I have to carefully check the there aren’t holes in the jeans, but they fit so much better than brand new. They’re already shrunk as much as they’re going to, so that’s not a worry. I bought 5 pairs for around $23 total last season.
I’m known to my friends and family as a thrift shopping diva. I know every thrift shop in an area within a few weeks of moving there. We LOVE the buys 1) the money that you spend usually goes mostly to charity so you are supporting people who need it. 2) You NEVER know what you are going to find so it’s always fun to look, even with no money. 3) they always have interesting people in them and sometimes if you strike up a conversation you get interesting stories too. I’ve had plenty of conversations in thrift stores with random strangers.
My personal tips for shopping 1) the best ones are usually on bus lines this makes it so that the stuff gets moved more often and the surrounding areas usually donate to them because they see them along the bus line. this is also convenient because it could mean you don’t have to find parking. 2) the best ones don’t throw a lot of things away. They either donate to other thrift stores or find other places to donate to like local schools or women shelters. yes, its nice when a place looks “clean”, but I have found much better deals at the ones piled high with stuff, more selection and you can get those things that people have donated and then a few years later they are worth a fortune because they are back in style. 3) never go alone. It’s not that thrift stores are dangerous necessarily, but then you have someone to tell you that things don’t always look good on you, help you out of a pile of fallen clothes or bags and can keep you from being trampled by kids. Plus they aren’t always in the best neighborhoods, so just be safe. 4) Pay with cash. You can often get a discount and there is less chance you come home with the grand piano that doesn’t fit in your house, but was 20 bucks. Not all thrift stores will haggle with you, most of the big ones don’t, but the small ones will and you get even better deals. 5) don’t offer to buy stuff for people. this seems like it would just be a nice gesture, but I have run into a few problems related to this and unless you know them or at least have known them for more than 5 min than don’t offer to buy them anything from a thrift store. there are lots of great Christmas charities that you can even donate lightly used items and sometimes that can even be found at a thrift store. 6) Don’t buy things that can’t be easily washed. This means teddy bears especially. Always assume that people donated it dirty and that you will have to wash it. this is fine for things like clothes that can be easily washed, you can get great dishes at thrift stores sometimes, but if it can’t be easily washed then just get it from another store, too many pee filled teddy bears in my trash can to really count. 7) If there are a lot of people standing outside and it smells like smoke inside, just run. There is no reason to put yourself in a situation like that. 8) don’t be afraid to ask people for directions to your neighborhood if you got lost on the way here. I live in a nice neighborhood and most of the good thrift stores are on the other side of town, but they are usually really happy to see me because it means more money going to a community that needs it vs going to a cooperation. 9) It is OK to look up the price of something on your phone while still in the store. Sometimes you find a rare gem like a glass set that is listed for 20 bucks and it is actually worth 500, but other times you find out that they want 20 bucks for a coat that is only worth 10. They don’t usually know what they actually have and just want a little money for it so it can go to charity. 10) it is not OK to take tags off things, even if you are trying them on. It is not OK to loudly say how ugly anything is, no matter how trashy you think it actually looks. It is Not OK to sleep anywhere in the store. It is OK to not buy anything, but if you go to browse, do it early in the day not 5 min before closing.
hope that helps.
You are a pro, Crystal! Thanks so much for sharing these awesome tips!!
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If you have a Once Upon a child nearby, be sure to check them out too. Consignment, but good prices! I refuse to buy StuffMart brand clothes there bc the better brand are same price. They have a punch card too. I save it to do growinglikeweeds clothing catch up for all the kids about once a year.
Also, they colorize AND sort by size and gender!
We have a charity thrift store that is about 39 mins or so away from us, and with a family of 5 that includes 3 rapidly growing boys I consider this well worth the drive. My girlfriend and I pick one Saturday a month where we leave all 6 of our kiddos with their daddies and we grab a coffee and hit the road. We make our 30 plus drive and literally load up on what’s needed. Each and everyday of the week they sell jeans for .99…. seriously, name brand, high quality jeans for .99….. who wouldn’t make this trip 🙂 I am a firm believer in thrift shopping and love to check out new places and teach others how to truly score the best deal possible!
Wow, great tips! I always thought thrift shopping is for the upcycling handy person, but I can see how it can be handy to just buy for your kids. They grow out of them anyway, so you don’t have to get super good quality clothes. Never thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing!
I LOVE thrift shopping!!! I learned early on in our marriage that I can get brand name “business casual” clothes for my husband for work at a fraction of what it would cost at a depth store. Thrift shops are full of men’s clothes that have been left at the dry cleaners! (During college I worked at a couple of cleaners and part of my job was to make reminder calls about their clothes before they were donated. If they aren’t picked up they get donated. I always felt badly but now I see the joy from the other side.) When looking for men and women’s clothes look for a tag from the dry cleaner. They are small thin colored pieces of paper with a number on it that are usually stapled to the garment and look like they went through the cleaning. A matching number and tag color means it came from the same order. My husband loves the shirts I pick up and he loves the price even more! About $5 for a designer dress shirt. It’s a win-win! Maybe it’s a loss for the guy who forgot to pick up his cleaning…..? Thrift shops in higher priced neighborhoods will sometimes yield more name brands too.