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Lessons Learned From My First Thrift Store Shopping Experience

Guest post by Carrie Hurst at My Favorite Finds

I went to Goodwill for the first time in my life today. Here are a few things I learned:

If you’re going to pay for it — even if it’s secondhand — make sure you love it.

If I buy five pairs of jeans for $3 each without trying them on and go home and find that only two of them fit, I’m out $9. I don’t justify secondhand purchases with “It’s only $3.” By doing so, I waste money and I’m disappointed.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from a “great” bargain.

This afternoon, I tried on a pair of COACH canvas slip-on shoes. I loved them! They were only $22, and I wanted them badly.

However, they were a bit too tight in the toes. I ended up not getting them because of this and the high pricetag. Even though I loved them, I left them behind because I wasn’t willing to pay for something that I wasn’t 100% convinced about.

Look for brands you are familiar with.

If I’m going to buy something secondhand, I want it to be decent quality and have a history of lasting. Today, I got a Land’s End swim top/trunks for my boys, two pairs of Banana Republic shorts for me, a pair of Saucony sneakers, a pair of American Eagle flats, a Baby GAP tank top for my daughter, an Old Navy polo for my boys, a pair of plaid Cherokee shorts for my boys, a Circo swimsuit for my daughter, and a Rare, too dress for my daughter. I got all of this for less than $30!

I chose these based on what we needed andwanted, but also based upon brands that I know we’ve liked and felt have held up to wear and tear in the past.

What are your best tips and tricks for shopping at thrift stores?

Carrie is a pastor’s wife, and a mom of twin boys and a toddler girl. She loves the Lord, and tries to be an example for Him. Visit her blog, My Favorite Finds.

photo credit


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130 Comments

  • Michele says:

    Don’t forget that Goodwill takes things back with the receipt!

    • Andrea Q says:

      Not all of them.

    • Erin says:

      Our’s does not, unfortunately. You buy it – you keep it!

    • Amy says:

      Ours has a no return policy, also. However, I once bought a bed skirt that was marked king size, and when I got it home, it was clearly not king size. They weren’t happy about it, but they did at least give me store credit when I brought it back.

    • Heather P says:

      Most of the ones here only give back store credit, and only in the first 14 days.

      I <3 Goodwill. I bought 3 pairs of Lane Bryant jeans (nearly new, and one pair still with tags) for less than $20 total (less than sale price of one pair). I was ecstatic. 🙂

  • Great tips!! I would also add one I’ve adopted recently, after some decluttering:

    “Do I love this thing enough to clean/dust/maintain it as often as necessary?”

    If it’s going to be a pain to clean or maintain, no matter how much of a bargain it is, it’s just not worth it. I’ll end up hating it, and I’m trying to surround myself with only things I love, not things that are a chore to own.

    • Janet says:

      I think all of these tips are so great ! In 40 years of decorating homes I have learned to look at a room and count how many decor items that will be needed. I love brass it is elegant and it does not break in moves.
      Wood carvings that are not the norm. Iron worked well make for some great decor as well. Frames that are extremely high quality. I have a thrift store list items my family needs and items I am willing to buy to give as gifts.
      I don’t look at other deals I see other items as stealing money from me.
      The clothing thing is easy if you look for classics of the name brands.
      My older daughter even taught me a few things when she was only 12 she wanted to be taken to the ritzy part of town so she could shop the better garage sales and thrift stores. Many times they would not have jeans for her but that would not stop her from looking for shorts, and yoga pants. Skirts, dresses and tops! She got very good at knowing that one classic white blouse would always be a need., No matter what size she was, a fancy dress and a nice cover up or sweater to go with it. Her eagle eyes and her mental list made for some great shopping dates with my daughter as she grew up.
      I gave only $300 dollars all year for clothing for everything even all the way thru high school. She would save $100 for her Prom/ Homecoming dress this left her only $200 for entire year for clothing and the girl had a major closet full that was envied by the entire school one year she did add $50 of her own money. Boy could she shop still does !

  • Lori says:

    Good lessons- but remember that some thrift stores are better than others! I often visit a few just to see what’s there. Sometimes walk away empty handed, sometimes walk away with good bargains! Today, for example, I picked up a beautiful wooden school desk that is perfect for American Girl Dolls that my daughter loves. Online I’d pay $50-90 for one…. today I paid $4.50! A quick wipe with a furniture cleaner and it is good as new 🙂

    • peever says:

      I agree. I’m not a fan of Goodwill. Our’s has all youth clothing sizes 0-18, both boys and girls, all mixed together in one huge section. I’d much rather go to a thrift store that has everything separated by boys/girls and sizes so I can go through the racks quickly and I’m not wasting a ton of time.

      • Debbie says:

        Our Goodwill arranges their clothing by color. Seriously…all yellow shirts on one rack, all blue on another, lol. It is slightly annoying, but oh so pretty to look at. We have a DAV store close that arranges their clothes by size. Much better to shop at and they have a fitting room!

        • I have a thrift store (not Goodwill) near me that arranges by size AND color. They even arrange by short sleeves and long sleeves, and short skirts and long skirts! (the skirts are arranged by length and size, but not by color).

          It’s incredibly helpful; if I’m looking for a short-sleeved red shirt, I can go to the rack of short-sleeved red shirts, and then go to my size.

          There is a great blog on thrift store shopping with lots of tips (for example, the author notes that some of the best finds are in January, after everyone makes their end-of-the-year donation for tax write-offs). It’s http://thethriftychicks.blogspot.com/ Right now she has a post up on thrift store shopping with teens (with pictures of what she bought).

        • Sandra Lee says:

          My Goodwill organizes by color as well, and I love it! It saves me time because it allows me to skip all the yellows, oranges and cream colored clothes…the colors that do not look good on me.

          I was just at my Goodwill on Wednesday and I found a beautiful summer shirt and a sweater, both brand new with tags still on them, both $2.99! Great finds.

  • Lynda says:

    Good job Carrie! One other thing I have learned from shopping Goodwill and garage sales, etc. is to run the items past our girls too – starting around age 4 they had definite opinions about what they liked and didn’t like. Even if I thought the GAP sweater was adorable, if I got a shrug in response from the child it was intended for, I passed on it. If it’s just going to sit in her drawer because she doesn’t like it, it’s not worth it.

    Happy bargain shopping!

  • Mindy says:

    I’ve had the best luck in finding the always overpriced maturity clothing at thrift stores. Most of the time the clothing is still in great condition due to the minimal time it is used and most always familiar name brands. Make a stop at your local thrift store and check it out, you’ll be suprised!

    • Jackie says:

      I agree Mindy! Almost all of my maternity clothes is from thrift stores. I have also gotten hand me downs from friends and family always helps as well.

  • Lizzie says:

    And there are new things everyday. Lots of thrifstores have sales and specials–get to know your local shops!

    My sister and I share how to thrift for profit on our blog and what we look for to sell–may want to hop over and check us out;)

  • Donna says:

    I use our local thrift store to rotate stuff that I’m bored with. I buy something new (to me) and then donate something back. I have a rule that, for each piece I buy, I have to get rid of at least one like piece. I refuse to buy any more hangers than what I have because I don’t need more clothes than what I have. That also keeps me from overspending on stuff that I don’t truly love because I might have to get rid of something I do love to be allowed to keep it.

    • Janice says:

      Great idea! I do that also ~ I have limited the number of hangers in my closet. If I buy something new, I need to get rid of something so it has a hanger!

  • Cassy says:

    I love thrift stores! You may want to check the stores around your area for specials. I know that the Salvation Army near my house has 50% off of clothing every Wednesday. I also learned to make sure that I always have hand sanitizer with me because a lot of the clothes leave your hands feeling yucky from pawing through them. Finally, make sure you have time to really look. You never know what item you might come across if you really look. I have almost missed great finds because I was just looking at clothing and nothing else.

  • Rachael says:

    I loooooooove thrift store shopping. I promise you it’ll get easier!!!! I have a rules for shopping. If I don’t love it in the store, I don’t buy it. As a rule of thumb I spend 10% or less of what it was originally valued at. I have specific stores I shop at, and I don’t deviate from them. I also prefer the weekends because there are more 50% a certain color. I also make sure my tummy is full, because I’ll spend a long time shopping (I loathe shopping too).
    Generally I don’t buy children’s clothes because they are priced higher than what I can get them for on sale or clearance. UNLESS it is a good name brand (Hanna Andersson, for example).
    I LOVE shopping for furniture (wood in particular) at thrift stores – I have found GREAT deals on them!!! Or wood frames for pictures! I could go on and on!!!
    Happy Thrifting!!!

  • Annette says:

    $22 for used shoes? Even if Coach, wow!

  • Cat getz says:

    I don’t generally thrift shop because I can use coupons in conjunction with clearance to get new items at the same or cheaper price than at second hand stores. I shop mainly at Gap, ON, and Gymboree and never pay more than $5 for a piece of clothing. I’m in Topeka and I can easily beat the consignment store prices.

    • Natalie says:

      Agree. I have switched to shopping online, off-season/clearance rack, with coupons. I can get my kid’s clothes for HALF the price of the local thrift stores. Depends on where you live!

      • Lizzie says:

        The beauty of thrift store shopping is getting boutique and designer brands for those prices and YES if you know them you can definitely find them;).

    • I am just like you. I pretty much buy 90% of my family’s clothing from Gap and Old Navy and get it all very cheap. I always wait to buy until they email me a percent off coupon and only shop from the clearance sections online (usually buying ahead for the kids). I also get free shipping with my Gap Silver credit card which is wonderful because I don’t have to leave my house to buy clothing- this is especially great because I don’t have to drag my kids out clothes shopping. I save gas and most importantly my sanity!

      I’m sure shopping at thrift stores nets some great deals but at this time in my life (stay at home mom to a 4 year old and a 2 year old and pregnant with our third child) I don’t have time to shop somewhere that I don’t know if I’ll find what I need for the price I want. Someday in the future when things are less hectic I may try out thrift store shopping though!

  • J says:

    Wait for sales! Our Goodwill has regular sales of 99 cent clothing items or 10 items for 10 dollars.

  • 1. Find out what the sale days and discounts are.
    2. If there’s no dressing room, wear biker shorts under your regular clothes, and a fitted tee or tank or cami under your shirt, so you can try on things with modesty in mind.
    3. Bring a tape measure to measure clothing if you won’t be trying it on or if buying for someone else.
    4. Check the pockets, buttons, zippers, snaps of clothing before buying it.
    5. Bring a list of needed sizes for your family.
    6. Bring bungee cords for your trunk if you buy something bulky.
    7. Bring hand sanitizer to wash up after shopping.

  • Valerie says:

    Our goodwill’s will only take one piece of clothing back per receipt. I know it is not sanitary, but I try on all my clothing there in the store. I don’t want to get anything unless it fits and I like it on me…this lesson I learned from years of not trying stuff on.

    Also, don’t forget about all the other items you can get as well like furniture, bikes, Christmas items, dishes, shoes, and boardgames. I only buy my shoes from goodwill. You can’t beat $2.50.

    I love Goodwill! It is my favorite above all other thrift stores in our area. I just hope they stop raising the prices 🙁

    Valerie @ http://www.thebloggingpastorswife.com

    • Jennifer says:

      I do not believe it is any less sanitary than trying clothes on at the store. Our goodwills/thrift stores wash the clothes before they are put out. In a store people are trying them on/ taking them home/returning them, etc. I am sure others will disagree, but I do not think the risk is any higher. I always have hand sanitizer and use it after shopping there. I do find the clothes hangers are dirty feeling because they are reused so much.

    • Sandra Lee says:

      I only buy clothes that I can wash in hot water at home.

  • Beth says:

    At our Goodwill here in Indiana, as long as you have the receipt, we can return an item within 7 days and they’ll give us in-store credit! It’s a lifesaver for us because I have four kids and never do I want to take them all “goodwilling” with me.

  • Angie says:

    So very true! I have found that the Goodwill can be very pricey! I have stopped going there! I do hit the small local thrift store, much better deals and the money does stay within our community! That is important to me.

  • Cheryl says:

    We have a local thrift store that designates its proceeds towards the local animal shelter. I am more about helping people than animals, but we find great buys there all the time. They have this promotion that you can buy their wooden nickel for $5 and get discounts every week on whatever they choose to put on sale. One time they had clothes for 50% off! I bought several name brand skirts and shirts for $1 each. I definitely saved more than 5 dollars.
    Sometimes I find things that aren’t on the wooden nickel sale, and that’s when I think a garage sale is better. At least you can negotiate at a garage sale, but the price is pretty much set at the thrift store.

  • Leisa says:

    This season I bought a nice pair of Gap swim shorts for my 9 year old at Salvation Army for $3.99. When I went to wash them, I found $5.00 in one of the pockets. SCORE!

    • Lana says:

      A friend’s daughter found a cheapie plastic wallet in the pocket of a coat she bought and it had a $100 bill in it!

      • Carla Sorensen says:

        I would feel obligated as a Christian to return the money to the Thrift Store. I found money in a purse I bought at a yard sale and returned it. I could not live at peace in keeping it. That is just my opinion, not something to debate! 🙂

        • Lana says:

          She did go back to the store and tell them about the money but they told her there was no way to know who donated it and to keep it. I did not feel that the entire story was needed in the comment.

  • Amy says:

    I find Goodwill prices too high and it seems nowadays people are holding onto their nice brand stuff longer so it is worn out or way out of style before it gets to Goodwill. I find mostly Wal-mart or Target clothes there and for like $1 more I could buy the same thing brand new. Our Goodwill sorts clothing by type and color, not by type and size so there is absolutely no way I’m going to go through every piece of clothing to find the few smalls! If they would sort by size I could be in and out of there in 15 minutes. By color– no way! I’ve told them so and they don’t change, so I don’t go there anymore.

  • Amanda says:

    My husband is NOT a good shopper so I go to Goodwill on quarter days, buy things that are good quality and that I think might fit and that I think he might like. I have him try on the stuff at home and then everything that doesn’t pass muster goes to the consignment shop. In the end I’m not out any money and I didn’t have to make my husband come shopping with me.

  • Emily says:

    I bought a pair of shoes that were about 1/2 size too small and while they are a little tight they were worth it. They are Etienne Aigner half-tone pumps and are perfect for work. I don’t remember what I paid for them but I don’t think it was more than $9.99. I have bought shoes and other clothes with labels still on them which is great. Also go to the nearest richest area for the thrift store there – that is where they drop off their stuff and you can get the best deals for the best stuff.

  • Emily says:

    Oh and one of the places I go to doesn’t have a dressing room anymore so regardless of their sign I used the restroom. Since I don’t think they do take returns I was not going to leave without trying them on. Nobody even noticed or cared.

  • Lana says:

    If you see something you might want go ahead and put it in your cart. You can always put it back later if you change your mind but if you leave it on the shelf and then change your mind it will surely be gone.

    🙂 Don’t go thrift store shopping with my Mother! She always wants what I find!

  • sabrina says:

    I agree with making sure you love the items, no matter how great of a deal you get. When I was pregnant with my daugter, I bought a bunch of cute little girl clothes at a garage sale, for 25 cents a piece, and lots of jammies for my son for 50 cents a piece. After going through their clothes a few months ago, I realized that most of the clothes I bought because they were such a great deal, were never worn! On the other hand, I paid $9.99 full price for an adorable outfit for my daughter when she was 5 months old(actually the first full priced baby outfit I bought her). It was a empire style top with matching flowery pants. I bought it sized 12 months,and used the shirt as a dress, and recently began putting it together as an outfit. I absolutely love the outfit, and she has worn it many times. Probably more than all the “great deals” outfits combined :0)

    • Melissa says:

      so funny I did the same thing bought lots of cheap baby girl clothes just because they were cheap at a thrift store and ended up not putting half of them on my lil girl, now I watch closely what I buy at thrift stores because its not a good deal if it just ends up sitting in the closet 🙂

  • Susan Engelhardt says:

    We call thrift store shopping, “Treasure Hunting.”

    It helps to get familiar with your area store’s policies. For example, our area Goodwill will take back clothing within 7 days with a receipt if the tags are still on the item. Also, our GW’s don’t have deep discount days like some other areas do.

    What is true for one area, may not be true for another.

  • Sonya Parga says:

    Hi Carrie…. My husband and I always love going to our local Goodwill Store… on Mondays they have 30% off for anyone over 55 and that is when we tend to find our real bargains. We have both added to our wardrobes as well as to our home with some real finds there!

  • PAM SMITH says:

    FIRST OF ALL, I LOVE THIS WEBSITE! SO MUCH HELPFUL INFORMATION. I AM COMMENTING ON THE THRIFT STORE ARTICLE. I AM A SINGLE MOM OF TWO TEENAGERS 17 AND 13, SO MONEY IS ALWAYS TIGHT!!!! I FIND MANY DEALS AT MY LOCAL THRIFT STORES! CHECK WITH YOUR STORE AND LOOK FOR MARKDOWN COLOR CODES, IE. RED MEANS 50% TODAY. SOME EVEN GIVE OUT CALENDARS WITH THESE ON THEM. MY FAVORITE IS B1G1F.

  • Meredith says:

    I have a list of things that I buy every year for our little guy (who’ll now be passing his stuff onto Baby Brother due in August!). What I have on the list doesn’t change much year to year, but a lot of it IS seasonal because we live in CO and we are an outdoorsy family, which means we need good gear for water AND snow as well as items that work in over 100 degree heat AND keep us super warm in the snow. It’s the seasonal gear-type items that tend to be pricey, even if you find it on sale (new retail) so I’m always keepin’ my eyes peeled for second-hand deals.

    I mark off what I have already purchased so I don’t buy more than we need – AND EVERY YEAR I take measurements of items that I did get new (clearance, on sale, as a gift) (inseams, sleeve length, body length) and note them on the list so that I can compare what I’m about to buy with those measurements.
    **When you’re buying things second hand, you never know how many times they’ve been handed down already; fabric can shrink over time. What looks like the steal of the century on a 5T fleece for next year may turn out to be money wasted on a 5T that is actually sized more like a 4T that your child is getting ready to outgrow this summer. 🙁

    Also ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check for holes, tears, stains, etc. I’m handy at sewing up little holes – but on some fabric this won’t work, or the hole is in a spot that it’ll just keep coming undone and the whole piece will fall apart (knees, etc.) – again, wasted money. I like to think I’m pretty handy at getting stains out 🙂 so usually I don’t worry too much about those.

  • Dana says:

    I know the Good Will stores out here in So. Cal have 1/2 price days. Each Day or week the color of the tag stipulates what is half price. Great bargains at even better prices!

  • Sally says:

    My teen is a Goodwill Wizard! When we go shopping, she’ll have ONE main goal in mind. One trip her goal was skorts. She scored several, beautiful, nicely fitting garments. Because she had focus, trying on 20 of one type of garment wasn’t a big chore. If we had just been looking for “summer clothing” it would have been overwhelming in our store.

  • Carrie says:

    I actually feel that the low pricetag at thrift stores allows me to take more chances. If I don’t love it, I’m _only_ out a few bucks. This makes shopping more fun and less stressful to me, especially since I might not have time to try things on with the kids there.

  • Mel says:

    I like going during peak garage sale season. So much ends up at thrift stores and it’s actually easier to thrift store shop than garage sale shop.

  • Sarah says:

    I have been shopping Goodwill for (*gasp*) 20 years now! My rules are:

    1. I never go with anyone else, because they will talk me into items I would not have bought.
    2. ALWAYS try on.
    3. Never buy anything you have to alter, because in my case, I usually won’t do it.
    4. In our area, we are close to two different Goodwill districts. They have totally different policies, and I have been able to pick the one I like better. They take debit, they hang children’s clothing, and they separate better. Oh, and they have shopping carts and the other district doesn’t!
    5. I shop the “reject” racks first by the dressing rooms-usually the best items are there! I forgot another good thing about the district I prefer-they allow you to shop the racks they are putting out, so you can see new things first. For some reason, the other district doesn’t allow that and yells at you if you touch the racks!

    I love Goodwill also because I can bring the kids and they play in the toy area while I shop.

  • Elle says:

    Thrift stores have great deals when the items are on sale. I didn’t like second-hand shops at first, but I have made friends with the workers who keep me informed about their sale days.

  • Amy says:

    I love our Goodwill – each week a different color tag is half-price, which is just over $1 for kids’ items. I try to go in once a week (w/o kids!) and see what I can find. Sometimes I end up with a pile, other times maybe just one item. One tip my mom shared – she’s found things with a broken zipper or some other fixable problem (she’s a great seamstress, so these things are easy for her to fix – probably not so easy for me!), and she’s successfully received a further discount on the item just by asking! I had no idea you could “haggle” at GW :).

  • Vee says:

    I agree with these suggestions.

    Knowing brand and quality is important. And also knowing the latest styles and trends. If you have a great sense of style, you will look good no matter where you shop. The thrift I go to, I constanly get, gap, talbots, avenue, lane bryant, coach, children’s place, victoria’s secret items.

    I get compliments on my clothes all the time!!!!!

    Once, I got dress that was talbots for 7.99, the orginal price tag was still on it…. $ 139.00!

    • Kelly says:

      It funny because I have bought a few pieces from Goodwill and I get more compliments on them than anything else.

  • Sam says:

    I like to go to the more ‘rich’ tows or areas, even if they’re farther than my local Goodwill. We can usually spot a few brand or designer items for very little money!

    • sabrina says:

      I love this method! Tourist type areas are the best too. Monterey, California has some really great thrift stores that have lots of nice beach type items, as well as lots of nice golf club sets. My kids are too young to care right now, but when/if they ever decide they are too cool for thrift stores, or are embarassed, I’m going to take them to one in a high-end city. Nice clothes, and if someone ever asks where they got it, they can always call it a vintage shop in *cool big city*.

      • Lana says:

        We went to Goodwill when in Boca Raton FL when we were there for our 25th anniversary trip and they had like new everything for very low prices. I have thrift store souveniers from most of the trips we have been on to major tourist areas. I don’t mean clothes. I often find antiques and beautiful dishes or expensive china in tourist areas. It is a wonderful memory to use those items in my home. My ulimate thrift store shopping trip would be in Europe! I hear Europeans don’t buy second hand things and so the thrift stores have awesome things for low prices 🙂

        • sabrina says:

          I’m kinda kicking myself now! We went to europe 3 years ago, before we had kids, and I don’t know why I didn’t think to go to second hand stores there! Guess I’ll have to make it back one day :0) Great job on the antiques! It’s nice when thrift stores actually price items out like they are a thrift store, rather than keeping high prices (retail value).

  • Mary says:

    I’ve been thrift store shopping for about two years now–not all that long, although I did shop at consignment stores for some years. My tips would be to try clothing items on. Only one store I go to does not have a fitting room, and for that one I stick to looking at tops that I can try on over something. Also, ask when they mark things down. One shop I go to marks things down the first of the month, while another does so at the end of the month. Ask if they have bag days or special sales. A community thrift store I go to has seasonal bag sales. A full bag of clothing goes for $10. The last time they had such a sale, I ended up with 10 items that were all very nice quality, including a great Gap denim jacket that fits me perfectly. Finally, I would suggest being patient and be prepared to stop in and find nothing at all. Accept that and be willing to stop in again to see what you can find.

  • Amy says:

    My main focus when I go to Goodwill is books for my soon-to-be third grader. For 50 cents apiece (paperbacks) I can often score a stack of Junie B Jones, Magic Treehouse, and other chapter books. Their price on books, at least, is competetive with garage sales, which I definitely cannot say for their clothes. My main frustration with clothes from our Goodwill is their habit of separating outfits (even dresses from diaper covers, for Pete’s sake!) so that they can charge for both pieces. I understand that when things come in in garbage bags it can be very difficult to keep things together, but forcing me to search for the diaper cover for a dress and pay for it separately is just over the top. Of course, I’ve been told different things by various employees. Once I was told that if the outfit was matched, I would not be charged separately, and then once when I did buy a matched outfit, the lady was actually grumbling out loud that the pieces should have been priced separately. Grr. So lately I have stuck to clearance racks for clothes and choose Goodwill to supply my daughter’s book habit!

    • Jill says:

      My Goodwill usually does keep sets together – they just charge more for the set. Today I saw a two-piece Carter’s pajama set, size 24 months and it was marked $2.29. Had they been priced individually, they’d have been .99/ea., but hey – I believe in keeping sets together!

  • Jennifer says:

    In KC I like Salvation Armies better than Goodwills b/c they have sales on items almost every day…a different color tag is a different % off. And they color code their clothes which is great since my husband prefers blue polos for some reason 🙂 We have also scored some good electronic items for super cheap at Salvation Armies (TV for $30, Modem for $10 and most recently a DVD player for $7!!!!) Also at my SA in Olathe KS they have Senior Days where your entire order is 25% off if your 65 or older…..I’m only 29 but my Dad is a senior and a really good sport!

  • Joy says:

    I’m an avid Goodwill shopper and always get lots of compliments on my clothes. The main question I get is, of course, “How do you find that great stuff at Goodwill?” The answer? I go a LOT. Sometimes as much as once a week. I always go the first Saturday of the month because that’s half price day in my area where the entire store is half off.

  • I’ve been thrifting for years! Here are some suggestions:

    1. Look in your yellow pages for stores other than Goodwill. Goodwill tends to be expensive, and sometimes disorganized. Explore the other thrift stores in your area to see which ones you like best. You may just find that your favorite thrift store is one you never knew existed!

    2. When looking for clothes for yourself, don’t be afraid to try on clothes that are two sizes too big or small. Often clothes are donated because they have shrunk up or were mis-sized to begin with, so even if you aren’t a size large, the large might fit! Plus, certain stores vanity size, so you just might fit a 4 when you are really a size 6.

    3. Consider breaking out your sewing machine to do a few minor alterations. I often buy dresses because I love the style and color, even if they are slightly too big. 10 minutes with my sewing machine (no measuring, no pins) and I can get that dress to fit. (I do this just about every Sunday, here’s an example: http://yardsalemommy.blogspot.com/2011/06/sunday-best-for-less-love-letter.html

    4. Have the courage to dig. Many stores have big bins of stuff. Dig down deep for buried treasure.

    5. Bring your smartphone to make sure you are getting a good deal. Some thrift stores price their items too close to retail. Make sure you aren’t buying something used at the cost of something new.

    6. Don’t be discouraged if you have an unsuccessful thrift store trip. One great day makes up for all the days there was nothing!

    Have fun and enjoy the treasure hunting!

  • Teresa says:

    The first way you can save is to purchase a Club Goodwill Membership Card for a mere $10.00 annually. With this card you save 10% off your entire purchase every time you shop, 25% off your entire purchase on your birthday and a monthly e-newsletter.

    Another way to save is to check the Goodwill Industries om your area (mine is New England) daily to find out which color barb is the 50% OFF barb of the day. When you hear that ‘squeel of excitement’ while shopping at Goodwill you know a shopper has found a desired item with a 50% off barb. LOVE IT!

    If you receive their e-newsletter and follow their site you may even find a couple of nice coupons that appear once or twice a year.

  • Our goodwill has awful prices – I can normally pick up inexpensive clothes at walmart or freds for the same price. And the employees are incredibly rude.
    Our salvation army and ‘fellowship center’ thrift store are great – I was just looking around my living room last week and realized that the only furniture I paid for is my nice $30 lazyboy couch from salvation army. The rest has been from the trash or family getting rid of it – it is amazing how many people get rid of or throw away nice stuff that is easily cleaned or repaired. We got our dining room set, desk, credenza, recliner, tv and stand, end tables, etc because people threw them out or didn’t want to bother with adding a few screws, changing a fuse, etc.
    When I go to yard sales I never pay what they are asking – most people will take less: I will ask for half off assuming they will ask for 75-90% of what they originally wanted, but many people will take 1/2 off their asking price because they just want to get rid of it.

  • Monica says:

    I’ve also been shopping at thrift stores for years. I have to agree that Goodwill has for some time now been really high priced. My store has “specialty items” that are marked extremely high (I don’t care if the jacket is all leather, it’s from the 70’s and is not worth $39.99!) and anything new with tags is automatically $9.99. (even the Walmart tshirt with the $3.00 clearance sticker on it) I find the Salvation Army to have much better prices.

  • Heather says:

    Don’t be fooled by size tags. Pre-worn clothes may be larger due to stretching out or smaller due to washing cycles. If you CAN try it on, do. This opens you up a bit too. I normally wear an 8, but due to this rule, I may try on pants in a 6 or a 10 and find they fit.

  • Heather says:

    PS Double and triple check for stains, small rips, etc…

  • Cris says:

    Our local Goodwills have monthly (sometimes even more) 1/2 off sale. The prices aren’t as cheap as garage sales but I’ve found many Gymboree, Children’s Place, Oshkosh stuff for $1-$1.5 so if something is really cute I’ll pay for it!

  • Honey says:

    Shop on half off days, have a list of things you are looking for, and try things on.

  • Miriam says:

    I loved this post. I just walked through my front door from being at one of the local thrift stores in my area, and then to read this post, too funny.
    I have loved thrift shop buying since I think I was born (I am 49) my mother always would take me when I was little, and I myself have done it with all my three kids. There are many wonderful things to be found at thrift stores and then again not to wonderful., you really do have to keep in mind what you need and what you really do not need to spend your money on. A bargain is not a bargain if it never gets used, appreciated, or given away, I have made many of those kinds of purchases with a regretful heart over the years
    I just saw a beautiful coach hand bag for $25.00 at the thrift store, boy was I tempted, but I walked away, you see in the fall I did happen to stumble upon a beautiful brown coach bag at the Good will store for a mere $9.98, now that was a bargain that I could not walk away from.
    I have come to realize that there will always be a bargain somewhere, some other time, but the big question is , is this my bargain for today?

    Be blessed ladies!!
    Miriam

  • Kelly Jean says:

    Thrift stores are a great place to find craft supplies. Want to make a frilly headband for your daughter,. buy a crazy floral blouse for a buck versus buying a yard of fabric. make a teddy bear from a sweater and old buttons. dress it up with a scarf a cute bear for only a few bucks and personal. I purchased all of my milk glass vases for center peices for my upcoming reception at the thrift store. for about $20.00 versus about $15.00 each.

    Find out when your favorite thriftstore half price day is . Yep thriftstores have a half price day.

    About 25% of my wardrobe came from thriftstores or consignment shops and about about 50% of my fiances have since we have been living together. When he works in a warehouse and needs cooler clothing items such as tshirts that can get dirty or torn why pay full price. Thriftstores are probably the second biggest thing that allows my family to take vacations. I have friends that spend around $1500 a year on clothing and I spend about $350.00.

  • trinity says:

    I am a thrift store addict. I find great deals on a lot of items. I recently got some coach loafers at my local Goodwill for $4 as well as a purse for $6. There have been so many things I have found there. I also find that many of them have different prices depending on the area as well as the state. I find the Vets and church thrift stores have better prices but sometimes it is all a hit or miss. You would be surprised some of things I have found!

  • Megan says:

    As an urban dweller who just got done battling bedbugs, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to be careful when buying things used. Bring items into your home in a sealed plastic bag. If they can be laundered, they need to be washed and dried on the hottest settings. If they can’t be laundered (furniture, etc.) they need to be thoroughly visually inspected and vacuumed off. Trust me, once they’ve invaded your home, they take a huge toll on both your budget and your mental health. This should in no way dissuade you from buying used items – but people need to be aware!

    • Joy says:

      I always seal up my bags from thrift store/garage sales then throw them in the deep freeze for couple of days (read this somewhere to do this first). Then, I try to wash everything on hottest setting and use Borax if it won’t ruin fabric. I also try to wash items separately from regular laundry.

      I also wipe shoes with antibacterial dish soap (inside and out). Then, I lightly wipe down with a spritz of Lysol on paper towel.

      • Megan says:

        The deep-freeze is a good idea too! But my exterminator told me you have to leave it in the freezer for two weeks to kill the bugs and their eggs. They’re hardy little critters.

    • Yvonne says:

      And adding to this is a little known bug called a carpet bettle. Evidence of them are their sheddings. The ONLY way to get rid of them is hitting them with wet raid -not just the spray( just hold the can close). Anyway they ride in on almost anything and the eat almost anything including dust, wood, paper,cloth, etc. Educate before having to remediate, this one is a tough bug.

  • ONe of things I have learned with thrift stores and garage sales is to shop with a plan. I never go just to browse I always try to have a list of things I need and are looking for. I also try to look at sales to see if I can get it for a cheaper price new. This for me is more specific to kids clothes with end of the year sales, coupons, and rewards (like gymboree gymbucks) I can get my kids brand new clothes for cheaper than what I can find in thrift stores.

  • Jill says:

    My ‘tip’ would have to be to KNOW your store’s policies. Just like you have to know your supermarket’s coupon policies, you must know your thrift store policies. Returns, exchanges, pricing, volunteering, etc. I am thrilled that my local Goodwill accepts returns within 90 days. 90 days!! And it’s cash back, not just in-store credit. Also, do NOT assume that your Goodwill is the same as everyone else’s that you read about on the internet pricing-wise. Because it’s not always true! My Goodwill only charges .99 per item of baby/toddler clothing (with very few exceptions, like NWT, outerwear, etc.)It changes to $1.99 once it’s 5T. That’s better than most any other thrift store’s regular prices. Also, there are NO half-price days at any of my local Goodwills. Yup. Bummer. *shrugs* It is what it is.
    This is such a great day to read about Goodwill, because I just went there this morning & got some excellent deals!! Which I will go ahead & post about here (you’re practically begging me to by posting this!) 😉 I bought a girl’s size 6 Janie & Jack shirt for $1.99. The first time I have EVER seen Janie & Jack! Yay! It’s a milestone in my book. Real cute, great condition. And on top of that, I bought a Hanna Andersson 5T dress for $1.99. I’ve purchased a Hanna Andersson thing in the past, but it was stained. Granted, it was at a thrift store for like, .40 or something ridiculous like that, but whatever. My first Hanna Andersson & Janie & Jack on the same day! Who knew?

  • Jen says:

    Thift store shopping isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly ok! If digging through old clothes, having to sort out sizes yourself, or dealing with a “no frills” shopping experience isn’t for you, I don’t recommend thrift stores. I’ve been going since I was a teenager though and enjoy it–I don’t get all my clothes there but I tend to get better quality items for the same price I pay for the cheapo stuff from Target/Kohls/etc. You have to have much more patience than simply going to a new clothes store, that’s for sure. I never go when I’m in a rush/feeling sick/hungry/etc and I wear comfy clothing (slimmer fitting so I can try items on) and even leave my purse in the car so my hands are free for digging. Try all the stores in your area, as some stores are definitely better than others. I’ve been to probably 10 in my big city and luckily the one closest to my house is also my favorite! See if any have a sale day too–I never shop at my local store on a regular day, only their weekly 1/2 off day. I try to go with a couple items in mind, which saves me from spending hours there. For instance, I really wanted a summer skirt the other day so I went on 1/2 price day, looked just at the skirts section, and came away after 30 minutes with two perfect skirts for which I paid $6 total. I didn’t even walk through the rest of the store. I do buy clothes for my son there too, though only if they’re in excellent shape, a great brand, or something really unique. Make sure you always, always thoroughly check for holes and stains. Sometimes I dab a little water on a stain to see if it seems like it might budge. I have bought my share of clothes I didn’t inspect fully only to get home and find out the zipper is broken or there’s an unmovable stain! I also buy toys at the thrift store. I’m really selective and don’t buy “junk”, but I’ve gotten some great name brand, like-new stuff. I generally only buy plastic-type toys that can be disinfected, though for my son’s Halloween costume last year I did take a chance and buy a stuffed animal, which I just threw in a very hot washing machine and dryer immediately.

    And actually immediately washing your clothes is another really important tip! I go so far as to tie up the bag outside and carry it right downstairs to the laundry. My city has had bed bug problems so I don’t take any chances! It goes in a hot wash and then right into the hot dryer for an hour to make sure there are no critters. Maybe a little paranoid but I’d rather be safe than sorry, and it’s not like I won’t be washing everything anyway.

    • Robin says:

      What you do with your TS finds…washer and dryer for an hour, is great. My hubby works for a pest control company, that deals with bed-bugs (they have the dogs, and everything! (keep em retrained monthly, it’s awesome)… anyway, the best thing to do is to put anything “soft” in your dryer on the hottest setting for a minimum of 30 minutes. If your dryer is full, longer is good. This does do a number on those animals with sound buttons inside…they tend to melt 🙂 (we won’t buy those used).
      and of course, we also wash all clothes that come to us second-hand, just to be safe.

      Segue, and response to other comments….When it comes to shoes, if they’re something you’re going to wear all day, experts recommend buying new, b/c shoes do mold to feet, and you don’t want something that has molded or worn to fit someone else’s feet. If it’s just a sandal or a dress shoe for special occasions, I don’t think it matters much. (And if the experts disagree even there, too bad! 😉 )
      I grew up shopping second-hand, and do it to this day. I just wish I could find jeans for my tall hubby at thrift stores. But oh well. I actually stopped at a couple shops today. The kids wanted to. 🙂 My son is on a Harry Potter kick lately, scored a Harry Potter hardcover (book 1) for $2 and a potter mug for a quarter. (these were not goodwill, but local thrift…I find our goodwill to be overpriced as well, except maybe on color sales 🙂

  • mildred lane says:

    On the last week end of the month at Goodwill everything is 1/2 price. Also check to see what day is Seniors Day w/ a certain % off.
    You can donate to Goodwill, get a donation slip and use it when you do your income tax.

  • elisabeth says:

    I love our goodwill. It has 29 cent items depending on what color tag it is. I have bought tons of stuff then listed it on ebay making lots of extra cash. I got our couch there for 15 cents. We are lucky that our store does seperate by sizes and gender. I buy all of our clothes there for 29 cents each and its well worth it. I get winter coats there for my younger boys and buy size up whenever I see them. My 18 yr old son gets most of his clothes there name brand too like areo hollister abercrombie and ect. I wait til they are 29 cents it makes the spending much easier

  • Ah, the thrift store. I could spend hours there, not only for clothes but for household items, planters and seasonal items. They may need a little work but it is fun and cheap! I can have so much fun in the thrift store. And plus, I recently began a financial overhaul and the thrift store will soon become my best friend…when I eventually need something. Also garage sales are great!

    Check out my financial journey and frugal tips here!

    http://fififrugality.blogspot.com

  • When you sees something you are interested in, grab it right away!

    My mom and I scored a white iron bed for $14 about 20 years ago. I still use the bed in my home today (then I was heading off to college, now I’m a mom and the bed is gorgeous in our guest room.)

    Right after we saw it, we paid immediately… and while we where there several people tried to buy it after us. I’m so glad we paid right away so no one else could have bought it right from under us!

  • Julie says:

    Coach & Banana Republic at a Goodwill!?! You are a lucky lady to find such awesome brands. My local thrift shops never have such high-end merchandise. (And I know because I stop in all the time.) My area is generally depressed & I have considered making a drive to a ritzier part of the state to check out their wares, but never thought it would be worth it. Now I’m reconsidering!

  • Joy says:

    We have two thrift store chains in my area, Salvation Army and Rescue Mission Thrifty Shopper. And we are getting a Goodwill soon, too.

    Our Rescue Mission has a rewards card. You accumulate points every time you buy something. Once you get so many points you can redeem for a gift certificate (I think). The Salvation Army often runs $7 off $20-$25 in local Pennysaver or Clipper magazine.

    I have bought lots of brand new with tag stuff for my three boys at Rescue Mission, including Gymboree, for under $3. I even bought a hardly worn Columbia ski jacket for $7 for my 12 year old son last fall. I love the Rescue Mission stores! I’m not a fan of Salvation Army though because they staple their tags to clothing and it often leaves pinholes.

  • Kimberly says:

    The town I live in has a local thrift store (not a Goodwill or Salvation Army) that has 2 locations….one of which is 2 miles from my house. They have a Facebook Fan page as well as an email list. I signed up for both and they send out specials daily! They always run a 50% off all clothing on just about any holiday…even government ones like MLK or Presidents Day. They often have 99cent kids clothes days. They also have 4-5 colors of price tags. Each week, a different color tag is marked at the front door as being 50% off.

    I always try to shop for my now 3 year old on either a 50% all clothes day or the 99 cent kids day. I am usually able to get my son outfitted for the season for $20 – $30 bucks.
    I never was a thrift shopper when I was growing up, but now I understand the importance of buying frugally. I tend to get things for myself there or on clearance racks at Penneys, Kohls, Target, etc.

  • Elizabeth says:

    -Make sure everything opens and closes properly. (Buttons, Snaps, zippers)

    -KNOW YOUR PRICES. That is the best tip I can give you. Some thrift stores think that certain brands are really high quality and mark them up really high. It ends up not being worth it! (I’ve noticed this more in smaller towns).

    – Don’t buy undergarments….Unless they have the tags on them.

    -Be prepared to spend a lot of time in order to get good deals. Some days you just won’t get deals. The next day you may get tons.

    Oh…I learned something pretty cool last month. Goodwill has OUTLETS. They take all the clothes, toss them in a huge bin and you go through them. They then charge by the pound. Be prepared to search to get deals, but in the end I found GREAT deals. I found NWOT Candies, Old Navy, Calvin Klein and a few others. I found tons of Kohl’s, and Gymbo in great shape for my DD!!

    • Paula Jolly says:

      Outlets are fun- if you are aggressive and don’t mind elbowing and pawing through stuff while everyone else is doing the same. It can get nasty! I wore gloves when I went because broken glass and even disgusting unsanitary things were sometimes in the mix. At ours, you paid by the pound, which is good in some respects, but bad if you are buying things like dishes and exercise weights! I finally stopped going because I was buying too many unneeded items.

  • Jeanne Simons says:

    I also find that Goodwill is much higher priced than many other thrift stores, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good deals to be found. I bought a brand new (still in the box) pair of Timberlake sandals for $3.50. I don’t know why they were this low, but I love them.
    1) I prefer to go by myself. It does take some time/patience to “dig” through stuff.
    2) I usually just take my money in my pocket (no purse) and my iPod — listening to music is my “ME” time, so I feel really rejuvenated after I’ve spent some time listening to music AND it allows me to focus on looking instead of any “drama” that might be going on around me. I really hate listening to mother/daughter disagreements over clothing or somebody’s conversation on a cell phone.
    3) I find great deals for Christmas presents. Some people might be horrified with this, but I know that my mom & dad don’t care if it came from Goodwill. So I have ideas of what certain people like and pick it up throughout the year if I find a good deal. My mom & dad both love to read, and books can be picked up for much less than new. If you know your sister or whomever would be hurt if they found out you bought them something second-hand, then just don’t shop for them.
    4) I have a list of books I look for — I work for the library in my town. I have a list of books that I know patrons have asked for but are out of print. I am willing to keep an eye out for the books because if they are cheap, it is worth it to me to get it to make the library a better place. I also happen to know there are some books that are “rare” and therefore pricey on Amazon. I’ve found a few of these and it feels pretty good to buy a book for $1 and sell it for $25 because it is out of print but still in demand.

  • Amy pickett says:

    Sign up for thei email coupons available in every state. Also look for the color that is on sale for that day and save even more,
    We love Goodwill!

  • Barb says:

    When trying on blue jeans at goodwill be sure to check if the zipper stays up. I purchased 4 pair and two of them had bad zippers. My goodwill took them back without question but I had to take a store credit and use within 14 days- I still get ALL of my jeans at goodwill because they have the styles that I like ( Not low waistlines).

  • jennifer says:

    I love my Goodwill! Most kids clothes are 1.99 or less. I’ve scored lots of Gap, Children’s Place, Gymboree, etc for my son and even bought with the sole purpose of taking to the consignment store.

    There is one about 45 minutes from us that charges by the pound. I’ve not been there yet, but want to get there soon! Starts at .99/pound and goes down from there depending on the weight.

  • Nancy says:

    I decide what I need, and go when I have time to really look. I got through the racks, looking at the tags for the brand names. I like Ralph Lauren, Eddie Bauer, and Lands’ End, for casual wear, like tees.
    For children’s clothing, I look for Gymboree, Gap, Children’s Place.
    I look for my favorite brands of jeans, only.
    I try to go on 50 percent off days, and when they have 99 cent jeans. With today’s economy, however, it is very difficult to deal with the crowds. A couple years ago, there weren’t huge crowds, but today it is much different.
    I have found great deals and many are new, with tags still on them. My husband has a dozen Ralph Lauren dress shirts, for work, and all of them came from Goodwill.
    You need to go when you have time to search. You can’t be in a hurry, or you will make mistakes. Forget about going with little kids!
    I have also found wonderful, collectibles, for gifts. New! Some vintage, and all exceptionally nice. I have found new, in the box, Snow Village houses, wonderful Christmas ornaments, Depression glass, cut glass, and great baskets. I shop all year long to find nice items for gift baskets.
    You can get expensive baskets for a couple dollars, and decide on a theme, and create amazing gift baskets for very little money. Think outside the box and find things other than baskets to hold gifts. I recently found a large, pressed glass bowl that I will fill with gifts. It can be used as a punch bowl or a large salad bowl. Use your imagination regarding things to put in baskets, or other containers.
    My Goodwill always has nice wood items, such as birdhouses. These can also make nice gifts.
    You just need to use your creativity and you can come up with inexpensive gifts that will “wow” your family and friends. When I had very little money, I created the best gift baskets because I had to substitute creativity for funds. My family still talks about how great those gift baskets were!

  • Jenna Burns says:

    Just remember not all thrift stores are created equal.

  • Maegen says:

    I’m a Value Village girl, myself.

    I go on their half-off days, which here in WA state, are every Monday holiday (President’s Day etc…). Yes, I’m so cheap I do the thrift store only on half off day-you read that right!

  • Diane says:

    I shop at our Goodwill & they let you brings things back. At our Goodwill they have colored tages on them & each wk a diff. color tag is 50% off. They also give 10% for seniors every day, you just have to ask for it. I was told that they can’t ask. Also thrift stores don’t charge tax. So there is even more savings. I bought a really nice binder with handles for my couponing, I paid about $2.50 for it. I went back a few wks later & bought a Mead binder with several pockets in it, put all my coupons in it & went shopping. I didn’t like it at all because it had no handles. It’s a great binder & looks like new. Just wasn’t meant for me. I paid about $3 for that one but have seen them in the store for over $10.
    I have bought 2 pc Alferd Dunner outfits (3 sets at 1 time) for $5.00@ at the Goodwill. Even the cashier said what a deal.

    I also shop at out Salvation Army thrift store. On the first & third Fri. of every month they have 50% off everything & they too let me return things.

    When I go shopping for cloths (blouses) I have taken clippings off of my pants (inside seams or pockets) that I want to match up & store them in my purse. So next time I get a new blouse it will match the pants I have. I was so tired of buying blouses & not matching anything I had. Which meant I had to buy a new pair of pants. So now I don’t waist my money.
    Love to shop those thrift stores.

  • Shawn says:

    After years of thrift store shopping here are my tips:

    1. Shop on 1/2 price days or sale days. Some stores have sales on certain color tags every day…focus on those tags.
    2. Coats, dresses, jeans, dress clothes are good buys at thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army, however with the popularity of stores like Old Navy, Ross, & TJ Maxx I find that I can get shirts at a better deal new.
    3. Stick to name brand, higher end used clothing…even if you have to spend $3-$4 instead of 99 cents…they will last longer & you will get more for your money.
    4. Look for thrift “boutiques”…they are becoming more & more popular…many specialize in used, name branding, teen clothing. They usually buy & sell. You will spend more per piece than you will at Goodwill, but if you have teenagers you will find very nice, fashionable, name brand clothing at a fraction of the price that you would pay for it new….and if you take good care of it & turn it frequently you can sell it back for store credit. (I have a 16 year old daughter who refuses to buy anything but used jean because they are already “broken in”.)
    5. Thrift stores are a great resource for sports clothing…baseball pants, soccer shorts, etc. Kids wear these items for short seasons then promptly grow out of them before the next season, why buy new?

  • Joanna says:

    If I’m close to a thrift store, I like to stop in if I have time. I never know what I might find on that given day. My lastest and best deal: a pair of running shoes that were my exact size in great condition that retailed $100. It was almost the exact same pair that I had almost purchased that day!
    One tip: I volunteer at a thrift store and I get 50% off anything. My thrift store already is cheapest in the area, and when I pair just 75 cents for each pair of shoes, etc. I don’t mind wearing something for just a season! I then donate it back to the thrift store. I go in just one day a week for 2-3 hours. I love it!

  • Michelle says:

    I love thrifting! I just bought my brand new loveseat from goodwill for $45 bucks, 2 real wood audio towers with glass off craigslist for 90, My nice glass coffee table from Habitat for Humanity for $55 bucks. I like to mix new and old (buying used gives me more money for new stuff, like my $350 dollar recliners). I have found here our Salvation army is crazy overpriced so I usually score knick nacks from there (I love brass and ‘scroll’ metal style works).

    Clothing wise for my child I look for Gap, Childrens Place, Gymboree, I have even found some cute Janie and Jack jeans new for a few bucks!

    For me I look at Banana Republic, Gap, Talbot, NYCO, Ann Taylor. Check for missing buttons and clasps, broken zippers, rips, stains.

    I figure you wear something one time and its used, so why not score some nice deals from something someone outgrew, or bought and never wore…lol

    My husband loves to read and gets new books from Barnes and Noble, but always seems to find 4 or 5 thrift books to throw in my buggy, which ends up being more than half price for all of those than for the one new book.

    I like to have a good mix of old and new, and if I want to spend an afternoon shopping, I grab a Starbucks coffee and shop away without worrying about breaking the bank!!

  • Andrea Q says:

    A quality thrift store is great if it is in a convenient location, but if you have to drive out of your way, consider the cost of gas in your bargain hunting trip. It takes two gallons of gas for me to go to the Goodwill and back, so that’s almost $7. If I come home empty handed, I wasted money (and an hour of my time driving).

  • Jen says:

    I show a a local private owned thrift store rather than Goodwill or Salvation Army most of the time. If I happen to have a few extra minutes while I’m in town running errands or picking up my son, I can stop and quickly look for items we need. Now that the owner has gotten to know me, she will often keep things back for me or let me know about upcoming sales. Last fall she asked me if there was anything in particular I was looking for. She ended up saving for me a brand new American Eagle wrap around sweater with tags on that cost me only $3.

  • Teresa M says:

    Like several people said, I can buy clearance and get so much in the way of new clothes for my daughter. I have learned when is the best time for clearance for stores like JCPenny, Sears, Old Navy and Kohls. My best deal for clearance was a 65 dollar dress at Penneys that I got on clearnace and then a coupon for less than 3 dollars. My goodwills are just too expensive here. They want sometimes 10 for a purse I can buy on clearance at KOhls for that price or less.

  • Kristine W says:

    I too have slowly been going to Goodwill more. I don’t necessarily buy clothes there since I am like many of you and buy new on clearance for cheaper. But I go on their 50% off everything day, and get amazing deals on books for my kids. I have found many chapter books that look like they have only been read once for .30-.50 a book. I love that price on books. 🙂

  • Kristen says:

    Man! I live in South FL… And let me tell you I have no good GW’s near me! I do get great deals, but no sales as mentioned in above comments. I do however have a great book store run by our library where discards and donations are sold for anywhere from free to $5! I was wondering, do any of y’all have this in other states, towns, etc?

  • Teresa says:

    At my nearby Goodwill in a more wealthier town, it is very clean and has really nice young fashionable girls working there. I went in on the 2nd of the month in spring and the girls were putting outfits together, etc. on the floor. I wasn’t sure if an outfit with their tags still on was only $1.99, so I asked. She gave me insight that stores like Target, Kohl’s, etc donate merchandise that didn’t sell on clearance on the 1st of every month. They usually take 1-3 days to unload and mark the merchandise depending on the truck load. I was able to get several outfits and a sleeping bag set…all from Target…all with the original tags still on. That seems like a great deal to me!

  • Mona says:

    My mother and I used to go thrift store shopping ever Tuesday. It was our “junking day”. We had such fun finding our treasures. We had 3 stores and it would take us all day, but we loved every minute of it. I lost my mom 6 years ago and it just isn’t the same. I still love to thrift shop, but miss my best friend with me!

  • syd says:

    Some thrift stores for whatever reason seem to unintentionally specialize in a particular thing. For example, I have learned the Goodwill in my town does not have decent kids’ clothing, but they have a wonderful selection of books for 50 cents. However, the Goodwill in the next town has a great selection of kids’ clothing $1.50 – 3.00 a piece (Gymboree, Justice, Gap, Ralph Lauren, etc.) and womens’ tops, but no good books.

    So it pays to familiarize yourself with the different shops in your area and see what kinds of inventory they have.

    I’ve also found good used clothing at Peddler’s Malls. It’s not just antiques!

    Another weird example — the Habitat store here in town has wonderful cheap prices on furniture and books and household items. The next town over has a Habitat store which is ridiculously overpriced.

    I love Salvation Army because they sort everything (at least around here) by color.

    I also agree don’t pay for something just because it’s cheap. If you don’t love it, it doesn’t fit, it’s partly broken, torn, or whatever, it’s not worth it. You will find those gems in one piece and great condition!

  • Aly says:

    Think of how many things you or someone you know has bought shoes, clothes, gifts that don’t fit, aren’t your taste or are never used. I have donated tons of things over the years. I love finding deals on things that are sometimes new with the tags still on. I hate paying full price & if it doesn’t work for me I usually have a family member who can use it or sell it in a garage sale or just donate it again if I don’t use it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s recycling at its finest. Good for the environment & our wallets. I get great deals on clearance at regular stores too, but for me it’s the thrill of the bargain hunt.

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