Thrift Store Shopping Tips

thrift store shopping tips

Photo by wild_kowgrrl

You never know what you might find ...

recession guideShopping at thrift stores is not only trendy these days, it can save you a bundle when you find amazing deals on toddler stuff and more like these, scored by hgibsonorc:

A doll house-shaped bookcase for $20, just missing some hardware ($100 at Target).

A real Hannah Montana acoustic guitar, never used (still in the box), just missing a string, for $20 ($120 new; $1 to replace the string at a guitar shop).

Laptop charger for $3.00 ($120.00 at Office Depot).

Maternity clothing from Mimi's Maternity and Motherhood Maternity (tops and jeans) for under $5 each.

Baby clothes from $0.99 to $3.99 a piece.

In the spirit of saving money all this month in our Get Real Recession Guide, hgibsonorc spills her secrets and strategies:


How do you find second hand stores near you?

I check the phone book or the web, particularly for Goodwill stores. The independent, more alternative newspapers advertise a ton of funky, locally run thrift stores.

Are there different price ranges among thrift stores?

You will find a difference between the items in the ritzier parts of town versus the poorer parts. Each community has different kinds. My favorites are the stores in the artsy and green areas of town because they have some retro and funky types of clothing -- the kind that will buy your clothes and then resell them as opposed to consignment where you have to wait until they sell the item to receive any money.

Can you tell a "good" thrift store when walking in?

A "good" one is subjective to who the consumer is. Personally, when I walk in to a Goodwill, I like to see that things are in order and not all over the floor and it doesn't smell like moth balls. If I start sneezing right when I walk in, that's a bad sign! The prices of clothes at the Goodwill are sometimes pretty high. Their children's shirts and pants for example can be $3.99 each, and I can almost go to Target and get something new for $5. So, I pick and choose.

Are certain days better for shopping than others?

Usually thrift stores have tag days where a certain color of tag is 50 percent off or something like that. You can save a lot if you take advantage of those days. I think if you go once a week you can keep up on things/new shipments. My husband and I used to browse the malls on the weekend just to kill time but now we go to Thrift stores LOL. We waste a lot less money while still entertaining ourselves shopping.

Any shopping tips?

Basically you can go by the name brand if you're into that kind of thing. Thrift stores carry clothes from the GAP, Children's Place, Gymboree, etc., and their prices are pretty cheap. I've shopped at these stores and they sometimes want to charge an arm and a leg for a shirt. You just have to look at the clothes and make sure there is no stains, rips, etc., and if one of these items are $3.99 or less, I would say it's a good deal!

When it comes to clothes that are originally from Target, Walmart, etc., the Goodwill can sometimes overprice them and it may be cheaper or just as cheap to buy them new. I have been to children's resale stores, as well. and depending on the store, you can get some good deals. The ones in my area, however, really overprice stuff (in my opinion) and I can get the same items cheaper at the Goodwill or on Craigslist.

Honestly, I would like to buy all of my items "American Made." That can get really expensive since the US's cheap labor comes from China, Latin America, etc. The next best thing, in my opinion, is to buy used. I do not like to support sweat shops and the deterioration of small mom and pop American businesses. They are making a comeback in the form of thrift stores, and I believe that if enough people boycott these large companies that are making a profit off of desperate people overseas, then we will have to start bringing back American made products and it will strengthen our sense of community and economy.

We save a ton of money buying used (just as good as new) products. Especially when it comes to baby clothes. It's really just silly to buy new baby clothes and items when they outgrow them so quickly.

++What was your greatest thrift store find?

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