Thrift store shopping is a fun and easy way to slash your family’s spending. Whether you’ve shopped at thrift stores before or plan to give them a try, it’s important to find out what you need to know in order to make the most of thrift store shopping.
Then, you’ll want to plan for the items which you’re most likely to find at thrift stores that will also save you the most money. I recommend visiting several thrift stores in your area before buying much. You’ll want to get a comfort level with the type and quality of merchandise on a store’s shelves.
There are some thrift stores near my house that I rarely visit for various reasons. In one case, the store stocks a lot of items that are in poor condition, such as clothing with stains or tears. It takes a long time to go through the clothing racks because there are so many bad pieces.
Another store which I don’t frequent sells their items for higher prices than other thrift stores. I also haven’t found much that I wanted to buy on my last few trips there.
Here’s a list of 10 items you can really save a ton of money buying at thrift stores.
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Keep an eye out for blenders, food processors, crockpots, coffee makers, hair dryers and other small household appliances.
Since most thrift stores sell items “as is” and don’t accept returns, look for these items at stores that test them first. There might be a colored dot or label on the item to indicate that it’s been tested and works.
That’s not to say that the item works like new. However, I’ve never had a problem with any small appliances I’ve purchased from my favorite thrift store.
One of the top ways I save money is buying my family’s clothing at thrift stores. You may not always find what you want, when you want it. However, over time, you can outfit your family in style at a fraction of the cost of what you’d spend at the mall.
I’ve often found brand new clothing with tags still attached. This can happen when stores donate their leftover merchandise. It can also occur if someone buys an item that doesn’t work out and forgets to return it, or receives something as a gift that they don’t end up wearing.
You might also find special occasion wear such as bridal gowns, prom gowns, tuxedos, career and job interview suits, and formal suits. These are usually in excellent condition, often having been worn only one time.
In my area, kids’ clothing generally costs around $2 to $3 per piece. Adult clothing costs $4 to $6 per piece. Jackets, dresses, coats and high-end items may cost more.
Toys and Games
Kids can make their allowances go a lot further at thrift stores than anywhere else. They’ll quickly learn that a toy that costs $30 at Walmart might cost $2 or $3 at a thrift store.
My younger daughter once bought a Barbie RV, which would cost around $100 new, for $4 at Goodwill.
I’ve also found completely new – shrink wrapped – items in the toy section that I’ve put away to use for kids’ birthday party gifts. On occasion, I’ve found big bags of Lincoln Logs and LEGO blocks, too.
I haven’t had good luck finding pots and pans in good condition at thrift stores, but I’ve seen plenty of glass cookware. Nonstick pots and pans tend to become scratched and worn much more quickly than glass items.
Watch for glass pie plates, Corningware blue flower baking dishes, glass casseroles and more. I’ve paid around $2 to $3 for these.
Before buying, check them for deep scratches and chips. The thrift stores in my area don’t seem to put damaged glassware on their shelves, but your experience may vary.
My girls love to read, and they prefer real books rather than Kindle books. I purchase books for my daughters on almost every thrift store shopping trip. It’s true that many of the books on thrift store shelves are very old.
However, some are fairly recent. I’ve frequently found books in popular series such as Wimpy Kid, Warriors, and Captain Underpants. In my area, most thrift stores sell paperbacks for 50 cents (occasionally 75 cents) and hardbacks for $1.00 (sometimes $1.50). On occasion, I’ve seen sales offering books even cheaper, such as 5 for $1.00 or fill a bag with books for $5.
Shoes and Boots
Even if you wear a special size, check thrift store shoe aisles frequently. I love to wear Crocs during evenings and weekends. On one thrift store shopping trip, I found a pair of Crocs designed for office wear.
Check shoes for wear and overall condition. Also, make sure that the sole and heel aren’t worn off unevenly to one side.
I’m picky about what shoes I’ll buy used, yet I still find excellent shoes for myself and my daughters on a regular basis. Most shoes for kids cost about $2 to $3. Grown-up shoes might cost $4 to $5 or more if they’re a high-end brand.
Purses and Tote Bags
You’ll find scads of purses and tote bags at thrift stores. You’ll probably need to look these over especially carefully for marks, worn spots, and broken straps or zippers. Most thrift stores keep their expensive designer handbags under glass, so you need to ask a clerk to see them.
In my area, purses usually cost $2 to $3, except for designer brands, which can run $20 or more.
You know that spiffy new bike you buy for your kid? It’ll look new for maybe a week if you’re lucky.
Kids tend to get stuff dirty and scratched in no time flat. That’s what kids do, and you won’t feel so bad about it if you spent 1/2 or even 1/3 the price of a new bike by getting one either from a thrift store or from Craigslist.
When your kid outgrows the bike, get most of your money back by reselling it on Craigslist. Or, donate it to a charity thrift store for a tax deduction.
Some thrift stores have more baby gear than others, and it might come in cycles, depending on who is donating what. I wouldn’t buy child safety seats at a thrift store, but almost anything else is a go.
You may find cribs, Pack ‘N’ Plays, baby tubs, bassinets, bottles, blankets, clothing, and almost anything else you can think of that you’d need for your baby. For larger items, if you can’t find it at a thrift store, try Craigslist.
I really don’t like to pay full price for sporting goods, since kids either outgrow them quickly, lose interest, or only use them for a few months out of a year. Thrift stores are great places to find bike helmets, baseball gloves, balls, and swim gear such as kickboards and safety wings/vests, among other items.
You might spend $2 to $3 for something that would cost $15 to $20+ in a regular store.