National Thrift Shop Day is tomorrow, August 17th, so I’m sharing my two cents on the benefits of thrift shopping as well as some thrift store tips and tricks to keep in your back pocket the next time you go!
I grew up frequenting thrift stores and garage sales alike. But while I’m no stranger to foraging for treasures, I know not everyone is as eager. I also know this is largely based on stigmas and rumors.
Thing is, thrift shopping is completely safe and a total blast! Half the fun is the hunt. As long as you go with an open eye and an open mind, you’re sure to find something you simply cannot pass up.
I briefly mentioned thrift store shopping in my blog post: creative ways to save money. But, to get a bit more in depth, here are three super good reasons why you should add thrift shopping to your hobbies.
One, reusing and repurposing products and clothing articles decreases waste.
Call it a form of stewardship, if you will.
The fact is, we live in a consumerist society. With new trends and upgrades hitting the market practically every day, products are traded in and thrown out more rapidly than demand can keep up with.
In fact, millions of tons of textile waste get sent to landfills each year. Most items will never decompose within our lifetime, if at all.
Frankly, that’s really disturbing. You don’t have to be super environmentally conscious to agree with me.
Two, your stuff is more unique than anyone else.
This is probably the most important reason I shop at thrift stores.
I’ve never wanted to wear what everyone else is wearing. I wear what I like. Trends change too rapidly and usually fall by the wayside within months if not weeks.
Not by a long shot would I ever call myself a fashion-minded individual. However, others have complimented my outfit and asked where I bought it so many times, I’ve lost count.
If you like to be creative with your OOTD (outfit of the day) or throw together a crazy ensemble for a party (Hello, Ugly Christmas Sweater parties), shopping at a thrift store will guarantee a one-of-a-kind look.
I even thrift household items, books, and seasonal décor to find unique pieces I won’t find on a retail shelf with 50 others of its kind.
Three, you save money. Duh.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma that says thrift stores are for poor people only. But this couldn’t be more wrong.
Yes, families trying to scrimp and save wherever they can definitely benefit from thrift store shopping. But you don’t have to be on a major budget to enjoy getting a steal of a deal, right?
I love it when I find brand new items with tags still attached! Nothing screams retail therapy quite like that thrill.
Although it largely depends which thrift stores you shop at, you will still save an average $10 per clothing article, even compared to brands like Target.
In fact, I thrifted almost all my wedding décor and tableware. In total, I saved close to $500 shopping at thrift stores for wedding paraphernalia.
You can read my DIY micro wedding post here, if you haven’t already!
My Favorite Thrift Stores
Of course, I conduct my thrift store treasure hunting in the Phoenix area. But all three of these brands operate throughout most of the country!
All of these thrift stores take extensive precautions in light of the pandemic. Surfaces are sanitized, some have completely done away with fitting rooms, and aisleways are wider than they were before.
By far, Deseret is the most organized thrift store I’ve explored. More importantly, they also sell the least expensive items!
In general, most clothing articles range from $3 to $7. Household items like glassware sell for as low as $.25 each!
Since DI is run by the LDS church, the TLC and attention to detail is apparent in clothing displays and overall atmosphere within their stores.
DI also boasts the largest modest clothing collection I’ve ever seen. Ladies looking for long dresses and appropriate workwear know how real the struggle is!
Keep in mind, though, DI is closed on Sundays.
I probably visit Savers more than all other thrift stores due to its proximity to work.
This specific location seems to always have a few brand-new, high-end items on the floor. Whether it’s furniture, brand name shoes, or cute décor, I almost always find something in perfect condition.
Everyone knows this one! This thrift store giant is hard to miss.
Did you know you can also shop Goodwill online? Similar to OfferUp or even eBay, thrifty shoppers can browse available items online and have them shipped to their door. Peep those brand new Keen shoes for $35!
How to Find the Best Deals
While it may vary by state and even city, most thrift stores have special discount days to save even more cash.
For instance, Arizona Goodwills offer 50% off per item every day for specified tag colors. Anyone with a military ID gets 25% off their purchase on Sundays.
Both Goodwill and Savers designate Tuesday as senior discount day for those 55+ (and yes, you might need to show your ID).
Unfortunately, Deseret doesn’t have a rewards program. But Savers and Goodwill send monthly coupons and other seasonal promotions throughout the year.
Furthermore, Savers is celebrating National Thrift Shop Day by doubling member reward points this week, August 17-22, 2021.
A Few More Tips
1. Merchandise comes in by the truckload, literally. This means you need to go thrift shopping often to catch the latest goods being stocked.
2. Valuable items may be hidden. Sometimes, you just need to dig to find a treasure.
3. Always examine thrift store items carefully for damages. While the warehouse crew does exclude pieces that aren’t good quality, they could miss a chip or a stain.
4. Along those same lines, if you find something you might still be able to work with, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a steeper discount. Example: I found the cutest denim summer dress, but it had a slight bleach stain at the bottom. I asked and got it 50% off since I was going to experiment with it when I got home.
5. Not all inventory comes from the surrounding neighborhood. Ask the manager where most donations come from, or where the truck delivers from. Sometimes the least suspecting areas might have the most gems!
The Best Items Scored While Thrifting
Even if you can’t quite convince yourself to scour through the clothing section, there are still so many other reasons to go thrift store shopping.
If you’re crafty and into DIY projects, if you’re an avid reader but hate spending $20 for a book you’ll only read once, or if you’re a collector of specific wares, thrift shopping is your best bet.
For instance, all our wedding dessert plates were mismatched China tea saucers I’ve collected over the years. In all, I probably spent $50 for more than 40 eclectic, vintage pieces. Eventually, I’d like to have them appraised.
I also thrifted a few music sheet booklets for about $4 total and transformed them into flower petal cones for our wedding day sendoff.
I’ve scored wooden benches, hope chests, and leather stools, planters, baskets for storage and folded blankets, candlesticks still in the box, seasonal décor and signs, tablecloths, journals and devotionals, full board game sets, and so much more!
Sidenote: one time my brother actually found a complete projector screen for movie nights and group video game mashups for only $10.
A Shout-Out to My Fellow Thrift Shop Friend
My friend, Hannah, and I share our thrift store scores with each other quite often. Admittedly, she thrift shops more often than I do, which is why she created an Insta devoted to thrift shopping: @palm_fleurvintage.
I don’t know anyone who does justice to the color orange like this girl. She’s got something in every warm shade imaginable, and her home flourishes with the thriftiest touches.
From straw hats to travel themed wall art to colorful book spines to ceramic pottery in natural hues, Hannah’s thrift store treasures blend into both vintage and bohemian vibes.
Give her a follow for home inspiration. Let her know if you’re looking for something particular and she will be more than happy to keep a lookout for you on her next thrift store adventure!
Final Thoughts on Thrift Shopping
Like anything, there are a couple downsides to shopping at thrift stores.
During sale days, thrift stores can be overcrowded and well-picked over if you can’t get there early in the day. This is similar to Black Friday – when they’re out of something, they’re really out!
Second, due to the sheer volume of donations, large thrift stores do not have the manpower or time to wash items before they are placed on the sales floor.
While they do ask those who donate to wash items before dropping them off, there’s obviously no guarantee.
Newsflash: you should wash always wash or sanitize ANY items purchased, either brand new from a retail store or from thrift stores.
Why? Well, contrary to common believe, creatures like bed bugs aren’t attracted to used items (Google knows, if you don’t believe me). Besides, even “new” clothing items have either been touched by hands in a factory or tried on by who-knows-who in a dressing room.
I always carry hand sanitizer with me and avoid touching my face while shopping. Note, I did this before COVID.
Simply apply common sense when thrift shopping and you’ll be just fine!
In the very least, I hope you at least consider donating gently used clothes and household items to your local shelter or thrift store to recycle them.
Overall, the lure to save cash, reuse and repurpose textile goods, and find the most unique things will always be too strong for me to deny!