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Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Thrift Store Clothes

Many shoppers find exceptional bargains at their local thrift stores. This is a guide about thrift store shopping tips.


Solutions: Thrift Store Shopping Tips

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Tip: Thrift Shops Before Retail

Thrift Shops Before RetailWhy the coat? I recently purchased this coat for 69 cents at a thrift shop. No, I'm not kidding you! For years now, I have ALWAYS looked in the local thrift shops BEFORE simply paying retail at a chain store.

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Tip: Look For the "Silver" Lining at Thrift Stores

Look For the "Silver" Lining at Thrift StoresLook for the "silver" lining in that dark cloud. As a thrift store junkie, I don't know which I like more, searching out treasures or finding them at a rock bottom price.

Here is a photo of my latest surprise find. I purchased these four chalices at a Salvation Army Thrift Store last week. They were grimy with grease and dust, not to mention tarnish. They were so black that I could not tell whether they were brass or silver. But each one was very heavy! Marked at 50 cents each, I took the plunge and bought them.

I could hardly wait to get home and begin working on them. Much to my surprise and utter delight, I found silver underneath all the grime and tarnish. I took the photo of the first chalice that I polished to show what was found in comparison to what I had purchased.

I absolutely love silver and using it when I entertain. When you go to a thrift store, look for that "silver" lining in that dark cloud like I did. Believe me, it took an abundance of elbow grease to polish these, but the end result is well worth it!

Source: Me - looking for that diamond in the rough!

By Southeastgeorgiapeach from Jesup, GA

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Tip: Find Treasures At Thrift Stores

I have found treasures behind or under the glass at our local thrift stores. That is where they keep the items (sometimes with those names you may love but never would pay for) like bags, jeans, leather jackets, etc. I have found zippers can be a problem, usually these items are priced way too high in my opinion because of the name, not the condition they are in.

If you find a great deal, look inside really well to examine the lining, look outside for any stains that have been ruined by someone trying to remove something, leaving the item not worth paying for just a name. That's where you get to point it out and bargain.

If they are willing (not all are) to lower the price, knowing how to bring the item back to its almost new condition for pennies of what it cost, for me is exciting. I don't resell items but many do. So be careful these are some of what is on eBay. Always ask, if you are one who buys used leather, expensive jeans, hand bags, etc. online, if it has been restored.

My friend had been looking for a Levi jacket for so long, but was unable (or unwilling) to pay store cost. On one of our trips, there was a perfect condition jean jacket in her size for $12.00. This isn't what I usually look for or does she, but once in awhile, we all have that special something we are hoping for.

Leather jackets, if they haven't been worn in awhile, have a couple things to look for; make sure the zipper slides easily, it isn't off track anywhere, and look at the leather. Check the lining - I have found it has been taken out; which means sometimes it had been worn hard, or could be there just was a rip or stain so it has been removed. If you sew, this may be an easy fix, if inexpensive, to get done. I have only redone the "vest" part of a leather jacket which was easy, not expensive for that style of jacket, and worked fine. Look at the cuffs - if it hasn't been taken care of, that is one place you can really see tatter. If the jacket has room to shorten the sleeves, is quality may still be worth the investment. Elbows on the sleeves and the collar is where I also look for the hidden wear, not just a stain popping out or a tear that is in plain sight. I take very good care of my leather, therefore I have a motorcycle jacket still in style that is a couple decades old. Where I live, I have found usually not the case, some donate great quality leather jackets with names I could never think about buying so its worth looking. Sometimes anyone can get lucky.

For hand bags, it's the same thing really. Look at them. Just because they are under lock and key doesn't always mean it's a treasure. It is always the name, that's why they keep them locked up. If it's in good condition on the bottom of the bag and the lining is intact, check out the straps to see if they look worn (I don't mean not new, but really used). Make sure you look where your hand bag get worn out the most. I have found it's usually the same 2 or 3 places.

Always check zippers on both leather jackets, skirts, jeans, and handbags. Make sure they are in working order, on track or if it's something easy like just sticking you know what you are dealing with so you can maybe get a deal, or at the very least, not over pay if they over-looked something. If you don't know how to fix or replace a zipper yourself, my alteration place has good prices, however sometime if you have to replace a zipper, it may well not be worth your find. If it's just sticking or jammed you usually can tell right away. Always make sure it's on track (the bottom isn't ruined). Zippers being stuck easily can be fixed with DW40; it works for me every time. That is what I would recommend, if its only a zipper that is sticking and it's something you want and worth the money.

If the leather itself has a spot on it, it could save you money by pointing it out and be something you can fix. I have a great pair of boots that I tripped in the first time I wore them and tore the leather, making the toes look black, not the brown boots I had bought. Any craft store sells paint that is water proof, used for leather. Even if its an "off" color like mine was, I mixed 2 of the paints together and to this day only my son and I know it ever happened. So if there is a place on a bag, jacket, or pair of boots some of it can be redone for around $5.00 making it well worth it. When I say redone I don't mean the entire bag or jacket, I mean worn spots on the elbows, or spots of wear on a bag can be easily matched with this paint and made to look new again.

For example my own bag, which I love, is a mustard color. Where I keep my hand sanitizer there is a worn spot, but the rest of the bag is still in perfect shape - matching that and fixing it myself is what I will do, not get rid of my Tignanello. I promise it was a gift I will have for years to come.

Leather can be cleaned up and reconditioned in a few ways without costing you a bunch of money; talcum powder removes grease from leather, so just because there is a spot of oil or grease may not mean it's not worth seeing if they will give you a deal, or if it is a great deal may be worth a second look. Remember you can buy leather cleaners, water proof products, or if like me, use olive oil for cleaning and keeping my leather in soft, subtle shape costing hardly nothing. I have heard coconut oil works well. It comes in a jar and is very hard making it easy to put on a cloth and rub into the material. Also remember if it's brown, black, rust, or a color easily matched and has a small spot or maybe creases from prior use, shoe polish will soak into the spot, making it appear the same color. When using shoe polish on anything other than shoes, make sure you polish a couple of times, using a small amount each time and always getting any left over polish off. If you don't, it will come of on something you don't want it to; like your shirt, coat, etc. The liquid shoe stains do not do this. If using one of them make sure you have matched up the leather before applying. These things can also make an item you have look new again.

Jeans, another thing found behind the counter or in the glass case, are always based on name brand. $25.00 for a pair of brand name jeans may be something many are interested in, but look out for knock offs. The people working at Salvation Army or Goodwill especially, will not know how to recognize fakes. The small independent thrift stores or consignment stores know more of what they have, and its worth. I know polo type shirts that have a little symbol on the right side, aren't always a real polo (Ralph Lauren), or another brand, but they have copied the "tag" or taken it from another item. If you don't look close, you wouldn't catch it until too late. Not everyone cares about labels, but if you are paying for it, you should get what you pay for - new or used.

They keep sun glasses and jewelry there locked away also, these are so easy for people who steal to take. It doesn't always mean they are anything expensive to begin with. I have found the neatest jewelry behind the glass in bundles sometimes and on a half price day. Keep in mind these things are already marked down like everything else in the store.

Cameras, CD players, and watches are just a few of the other things that seem to be out of reach. If you ask they will gladly open the case. Make sure it's working (if it needs electricity or battery) - it's usually a good idea to carry some batteries with you if you are looking for any items that take them. That way you know its in good working order. I got a beautiful, expensive watch for $10.00 from my church thrift store and they said if you take it and get a battery, if it doesn't work, bring it back. Not everywhere would do that, so ask to be sure. For the cost of a watch battery, I have a watch I could never afford, wouldn't even have thought I could own one.

Sometimes these locked away treasures are worth asking, maybe bargaining, putting in a little time. Other times it's better to know when it's not a treasure at all; just locked away. Items found behind the glass can make the best gifts. Although they may not be your usual purchases, don't be afraid to look. I wrote in one of my posts where I had gotten a blow dryer that was worth well over $100.00, but I knew what I was looking at. Like I said, "some people make a living doing this" - most of us do not, so knowing a little bit about what you may be bargaining down could pay off. I always look at what is in style, what is in the magazines, and when I see name brands it helps knowing a little bit about what you may be "hoping" to find. Always try to look on the days they have 50% off or any other special your local thrift store has.

Finding a bargain is so much fun. Once in a while, it is like finding hidden treasure! I keep up on magazines and look at what the price "new" is to see if it is really a deal when buying anything that isn't obviously my usual thrift purchases. Good luck with your treasure hunting!

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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Tip: Senior Discount Day at the Goodwill

I desperately needed some new sweat pants but can't afford them new so I stopped at my local Goodwill Store after a doctor's appointment this morning and scoped out the racks. I ended up finding three really, really nice 'almost new' pairs in the colors I was hoping for and all three only came to $8.99 total!

I was so happy and even happier when the woman at the counter asked about my age and guess what? Because I am 56 I received a senior citizen discount of 20% which reduced the price to $7.19 total. That's only about $2.40 per pair.

Lucky me to have stopped there on a Monday because that happens to be my local Goodwill Store Senior Discount Day. So, if you're a senior citizen and don't mind shopping Goodwill, it's well worth calling your local Goodwill to see if they have Senior Discount Day(s). :-)

By Deeli from Richland, WA

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Tip: Shop Thrift Stores For Craft Supplies

Angel made from thrift store purchasesSave on craft supplies by shopping at thrift stores. If you like to craft or have just a single project to make, you can't go wrong by checking out some thrift stores before purchasing new supplies. Over the years, I have found ways to keep my "stash" at a reasonable level, and if you are only making a single project, a large supply of an item is not needed. Here are just a few suggestions on how to save some money on craft supplies.

When needing stuffing, even the smallest bag is quite large. Shop in the pillow section, and you can often find one that was made with stuffing and not a solid pillow form. Also, check out the toys. A stuffed animal can provide you with the amount of stuffing you need and will cost just a fraction of the price of a full bag.

Look through the clothing sections for material needed. Many have daily sales on clothing, and just one blouse can provide much material. Shop through the sheets and blankets for material needed on a larger project. With the variety they have, you will, no doubt, find the texture you are needing. Also, things like tablecloths can be great material for some projects.

I have found trims in just about every thrift store I have visited. They are usually put in baggies and contain a variety. You can find ribbon, lace, buttons, thread, and just about everything imaginable.

Shop the infant department for doll clothing. Even some stuffed animals come with clothing that you can remove and use.

Shop through the magazines and books for papers you need for decoupage or scrapbooking projects. Some even will have sheet music and maps which make great papers for projects.

Are you making a clock or need clock parts for a scrapbook project? Carry a couple AA's and AAA's batteries with you. Once you find a clock, insert them to make sure it works. Clock parts are very expensive to buy, and you can purchase an entire clock for a very minimal cost and have all the parts needed.

Look through the jewelry for pieces you can use as accessories for a project. Many necklaces can be taken apart and the beads and trinkets used individually.

Most thrift stores carry a great variety for "special occasion" needs. Halloween costumes are expensive and many carry a wonderful amount once the season rolls around. You can also find prom dresses, of which many are donated after only being used one time. They are in great shape and even at the cost of a dry cleaning, you will save a lot of money. You can often find party goods still in their original package which many people donate because "they bought too many". Their over spending can be your savings.

I made this garden angel for a friend from thrift store "finds". The body material is from a blouse. I found the garden sign and the wired wing form there and covered it by tying on strips of plastic bags. Her hair was taken off a stuffed animal. Her skirt was made from a child's skirt that I cut apart. She has several bells tied to her, which I also found there. I stuffed her with pieces of plastic bags. In total, I spent $2.50 for everything I needed to make her and still had leftovers. It would have cost me more to buy just one bag of stuffing.

All in all, thrift stores are a treasure cove and a great way to save money. It is truly amazing what one can find in them and since many of these stores contribute to a cause, you will be helping others by shopping there.

By Mary from Palm Coast, FL

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Tip: Shop Other Thrift Stores Before Goodwill

I was just reading the comments on the "Saving Money On Jeans" post, and I agree with the poster who said that Goodwill is getting "expensive"! There was a bigger, nicer Goodwill building built here in my city a few years ago, but on recent trips there, I've noticed that the prices are rather high (at least for a thrift store, in my opinion). My best friend used to work for them, and said that they often get brand new merchandise donated to them from Target and other stores. However, there are at least two other different thrift stores here in my city, and I know that at least one of them also gets donations from Target, and they have much lower prices.

Once I bought a Target item from Goodwill, only to find it about $1.25 cheaper at Salvation Army! So my tip is to check out all the thrift stores in your area and compare prices. You might find some of the same items there, and get them cheaper than you would at Goodwill. I do still shop at Goodwill, but after I've looked at the other thrift stores first!

By Lisa from Kenosha, WI

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Article: My Frugal Life: Shop Smart

Communicating with Goodwill offices, I learned they are changing their marketing strategies due to the availability of new goods coming off shelves of failing/going out-of-business/bankrupt stores. I have found a plethora of NEW in-the-box with-the-manual items at tremendously low prices.

I find NEW items: A Bodum cordless teakettle ($79) for $6, a pair of Stuart Weismann pumps ($400) for $3.99, a pair of Hush Puppies ($90) for $2.99, a Nordstrom leather vest ($189) for $2.99, a small (this was used) china cabinet ($2500) for $100, a kichen butcher block/island ($259) for $49, a vintage beveled mirror ($800) for $15.

The mirror was too large, a leaner, and I sent it to a consignment shop who sold it for $300.

I find Ralph Lauren, Liz Clayborne, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, JC Penny, Target, Jones of NY, many, many famous top-of-the-line retailers at Goodwill. Just shop carefully.

Goodwill needs cash. YOU need their stuff. Help them by recycling so they can continue their mission of helping the less fortunate and saving yourself money. If I tire of an item, I donate it back to Goodwill. After all, I did not pay the true value and price for the item and some good comes of it once again when they resell it.

RECYCLE, FOLKS! It is a good thing for planet Earth and you.

By Avis from Boulder, CO

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Tip: Shop Thrift Stores for Off Season Clothes

Flanel pajamas, rain coat, two pairs pants with matching shirts, another shirt, and a pair of shoes in toddler sizes as well as a pair of adult sneakers and a butterfly decoration.We all know shopping at thrift stores is a great way to save money on things, but I have found that I save even more if I go in late in a season to look for clothes for the next season. I found my son's fall raincoat in the end of summer for under $2, and I noticed that in the middle of fall when it was rainy and chilly, coats that were very similar were priced at about $4-$5. Not a gigantic savings by itself, but save $2-$3 on just 8 items a year and you have $24 in your pocket.

I got all the items in the picture in late summer and it only cost me about $10 for all of them. I combined shopping in summer for fall stuff and a 50% off coupon for the thrift store. I still would have only paid $20 for all of those items, when at the mall, I would have probably only been able to buy one, maybe two of them for that price.

By Shannon from Lakewood, OH

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Tip: Join Goodwill and Get Coupons

Every year Goodwill has a membership drive -I think it's in April. They sell memberships for $5. You will get 1/2 off anything you buy that day ,and they mail you 12 coupons good for each month of the year for $5 off any $10 or more purchase. I don't like crowds, so I seldom go to the 1/2 off sales, but this pays off in a big way for me. They had clothes on sale one day: buy 10 items get the 11th free and I used my coupon. I got eleven sweaters and pants for $5! Can't beat that.

By yoder178

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Tip: Shop Thrift Stores for Great Deals

Since this is a thrift site, most people will know about thrift stores. If anyone needs a reminder, though, please remember some thrift stores are done really well: having nice clothing and blankets, as well as some appliances and dish/cookware for some cents to a few dollars. They also are a great place to find craft/gift supplies.

By Davidicdancer from Spokane, WA

Editor's Note: What are some of the items that you have purchased at a thrift store. Any great finds?

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Tip: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

Get to know brands for the best thrift shop bargains! A $7 purse is nice, but a $7 Anne Klein purse is an even better value (as the original cost would be much higher, perhaps as much as $50). The brands will probably be better made, so that the item will wear better too. I just snagged a pair of Sperry Topsiders at a Goodwill for $1.99 (retail $60!)

Many purses and shoes are almost new and leather, whereas cheaper brands will be some sort of plastic. There is even the possibility of selling off those designer items again when you are tired of them and getting a decent price. My buddy says that designer things just FLY away on eBay. I read on Yahoo that shoes are one thing you should never buy used - tell that to everyone on Etsy buying classic vintage shoes!

By pamphyila from L.A., CA

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Tip: Buy Electronics and Computer Gear at Thrift Stores

Think you can only get clothes and household items at thrift shops? There is often a lot of electronic and computer gear there, too. When our computer keyboard fritzed out last week, my hubby went out to the thrift shop and bought a new keyboard (still in packaging) for about $5.00! You can often put together computer systems for very little money by buying the components at thrift stores. My husband has done that for some of his students over the years.

By pamphyila from L.A., CA

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Tip: Monthly Coupons at Goodwill

I frequently shop at Goodwill for clothing, household items, etc. I found that for only $5, I can get a mailing of monthly coupons for $5 off if you spend $10. These coupons are good also during sales when other coupons are not. I have bought 11 tops and pants (the sale was buy ten items, get the 11th one free; $1 each); which brought my total to $5 with the coupon.

This is a really good deal and I thought I would share this since I don't know too many people who have known this.

    By susan [33]

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    Article: A Thrift Store Christmas

    A Thrift Store ChristmasIn these hard times, shopping at the thrift stores may be that the only way some of us will be able to afford a Christmas for our families. So here are some ideas of what can be done with thrift store bargains to turn them from "Trash" to "Treasure". My biggest tip is shop early and often. Try to find out when your thrift store restocks and try to buy when things are on sale. Of course, if you find something you really love, try and remember you will be buying for less than retail.


    Electronics: We all like buying the toys in the stores that make noises and have flashing lights. A lot of these can be bought at the thrift store but you are always taking a chance that they don't work so here are a couple of tips to make sure that you don't get one that won't. Always carry a small screwdriver with you to check the battery compartment, You are looking to see if there is a lot of corrosion in there or if there are old batteries in that are dead or leaking. If it looks clean inside, chances are it will probably work with some batteries. If there are old batteries inside that are dead, chances are it will work, just remember to get the batteries out as soon as you get it home. If it has just a little bit of corrosion from batteries, this can be cleaned off with a little baking soda water or a small wire brush. If you decide you don't want the toy, please put the battery cover back on. Thrift stores are pretty lenient on letting you do this but not if you don't put the covers back on. Carry 3 to 4 C and D batteries with you, then you can "test drive" the toy. This tip can be used on any electronic toy or appliance in the store.

    Plastic Animals: These toys, especially the big plastic horses can be restored to next to new condition with a little spray paint made for plastic. The big plastic horses could also be made into a carousel horse by adding ribbons and ribbons roses to decorate it with. Drill a hole through the back and you can even add a dowel for the pole. The plastic paint is guaranteed to not chip or peel.

    Board Games: Some thrift stores tape their games shut so people don't open them and take pieces out. My tip for buying used board games is if you can, buy two of the same game so if you are missing pieces from one, you can make up for them with the second. Also a old chess set is something that you might want to buy as the pawns can be used for the "marker pieces" in every game, including Monopoly. Some of the game companies have sites on the internet where you can buy missing pieces also.

    Books: These are a great bargain for adults and kids alike. Some people write their names in the books or if it was a gift, Aunt Mary might have put in a dedication. This can be covered with a large mailing label and then you can identify the book as your child's or put in a dedication to your Aunt Mary. If they wrote all over the inside front cover, it can be covered with one of the many beautiful scrapbooking papers that the craft stores have. Just cut the paper down to the size needed and spray mount it in to the book.

    Stuffed animals that look new can be jazzed up with a new ribbon or go to the children's department and try to find a little dress to dress them up with. A plain bear decorated with a small crocheted scarf in your daughter's high school colors and the felt numbers stuck to the bear's belly for the year she graduates might just tickle her fancy. A Christmas bear can be decorated with old Christmas ornaments that have be taken apart.

    Dolls: What would Christmas for a little girl be without a doll? Believe it or not, you can restore Barbie or a baby doll's hair but that will have to wait until my next article, where I will be giving complete directions for restoring dolls back to a playable condition.

    Bicycles: Bikes that are in fair condition can be fixed up with a new chain and some new tires. Buffing compound can sometimes bring back the paint job on a bike but not always. You can always spray paint it if not.


    A lot of designer stuff shows up in thrift stores so it pays to know your designers. Carry in your purse a list of everyone's clothing sizes so when your shopping you will know what will fit and what won't. Also remember that unless you find something that is in new shape, that these clothes have been washed before and will not shrink. Check the clothing over very well. If it is missing a fancy button, you might not want to buy it because finding a replacement will be impossible. If you don't mind changing out the buttons for something new, buy it especially if it is a expensive sweater that you know someone will love.

    Jeans can be decorated in so many different ways, You can add lace to the pockets, you can add fringe to the bottoms, applique lace doilies to them or trim with the new beaded trim that comes attached on a ribbon. Always check the zippers. Same things goes with women's shirts, you can always decorate them. Check out the great selection of handbags also these make great gifts for teens.

    Creative Packaging

    This is a great place to look for baskets and tins. It is also the place to look for things that you can fill with candy or anything else. Mugs can be filled with candy or hot chocolate packages or for kids with crayons or markers or colored pencils. I love to buy Christmas plates that used to be in a set but now there are only a couple or three left. They make great trays for Christmas goodies. I also look for glass trays or silver plated ones if they are not too damaged, to use for Christmas goodies too. Fill a beautiful crystal wineglass with chocolate kisses or pair a couple of wine glasses together with a good but cheap bottle of wine or sparkling cider. This is a great gift for people without kids. Thrift stores also sell Christmas stockings that you can redecorate or, if in good shape, leave as is and fill with small gifts for co workers and friends.

    Basket Fillers

    This is the place to find all the things you could use to fill baskets for your friends and family. Two champagne glasses and a bottle of wine and some crackers and summer sausage put into a basket with a little bit of shreds or Easter grass can be a great gift for newlyweds. Cookies cutters and a couple of character cake pans for the baker in the family. On ThriftyFun, there are a lot of basket ideas. Take a look and you will find many ideas that you can use by just buying the "ingredients" at the thrift store.


    Christmas trees and wreaths can be bought at the thrift store and can be redone to suit our style. You are going to pay a lot less for them than you would at Walmart.

    Happy Hunting!

    By Debra Frick

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    Tip: Thrift Stores For Christmas Decorations

    For years, I envied pricey holiday decorations from specialty stores but they weren't in my budget. But in the last few years, I have discovered that Thrift shops are a great source of really nice and classy holiday stuff. Last weekend, I got a metal Santa, a Mexican tin Christmas tree (I have always admired that Mexican tinware, but it's expensive) and a great candle holder. And it was on sale at the thrift shop! This is stuff we will have for years to come. And who will have any idea where it came from?

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    Article: My Frugal Life: Thrift Store Shopping

    I grew up in a family of 4 children, a stay-at-home mom, and a father who didn't make a lot of money. We had everything we needed (thanks to the constant sacrifices of my dear mother) but I did wear a lot of boys PJs inherited from my older brother and cousins. As an adult, I now shop in thrift stores and, if I can't find what I need, I may resort to the discount stores like Marshalls, TJ MAXX and Ross.

    Thrift store shopping is like "big-game hunting" for me with the "thrill" is finding the best quality clothes and household items for the fewest dollars. As a child, I used to say that when I grew up I would be rich and hire someone to break in my shoes for me. Thanks to the thrift stores, this hasn't been necessary, and no blisters!

    Claudia from MD

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    Tip: Check Thrift Stores For New Baby Clothes

    I found a wonderful way to help a mother-to-be when my daughter and I went to her baby shower. I was informed that new clothes are donated to thrift stores when they are bringing in new stock. I went with my daughter to see if I could find some new clothes. What a windfall! I got beautiful new clothing for very little money as did my daughter.

    By Bev from Chilliwack BC

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    Tip: Check For Mismarked Sizes At The Thrift Store

    Just got a beautiful pair of like new red silk Stuart Weitzman designer ballerina-style flat shoes at a thrift shop for $1.99. When I researched it on the internet, they were worth at least $250! They had no wear at all, and I wondered about that until I saw that they were marked 8 1/2 and they fit me who usually wears 7 1/2 to 8. So they were too small for whoever bought them.

    Just another reminder of watching the SIZES of things at resale/thrift shops. Often the marked size is inaccurate and that's why the item ends up there! (Mostly because they are too small for the marked size.)

    By Pamphyila from Los Angeles, CA

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    Tip: Thrift Stores Are Frugal And Charitable

    I realize that I do most of my shopping nowadays in various thrift shops. It's gotten to the point I get sticker shock when I go into a REAL store! But did you ever consider that there's an extra added benefit to thrift shopping? At the same time you are getting bargains, you are also contributing to the charity the shop is supporting! So your money is going twice as far.

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    Tip: Look For New Gift Items At Thrift Stores

    When I am in thrift shops, I always look for little gift items - there are so many occasions to give little gifts - besides birthdays, there are get well gifts and so on. Some thrift shops seem to have pipelines to leftovers from stores with gifty items - so I stock up whenever I see them. Just got some fancy notebooks and a little artificial potted plant - and of course, books!

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    Tip: Leather Bag from a Thrift Shop

    I got a nice black leather bag for $1 at a thrift shop. You can tell leather from vinyl by the smell. Leather wears so much better. It needed a bit of sprucing up - but a little black permanent marker where there was wear and voila! Great for everyday.

    By Pam from L.A., CA

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    Tip: Thrift Store Eveningwear

    It's only important if it shows. I just wore a heavily beaded dress to a gala. Now, I had gotten it from a local thrift shop. It was a steal; but I did have to trim off the extra threads and hanging beads. (I know know what they mean by dripping with beads. . .) But because of the pattern of the fabric and the beading, It didn't show and no one was the wiser. As far as anyone knew, it had always been that way. So check to see if you can somehow repair that thrift shop beaded finery. But, beware! Sometimes if it's finely beaded and lacking beads, it may not be worth the trouble.

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    Tip: High End Fashion Items

    Don't think of thrift shops for just utilitarian items. It's amazing, but you can often get higher-end consumer/fashion items, like fancy place mats and linens, decorative pillows, candleholders and fancy drink glasses, framed art and much more, all of the things I admire in gift shops, but find too expensive. So when I find them in a thrift shop, I snap them up. And when I use them, no one has to know where they came from, unless I want them to know.

    By Pam from L.A., CA

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    Tip: Consignment Shop Sack Sales

    Our local consignment shops have been doing stuff-a-sack (Walmart sack) for $3. I have been hitting them for the past 3 months and have gotten some great stuff.

    By Jen

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    Tip: Finding the Best Thrift Shops

    Go to the best town (most expensive real estate) and comb the thrift shops. Rich people throw things out too and sometimes new or near new. The quality may be better and you still pay thrift store prices.

    By JANET

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    Tip: Frequent Thrift Stores For Clothing

    Many times they have a super sale like a bag of clothes for $5. I've bought new hooded sweatshirts for my granddaughter with 6 fitting in a bag. Recently, they had women's clothing for $.50 each. The woman in front of me bought a nice suede and knitted ladies sweater for $.50. Many times they have new items, still in the box. These make nice gifts.

    By Betty G.

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    Tip: New Arrivals Thrift Store

    If you frequent thrift stores, ask when new shipments generally arrive and find out how long it typically takes for the store staff to get the merchandise out on the floor for sale. This info will allow you to avoid searching through the same items over again without waiting so long that the "good stuff" is picked over.

    By Leann D

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    Here are questions related to Thrift Store Shopping Tips.

    Question: Removing Black Price Marks from Goodwill Items

    I shop at Goodwill regularly. I have problems removing the price off of non-clothing items like dishes, etc. The price is written in black directly on the item. I have tried soap, bleach, etc. and nothing works. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

    By Vera from Little River, SC

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    Most Recent Answer

    By kakeemomaz 1 02/28/2013

    Try heading out to 99Cent Store and buy their degreasing cleaning fluid in the bright orange bottle and be sure to use microfiber cleaning cloths. If you try these, I'm sure your marks will be gone

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Thrift Store Shopping Tips

    Tips for getting the most out of thrift store shopping. Post your ideas.

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No


    Most Recent Answer

    By iomoon (Guest Post) 02/28/2009

    Shop in rich neighborhoods, where stylish people donate clothes. At one Goodwill I went to, almost everything was brand name. You could get an Ann Taylor suit for just 30 dollars.

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No

    Question: Can You Get Sick from Thrift Store Items

    With a lot of people using thrift stores, how "safe" are the donations? Can you "catch" anything from what you buy?

    Kathy from Coatesville, PA

    AnswerWas this interesting? Yes No

    Most Recent Answer

    By Donna Landrau 4 5 08/06/2009

    I have shopped thrift store for years. You can get some really good deals on gently used clothing. I wash everything new or used that I buy. The clothing comes from so many places around the world anymore that you never know where the product has been before it got to you. We never try on hats anymore because my daughter got lice years ago from trying on a hat at a thrift store. Luckily we caught it very quickly and it didn't spread. Household dishes and stuff we put things in the dishwasher as hot as possible with "heat dry" to sanitize before we use it. Do not try to save money by letting the item air dry in the dishwasher. It's the drying with high heat that sanitizes things. Wash it, sanitize it, dry clean it. Whatever you need to do before you use it. We do that with every store we buy something from, not just thrift stores, because, remember - things are from all over the world and you never know the germs they are fighting there that hitched a ride on the item you are buying!

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes No


    Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

    Archive: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    What's the great thing about shopping for your wardrobe at thrift shops? You can afford great fabrics, like linen and silk and designer names. And you can make mistakes! The prices allow you to try styles, colors, trends without the sticker guilt. And if you get a stain on your $3.00 shirt after a couple of wearings, it's no great loss!

    By Pam from L.A., CA


    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    Whenever I'm paying for my purchases at a thrift shop, I always tell the cashier that they should change the name of the store to "The Blessing Shop". It is a wonderful blessing for some of us who have less disposable income than others and can find beautiful things that others have grown tired of or in some cases never worn simply because they themselves can "afford" to.

    By Judy Two Dogs

    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    I shop at garage sales more than thrift stores. I buy a lot of my children's clothes that way and believe me, I feel much better when they come home with stains on their "next to nothing" priced clothes than something much more expensive. My kids always look real nice tho in their pre-worn outfits.

    By Debbie52

    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    I find that I shop for clothes more and more from thrift shops and Goodwill than regular retail stores. I can find great brands that wear so much better than the much cheaper brands that I can afford. I have got L.L. Bean, Alfred Dunner, etc., items that have been such a value. And great shoes too. I have even got compliments on my outfits that I have dug out of Goodwill bargain bins for .50 each piece. Sure, you have to wade through things you don't want but sometimes the effort is worth it and you can find some great items especially on off seasons.

    My greatest find at a thrift shop was a two piece outfit. Apparently the previous owner had bought two complete outfits of the same item but in two different sizes so that she could have the bigger size skirt and the smaller size jacket. She donated the pieces she didn't want. So I got the larger jacket and the smaller size skirt and had a wonderful brand new outfit with the tags still on it and fit me perfectly! The original prices on the tags were almost three hundred dollars, a price I would never be able to afford but I could afford the ten dollars I did pay for it. Buying my clothes this way has saved me a lot of money the past few years and no one can tell. It is my little secret. (Smile)

    By maggiemay

    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    Since I have a lot of sweating, I cannot wear silk or linen without it being tell-tale! So, I'm most grateful for all the great cotton and cotton-blend clothing from any source, in any design, in my size (the real criteria). I used to be able to wear/buy anything at all, in any fabric, and at any cost, never realizing how wasteful it was and how stuck I would be when Business Casual became so popular and practical.

    I began to accept, appreciate and wear anything decent and look just fine. I had gotten a taste of this over the previous 11 years. I volunteered to help hundreds in crises, "finding" money by getting down off my high horse and getting "real" about clothes, accessories, etc.

    Now, I don't have to ever shop, even in thrift/gently used stores, because what is tossed openly in large new boxes on the curbs of this over-indulged city is often my very size, color, and style, by His grace.

    God bless all those who learn this lesson before their lives come to "the other side of the hill". After all, it's what's on the inside that really counts. : )

    By lyndagayle62

    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    Love the thrift shops, Salvation Army and Goodwill. I usually go there at least twice a month and only buy what I can use. I also go to garage sales, flea markets, etc. in summer. Went to one this summer where they were giving things away. I got lots of things, Martha Stewart sheets, a bird house for indoor use a pair of black Birkenstock sandal shoes, I disinfected them and they look good as the ones bought last fall for many $'s and, this time, I paid nothing.

    By afrugallady

    Archive: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    It pays to keep up with designer names to a degree. I noticed a major label on a purse at a thrift shop, found out it was leather, and got it for $1.49. Looking it up on the net later I found that it's probably worth $100! (And it adds a fillip to my professional wardrobe.)

    By pamphyila from Los Angeles


    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    I've done this too at garage sales! What a bargain and no one will ever know! (02/08/2007)

    By mobo

    RE: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    Goodwill is my favorite store, lol. Most recent finds: Ann Taylor suit, new with tags at $179.00, I paid $3.99. Also Louis Vuitton Handbag, over $600 new, my price $2.99. How can you go wrong, lol.

    They also have an online auction,, have found some collectible ceramics and glassware. Just be careful, some items are way over priced.

    Have a great day! (02/08/2007)

    By msburny

    Archive: Shop Thrift Stores for Great Deals

    Shop the Goodwill and Salvation Army Shops. I recently bought a $200.00 coat for 6 bucks! Great savings for clothes, toys, books, purses.

    Archive: Designer Names at Thrift Shops

    About 12 years ago, I had to find a way to buy my husband's shirts. He was forever burning holes in them smoking. I decided to try a thrift store.