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Thrift Store Shopping Tips

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


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9 found this helpful
February 7, 2008

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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December 21, 20090 found this helpful
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I have found that Goodwill & Salvation Army are entirely different even in the same city. Local managers have a lot of room to make changes and they usually do as they please as long as money is coming in. Gainesville, FL has a "new" Goodwill that looks like a dump all the time. Their Salvation Army is a true dump. Prices are still not cheap.

Ocala, FL has a beautiful Salvation Army that sells great items but prices have recently gone up also. Goodwill here is known as the "Goodwill Boutique" because of the high prices. Another Goodwill sells everything by the pound so sometimes you can find a good buy but it takes a lot of time sorting through as lots of stuff is just thrown in "tubs".

Bargains are usually found at church or true charitable thrift stores and some yard sales. It is also very difficult to find truly disabled workers at the Goodwill stores.

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20 found this helpful
March 26, 2010

Look 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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June 17, 20130 found this helpful

I have purchased two dinner plates at two different thrift stores. Found out they were Limoges, each worth a great deal more than the $.25 I paid for each!

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11 found this helpful
October 27, 2011

I learned that the Goodwill is 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.


April 11, 20170 found this helpful

A girl at a thrift store.

Thrift store shopping can be a fun and very successful way to shop for clothing and many other items. This is a guide about 7 tips for making thrift shopping a breeze.


15 found this helpful
November 1, 2011

I have found treasures behind or under the glass at our local thrift stores. That is where they keep the items like bags, jeans, leather jackets, etc. Usually these items are priced way too high in my opinion because of the name, not the condition they are in.


September 9, 20096 found this helpful

If anyone needs a reminder, though, please remember some thrift stores are done really well: having nice clothing and blankets, as well as


13 found this helpful
July 9, 2010

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. The brands will probably be better made, so that the item will wear better too.


December 27, 2016

Shop Thrift Stores in January

Shop in January for fantastic deals. People unload new, unwanted Christmas gifts, and older models of items they have upgraded. Also, people take advantage of the charitable contribution tax donation by donating by December 31.


6 found this helpful
August 12, 2010

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.


August 10, 2010

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 for about $5.00!


July 27, 20161 found this helpful

Finding Silver Jewelry at Thrift Shops

This is a guide about finding silver jewelry at thrift shops. There are definitely bargains to be found at your local thrift store. If you know how to look, you may come upon a lovely piece of silver jewelry hiding under that tarnish.


2 found this helpful
February 8, 2013

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.


May 3, 20061 found this helpful

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 but I did wear a lot of boys PJs inherited from my older brother and cousins.


March 1, 20050 found this helpful

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


September 7, 20050 found this helpful

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.


November 5, 2007

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.


October 2, 2006

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.


March 28, 2006

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...


November 17, 20040 found this helpful

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.


August 7, 2007

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!


July 20, 2007

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.


November 4, 20040 found this helpful

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


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

1 found this helpful
January 15, 2010

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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February 17, 20130 found this helpful

Can also try Mr Clean magic erasers.

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August 16, 20050 found this helpful

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

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September 7, 20080 found this helpful

I love to shop at thrift stores. However, if you have never shopped at these types of stores, here are some helpful hints:

-Be prepared to rummage;

-Usually clothes are color coded, so if you are in the market for a particular color blouse; you can browse through those colors;

-Do not be disappointed if you do not find anything that you like, there is always next time;

-Check the garment for stains, rips, zippers that do not work, etc. Most things are perfectly fine; however, it would be wise to check them.


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0 found this helpful
November 25, 2008

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

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July 31, 20090 found this helpful

If the clothes are in good, clean condition & the shop itself is not raunchy, there should not be a problem. But you should dry clean suit pants. A friend did have trouble once with that. But spray disinfectant will help with that & for shoes. Remember that clothes in stores are also subject to being handled and tried on. Most germs we worry about are air-borne or have to do with personal surfaces, like a drinking glass or water bottles. & YES, the handles of the public bathroom are rife with germs. Wash your hands! And use sanitizer when in environments when you are in close contact with people's hands, or things that are touched - like keyboards & mouses & phones. They also should be cleaned if used by multiple people! I love vintage & don't have a problem with anything if it can be washed well.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 9, 20100 found this helpful

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. I was embarrassed to go in but I did. WELL, I was so surprised at the people shopping there; well off and well heeled. I decided to look around after I got his shirts. I was shocked! I found a LL. Bean denim skirt for $4.00 with the tag still on and never been worn.

I was, from that point on, a thrift store shopper. I have turned all my friends on to them. I have purchased designer clothes at a fraction of the cost. Most still have tags. Even if they don't, you can tell they have never or only been worn once. You have to haunt the stores but it is well worth it. On a recent trip I bought approx. $300.00 worth of clothes for $20.00.

Happy Shopping!

By Mary Ann from Weslaco, Texas


Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I have been going to thrift shops for years after a friend told me about them. She always is dressed nice. I don't go to regular stores anymore. Like you said, I can get designer clothes for a fraction of the price. I live in Ohio and on Sundays at Goodwill if you're over 50 you get 50% off., so I'm paying $2.50 for an article of designer apparel. Last week I got my husband a Nautica golf shirt for 2.50. He used to make fun of me for going there until I started bringing him home practically new clothes for almost nothing. My teenage son will not wear anything from there though (06/18/2009)

By saylorgirl

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I am getting addicted to thrift stores too. Like you, I often find brand new things with the tags attached. You can't beat the prices, except at yard sales and I have never found any clothes at a yard sale that suited me. (06/18/2009)

By mulberry204

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

Last week I bought a Ralph Lauren Polo tshirt for $1 - and actually most of my clothes have designer or at least well-known brand labels - I love Chico's, but can't afford it - but as my husband says, I don't have to afford it, because I keep on finding their jackets in thrift shops! (and the last one at a yard sale as part of a $10 bag!)And my jewelry - mostly 2nd hand - is of a better quality than that sold there at Chico's! (06/18/2009)

By pamphyila

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I congratulate all of you on your bargains but, at the same time, I get a bit upset as I am on a pension and the thrift shop is the only place where I can actually buy clothes anyway. If all those people who can afford to buy elsewhere buy at the thrift shop then there is nothing decent left for those of us who need it more. (06/18/2009)

By Sharylesley

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

Also, be aware of consignment shops. You do have to search to find the ones that don't charge high prices, but some charge hardly more than thrift shops and the quality is usually really good. As with the price, it depends on the shop. (06/18/2009)

By tennesue

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I enjoy thrifting. I am a college student who has to buy most of her own things. I hunt for vintage clothes and give them a modern twist. It's well worth it. (10/08/2009)

By Geniveve

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

It seems a bit counter productive to save money at a thrift store and waste it on cigarettes. The money spent on cigarettes would buy him a shirt a month or more. That would upset me, I'm just sayin'. (06/04/2010)

By Ann

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I am a working professional who has to dress nice and I buy most of my work clothes through thrift stores. I can't stand the thoughts of paying $30-35 for a pair of dress pants that may get ruined at work within a week.

If I find something in a retail store I like or that I need quick, I will buy it. At most thrift stores, if something has a stain or some kind of damage, they may discount it if you show them. Then take it home and use your favorite stain cleaner on it. You'd be surprised what I've done with thrift store clothes. I've also bought a nice dress and replaced the buttons on it for a new look, this same dress had pinhole type damage to the sleeve, which I gathered and now, you can't tell.

Watch for the sales at VOA stores, ours is half off the last Wed. of the month. You can actually afford to buy "new" clothes and if they wear out or you get tired of them, you can re-donate them and you're not out hundreds of dollars. Last time I went on a major find, I took a vac. day from work and my friend and I bought the whole back end of her SUV full of clothes and I only had $100 in mine. I still wear them today, in fact, I have on thrift store pants. No one knows my clothes mostly come from thrift stores, either, unless I tell them. I tend to stick to name brands and classic styles. Probably over 50% of my work wardrobe is thrift store bought and I'm the only one that knows that. (06/04/2010)

By karen_annette

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I am hooked on thrift stores. I buy mostly things for the house and my place is gorgeous. It looks as though I've traveled the world and brought back many treasures. My kitchen is Mexican inspired, my dining room Indonesian, living room Indian (east) and my bedroom Asian. Everybody who visits, loves it. I'm a graphic designer and ready to approach the store's owners and talk about a marketing campaign. I could take pictures of my condo and show what you can do with little money.

I live in an area full of immigrants and lucky for me they donate treasures from their countries because they prefer American design now. I also have beautiful and useful things for my kitchen from the stores such as platters, salad spinners, colanders, glasses, plates, etc. I feel good about the recycling end of it and live in beautiful surroundings for peanuts. The only problem is that once these types of stores get popular they seem to up their prices. But still well worth the weekly trips I make. Mon. and Thurs. is 25% off and holidays 50% off. And when I'm ready for a change I return some of what I've displayed the past year, and start all over again. I love it! (06/04/2010)

By dusty6788

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I am sorry but I feel that the thrifty stores are for people who can't afford to buy brand new clothes. People who don't make much money. If you can afford to go to the mall or walmart, then when you go to the thrifty store you are taking items from the people who really need the store. (06/04/2010)

By Teresa

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

I also love thrift stores. I was embarrassed the first time I ever went in one about 7 years ago. But one day I was donating some items of my own and I said to myself that if I am donating Jones of New York, Lord and Taylor and other such name brands, other people must be doing the same. So I went into one and was shocked at how many people were shopping in there. I have been hooked ever since. There is plenty for everyone for those of you who are worried that the "poor" will not have enough. That is why the thrift stores have sales and discounts-because they have too much on hand and need to get rid of it. I have gotten some lovely things for my home and for my closet and most of my neighbors are now hooked also. (06/04/2010)

By florida gal

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

Save those things for the poor. How can you define poor? I wonder about some of the criticism here. The ones saying save it for the poor. I wonder if they have their financial house in order and why they subscribe to "Thrifty Fun" in the first place. I could well afford to pay retail but it's not good money management.

Don't judge anyone for shopping thrift stores and staying out of debt. Too many willing to pay full price; going into debt and not even giving a second thought to their future; just living one day at a time. Furthermore, if one is that poor he/she need not shop at the thrift store at all. Go to your local freecycle. Meanwhile don't criticize my good common sense and money management. (06/04/2010)

By TXBetty

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

There is enough at the thrift stores for all of us (rich, poor or in between) and there always will be! This is a throw away society. If one is afraid that the rich will "snatch" it all up, rest assured tomorrow you'll find what you need. (06/04/2010)

By TXBetty

Designer Names at Thrift Shops

You just have to make sure you try things on, as many have limited return policies. But, you can't beat the prices! (06/04/2010)

By Allison5

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September 9, 20090 found this helpful

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


June 17, 20090 found this helpful

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.


February 7, 20070 found this helpful

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!

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