If you think that thrift stores are full of sketchy people, dirty clothes, and screaming kids, you’re wrong. Well, to be fair, you’re only partially wrong. There are indeed screaming kids on occasion, and one dude in particular that is like 8 feet tall and dresses like Keifer Sutherland in Young Guns and wears his sunglasses indoors. But other than that, it’s not scary, or icky. I promise.
I would never shop, let alone wear, icky, nor would I let my kids. I dig fashion. I like to dress nicely and I like my kids to look coordinated and presentable most of the time. As a matter of fact, my son was voted “Best Dressed” in his sixth grade class last year. And you know what? At least 50% of the clothes my kids own come from either the Goodwill or garage sales.
New, and almost new, clothes for a pittence of the original retail price. We’re talking brand names honey. Under Armour, Nike, Hollister, Abercrombie, Aeropostale, they’re all there. Many with the tags still on them.
Honestly, it makes me want to hop in the mini right now and head over there just thinking about it.
If the thought creeps you out I challenge you to give it the old college try. Take a few hours and explore your nearest store. While you are there I have a few tips for making your trip a success and hopefully changing your mind.
- Try to shop without kids: The Goodwill is a little overstimulating because there is just a stink load of stuff to see and it’s hard to take it all in. Add kids to this and it’s just a recipe for disaster.
- Shop every isle: This will help you get the lay of the land and help you discover the broad selection of items available.
- Bring a drink and a snack: Think you’ll only be in a 1/2 hour? Think again. I’ll bet you a dollar you will be there for at least 2 hours. There is just SO much to see.
- Check out the clothes thouroughly: Though Goodwill does have a 14 day return policy, you really need to check each item out. Zip the zippers, make sure the buttons are all there, look for stains and holes. This will save you the trip back if you wait to find them at home. And speaking of the return policy, you must return to the SAME store you purchased the item at and it’s exchange only, no cash or credit back.
- Scope out the “color of the week” deals: All Goodwill price tags are color coded and each week there are 1/2 price deals on a specific color. Make sure you shop with that in mind. Those $6.99 jeans you are on the fence about might just be $3.50.
- Buy your overpriced holiday items for peanuts: Halloween costumes, lights, Christmas cards, decor, ornaments, easter baskets and ”Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirts are plentiful. You need never pay retail for overpriced holiday items. Many are still boxed with the price tags on them.
- Shop with Mom or Grandma and save: Every Wednesday is “Seasoned Citizens” day. Those over 55 recieve an additional 10% off their purchase.
- Shop the boutique Goodwill for designer duds: Portland has a “boutique” store in the Hawthorne district that carries the upper scale designer brands such as Christian Louboutian, Coach, Fendi, etc., for knock off prices. If that’s your thing, check them out.
- Go on a regular basis: Items flow in and out daily. You may find nothing one week and a cart full the next.
- Don’t buy just because it’s a good deal: I was tempted recently to buy this AMAZING Banana Republic coat. This coat was a thing of beauty. Robin egg blue trench coat, wool, beautifully lined, two stylish buttons in the front. Absolutely stunning and just $14.99. Problem was, it was a medium, and I’m not! I seriously stood there for 10 minutes trying to justify buying it. Could I re-sell it on Ebay? Could I buy it for a friend? Could I frame it and put it on my wall? I seriously loved this coat but a deal isn’t a deal if you don’t need it. There is a fine line between useful and clutter.
- As those wise gals from En Vogue said, “Free your mind and the rest will follow”: Don’t be too narrow minded in what your shopping for. I was shopping recently for summer clothes for the kids but I did my usual loop around the household goods and scored a brand new, in the box, queen sized, $250 Aero bed for $14. My friend recently found the dust ruffle that matches her daughters comforter set. How random! It really is like treasure hunting. You just never know what you’ll find.
- Bring hand sanitizer: While the store is really pretty clean, I always feel the need to clean my hands when I leave. Probably a mental thing but I just have to!
My last piece of advice is to try everything on. The awesome size 10 vintage jeans you just found may not fit your modern size 10 hiney. Sizes ran smaller back in the day so be safe and try them on. Now get out there and get to shopping, just leave a few deals for me!