Ask the Readers: Do You Shop at Thrift Stores?

By Ashley Jacobs on 5 March 2013 163 comments
Photo: Orin Zebest

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Varun, Christie, and Elena for winning this week's contest!

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to spend less on the things you don't mind buying used, like clothes and home furnishings. And if you're lucky, you might even find some hidden gems — vintage records or out-of-print books, anyone? Then again, not all thrift stores are stocked equally, and for some people, the nearest thrift store might still be too far away for regular trips.

Do you shop at thrift stores? What do you usually shop for, and have you ever found something you didn't expect? If you don't shop at thrift stores, why not?

Tell us whether you shop at thrift stores and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Lynda

i do occasionally. by the way, have you heard the thriftshop song?! the. best. ever.

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Guest

What's the point of having an internationally available site, with articles from my side of the world, when you only seem to have comps available for US residents??? We buy stuff through Amazon too, you know! I come here everyday, and yet I'm prohibited from interacting? Gee thanks Wisebread....

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Ry

Yes. I absolutely shop the thrift stores scene.

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Brenda Faulkner

I shop at Goodwill, but have a really tough time finding good deals!

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Becky H

Absolutely shop at thrift stores, primarily Goodwill, usually for clothes and books, occasionally household. Some days you score a find, other days not, but the inventory is always changing.

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Guest

I enjoy finding great items at thrift stores! I've found designer jeans and shoes and great seasonal items, such as mulling spices for wine. Many items were brand new and never used/worn!

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steff

i shop at thrift stores!

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Sara

I do shop at thrift stores. Usually hit them up when I am close by and won't make a special trip. In general, I prefer yard sales because I find the selection better, but I will always go into a thrift store and see what is there whenever I have a chance. I find them particularly good for winter coats and kids clothes. Because I enjoy sewing, I also look through the used cloth racks for clothes that can be cut up and made into something else. One time I made two fabric "crowns" for my kids dress up box out of a used gold blouse. Cut it up, added some quilt batting and backing for stiffness and some velcro to hold it together when on their head and then sewed on some fancy button "jewels" to finish it off. They still are kicking around here, although my kids are way past the dress-up stage

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Tammi Brunson

I regularly shop at thrift stores. I haven't bought retail in years and I get lots of compliments when I show up with something "new". My favorite shop is Charity Guild in Houston, TX. It has everything from furniture to high end fasions. Goodwill is another great place to shop. When I load up too much, I make sure to donate something back.

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Serenity

I almost exclusively get my clothes from resale shops like Platos Closet. I sold a few items there before I got into the habit of shopping there too. It helps me keep my clothing budget in line with my savings goals. I have gotten more savvy over the years and try to pick out stronger, better-quality pieces over the cheapest shirts. That way, my resold shirts last longer than cheap ones I buy brand new at the mall!

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Guest

Sure do. We also donate a lot of clothing and other items to a thrift store run by our local animal shelter. Most things offered at thrifts are in very good or excellent condition. Books especially are a great bargain at thrift stores.

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Laura

Thrift stores have been a life saver since my divorce. Most of my kids clothes come from there.

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Giang Nguyen

I do shop at thrift stores for mainly cheap awesome clothes (daily wears or some costumes for 80s party, Halloween etc.)

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Holly

The best place to find CDs and books is the thrift store. Great way to find vacation reading and vacation music for a very affordable sum.

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Carolyn Knoll

Aloha, Yes I shop at thrift shops. I am always amazed at what I can find there. There are several really good thrift shops near my home here in Hawaii. I also shopped at thrift shops in the San Francisco Bay Area where anyone can find really great deals at the many shops in that area.

The best thing I have ever found was a beautiful Missoni black jump suit for $8.00. If you haven't checked out a good thrift shop, you have no idea what you are missing.

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Elizabeth

I do shop at thrift stores, but I do it with caution. I don't buy just because it's cheap, it has to be in good shape and something that legitimately appeals to my taste before I purchase it.

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Nicholas

Nope, I don't shop at Thrift Shops because they usually don't have what I need.

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de

I sure do! I look for storage baskets, planters, craft supplies, office supplies, books, furniture and long crinkly skirts.

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Mai

I shop at thrift stores for clothes, small housewares, and books. I read around 4-5 paperbacks a month so this really is beneficial for me. I know it is probably better to borrow at the library but some contemporary titles are not available, have to be put on hold, etc. Plus I live closer to the thrift store. What do I do with all these books? Sometimes I sell them online in lots or give them away.

I don't shop my entire wardrobe at the thrift store. For example I always just buy my work pants new since it is easier to find a style I do happen to like since it would be available in different sizes in retail stores. Though shirts, work blouses, casual pants are plentiful to choose from in my size at the thrift stores.

I think my favorite thing I ever thrifted was a Tommy Bahama t-shirt for my fiancé. This was the item that changed his mind about saving in thrift stores. He always thought thrift stores are for poor people only. Tommy bahama was always a brand he thought he would buy when we made much more money but felt he had to wait ( a silk shirt can cost over $100). When I came home with a jersey material tommy bahama shirt in great condition he was so happy and then shocked I only spent $2.00. Now I always on the look out for them and he now has a handful.

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Lori

I love shopping thrift shops. It requires patience but if you have the time to look you can always find great deals. I've found many great pieces of clothing, as well as collectable items. I usually spent a couple hours each week checking out the stores around me.

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Christina

I shop at thrift stores for clothing and household items and find such great things that it pains me to pay regular retail price for most items. Anyone browsing in my closet would think I spend a lot of money on clothes (J Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor). Friends comment about my pretty, "Pottery Barnesque" household decor as well. I readily share that I got the majority of what I have at thrift stores--or yard sales. I enjoy these bargains SO MUCH MORE knowing that I spent my money wisely! Then when I get tired of these things, I don't have the guilt of replacing them with another thrifty bargain.

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Guest

I donate to Goodwill more often than I shop there but occasionally I will buy something.

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Margaret

I would like to shop more at thrift stores but find that the stores aren't always viable based on my gas budget or work schedule.

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Guest

Having been shopping their for over 20 years. I clothed 5 children this way thru high school. Also furnished my home with their unique selections.

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We buy all of our clothes (except underwear) used. I don't want to support sweatshops and, besides saving money, buying used helps me do that.

We spend less than $200 a year on clothing and shoes for two people.

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Caitlin

I love shopping at thrift stores! No one is ever wearing the same thing I am, and I always get compliments on my unique finds.

My number one tip is to always look for quality. I only buy quality pieces, knowing that if I end up not incorporating them into my wardrobe, I can resell them on Ebay, almost always for significantly more than I paid. I have found numerous designer pieces and gorgeous vintage items for a fraction of the prices at boutiques and vintage stores! I also always look out for cashmere - it holds up well with age and can be found at almost any thrift store for at least 95% off retail!

Also, I used to buy pieces that didn't quite fit (especially high-end items) intending to get them tailored. But I never did. Now I need to be honest with myself about this and realize that if I buy it I will probably end up reselling it. Make sure to take into account whether or not the item will need additional love before it's wearable!

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Debra

Shop at thrift stores almost exclusively--when my husband and I married (2nd marriage for both) we outfitted our entire house with used furniture. After 12 years, we still have not purchased one single new piece of furniture!

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michelle

Yes! All the time. Thrifting is such an adventure for me, and I love the thrill of finding a bargain.

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Susan P.

My sister and I go to thrift stores in other areas of the country when we go on vacations together. We've found some good things that way. We try to stick to clothing if we are flying but on road trips can get other things.

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Renae

I buy ALL my clothes at thrift stores. I think it is silly to buy new clothes with so many great used clothes available.

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Lisa

Yes, I do-- everything save for shoes.

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Arthi

I don't shop at thrift stores because I can NEVER find things I like. Maybe it's the area I live in, but there aren't fun things for a girl my age.

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Mary W

I shop at Thrift Stores where ever I go. I have found some amazing deals. Of all my wardrobe, outfits purchased in Thrift Shops receive 99% of the compliments.

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Joan

Yes, I shop at thrift stores. I usually only shop when I need to replace something in my wardrobe. Then I go to the thrift stores first to see if I can find it there before I have to pay retail price. I also get a lot of my books at the thrift stores. Since I am an avid reader this saves me money, too.

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DeeDee

Sometimes, if I need something to wear and don't want to spend much.

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gwen hicks

I love thrift shops. Where else can you go and have a spree for 10 or 20 bucks. you never know what you will find. Sometimes i even find new things with tags. We have several that we frequent often.

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Amanda H

I shop at thrift stores occasionally, usually looking for home goods - kitchen stuff, furniture, picture frames, etc.

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Sabrina A.

I usually shop thrift shops for home goods and craft items. I dont really shop them for clothing because I feel like I can sometimes get better deals at places like target when their clearance items go to 70- 90 percent! My biggest score at a thrift shop was a vintage eletric blue PRADA handbag that I found at goodwill!

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Roger

I shop at thrift stores for clothing and glassware. I've gotten sport coats for $2.50 on half-off days and casual shirts for pennies. Just check closely for stains. Need drinking glasses, it is a great place. May not find a whole set but I don't have a full set at home now. I can't stand to pay Mall prices anymore.

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Angie unduplicated

Other people visit tourist traps while traveling-I go to thrift stores, both charity-run and private. All of my recreational reads are secondhand-sourced, as are my work clothes. TV sets for my boss's rentals are from the local Sally, and a second one a hundred miles up the road provided the dollar-fifty earrings complimented for nearly 20 years and still coveted by a niece. I wear snazzy heels and jackets from Snazzy Seconds. If I make a purchasing mistake, it's an inexpensive one, and its return without refund helps the nonprofits' social programs. Their offerings help stretch my low wages so I can have a little emergency fund and others can utilize their services.

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Denise

I shop at thrift stores to help their cause, and I like to upcycle old items, and of course find great treasures!

Donna Freedman's picture

I buy almost all my clothing in thrift stores, and regularly buy housewares and holiday gifts there as well. One thing I already miss about Seattle is its thrift stores -- Anchorage has a much smaller population and therefore fewer options. However, I have still found some great stuff at a considerable discount.
I especially appreciate Value Village's loyalty card: It lets you shop at 50% off the day *before* a half-price sale begins. Nice.

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GuestJanice

Thrifting is a wonderful way to live well at less cost! I have gotten so many fun things. It is a treasure hunt that never ends!!!

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Lisa

Thrift store shopping rocks! I've bought second hand merchandise for years...mainly clothing and furniture but many other items as well. I buy used whenever possible.

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Debra K

I don't tend to shop at thrift stores on a regular basis. Those closest to where I live don't seem to have much that interests me when I look (besides books, and I'm trying to buy less of thsoe and get them from the library instead).

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Fran Marie

I shop for clothing, furniture, housewares, linens, etc. You name it. My favorite is an Am-Vet store and my money goes to a good cause. I very rarely buy anything new anymore. Most new stuff is garbage!

I found a box of never-opened, French foot seamed nylon stockings for a dollar a pair! They had to be at least 50 years old and in PERFECT shape! Score!!

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Guest

Yes!! Why not?!

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Marcia C.

I shop at thrift stores for a variety of household items. Right now I am trying to get Easter decorations since mine were destroyed in a flood.

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Kara

I shop at thrift stores for several reasons:

Good quality clothing for cheap.
Unique pieces of clothing.
Up cycle sweaters for cheap yarn.
Sell good quality brand names on eBay.

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dawnelle

I do- we have seven kids and I can often find clothes, especially for the youngest. Last week I bought an almost-new fleece jacket for my 4 year old, who had lost his jacket recently, for $3. Washed it and he wears it every day! I also never buy new costumes, but hunt for items for my kids to use when Halloween comes around. It's really fun. In addition, I love snagging water jugs for a dollar or two, for the kids to use for soccer practice. Those jugs are spendy and I have a handful of them that I've bought for $1. Fun contest- thanks!

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Melissa K

Almost all of my clothes are from Thrift Stores. The trick is to find one or two good ones.

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KIM

I love to go to a new town and go to its thrift stores. In my own area, I go to Goodwill Super stores. I just bought shoes this week for the first time after a friend had found me sandals this summer at a thrift that I love... the shoes are comfy, just like the pants- already worn and comfy! I am ruined for the mall! I get shirts, jackets , earrings, books, kids clothes, socks, gloves, pictures and frames. Knowig i can do this happily gives me peace of mind for the future when I may be really poor with this economy.

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Amber Storck

Of course I shop at thrift stores. For everything from shirts and sweaters to furniture that I can refurbish and make look new. I'm still trying to find a vintage Schwinn bicycle at a reasonable price. Wish me luck!

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BRB

Yes, yes I do! I get clothing and household goods along with furniture if it is good quality and priced reasonably. Really good place to find baskets and some times craft supplies and fabric.

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Alissa A

I will buy furniture to update, but no clothes or anything else really!

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Gemma

Sure do. We buy books and small furniture items like a desk my daughters needed fir their schoolwork. Was only $35!! Perfect for 6 & 10 yr old girls!!

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Guest

I have shopped at thrift stores for almost 20 years and love it! First, it was because it was the cool thing to do during the "grunge" years. Then, it was because I liked getting clothing and furniture for cheap. Now, I continue to shop at thrift stores to save money (especially on children's clothing, furniture, and toys) and because it's better for the environment. When I need something, I look for it at thrift stores before I consider buying it new. I have several friends and family members that also love to shop thrift and we make a fun day of it whenever we can. You just need to know which thrift stores have the best sales and when they receive new items.

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Maura

I most definitely shop at thrift stores. It's fun, challenging, gratifying and very addictive. Some days you can get lucky and will have to get a cart to hold everything and others not so much and will have to put the cart away. I've come away with some very awesome deals and items and received many compliments on some of the merchandise I've bought. I highly recommend trying it out.

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Carmen

I find it hard to shop for clothes for myself but I pick up almost all my daughter's clothes at either thrift stores or rummage sales. At her age, they outgrow them before they're worn out. I also found a great sheet that I was able to turn into curtains for her room.

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katie m

I used to shop at thirft stores a lot more. That was before I learned about bed buggs. Buyer beware!

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Guest

I love to search thrift stores for out-of-print knitting and crochet books. Plus I have found many useful craft item such as buttons, needles and crochet hooks. In addition, I am glad to be contributing to the various charities supported by the stores.

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Allison

Yes! In fact, I manage a non-profit thrift shop in my town. I have brought home so many different kinds of things, it always surprises me. Sometimes we get *brand new, never opened* products.

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Natalie

My stepfather used to say: I do not wear second hand clothes, there are may be 10 guys died in them...though I do shop at thrift shops occasionally, the picture of that dead guy is often in my head :o)