6 Back-to-School Items You Should Always Shop for at the Thrift Store

Thrift store shopping is not a passion shared by everyone, and some people can be intimidated by it, thinking that you need a lot of time or skill to find a great deal. While it does help to have the right mindset and an eye for a find, just about anyone can score real deals on quality stuff at thrift stores. And during the coming back-to-school frenzy, a thrift store deal is exactly what parents need to help save some much needed time and money. (See also: 10 Things to Look for Every Time You Visit a Thrift Store)

From designer jeans to new-to-your-kid dorm furniture, your local thrift store probably has lots of ways to save you a bunch of cash during your back-to-school shopping spree. Consider these six.

1. Jeans and Uniforms

The price of jeans for kids who are still growing is almost obscene. They often cost as much as the adult-sized versions but only may be useable for a single semester of school. The good news is that because kids grow out of jeans so quickly, many pre-owned pairs donated to the local thrift store are still in like-new condition but priced for just a few dollars. Designer names can often be found at a steep discount, and no one but you would be the wiser. If your local school district enforces a dress code, be sure to see if any uniform pieces have been donated to your local thrift store each time you stop by. Families that no longer have small children often donate any clothing in good condition including school uniforms.

2. Sporting Gear

Parents with kids no longer involved in sports or kids who have outgrown their gear will often donate it to the thrift store. Before you go shopping at the pricier sporting goods store, check in with the local thrift store to see what is available. When your own family outgrows their supplies, consider a donation to help other families save money, too.

3. Winter Gear

Winter coats are another necessary expense that can often prove too costly when trying to clothe multiple children. As with jeans, the price of winter coats, insulated boots, and snow pants can be high for clothing that kids will soon outgrow. Check the local thrift store, especially in the fall and spring when people are cleaning out the clutter from their homes and making donations. Keep an eye out for some fun winter accessories like sleds, skis, and snowboards, too.

4. Office Supplies

Personally there is nothing like making a trip down the pen and paper aisles while back-to-school shopping. But if you are trying to cut back, check out your local thrift store to see what supplies you can find. When people are clearing out their clutter, they often find things they have too much of in the school/office supply department. They will keep what they need but donate the rest. You can often buy pencils, folders, and other supplies in bulk amounts for a very reasonable price.

5. Containers/Dishware

Students headed off to college will be in need of household supplies for their apartments or dorms. The thrift store is a great place to find quality pots, pans, dishes, and glasses. Many times you can even score vintage pieces that look as cool as they are functional. It’s a great way for your child to get some starter pieces for cheap.

6. Furniture

In my local area, there are several thrift shops that have opened recently, and all of them showcase some great looking furniture on their Facebook pages for incredibly reasonable prices. Sure, a lot of the items are mismatched, but they are still in great shape. Why buy new stuff for a college apartment? Many times the furniture will get damaged from frequent moves and the wear and tear of visiting friends. Spend money on good quality linens and comforters, but check out the local thrift store for bed frames, tables, and bookcases on the cheap.

How do you save on back-to-school supplies?

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Guest's picture

You know what I wish someone would've suggested furniture, dishware, and such things to me when I was headed to college AND when renting my first apartment. I actually bought a living room set on credit instead - UGH! Great tips!

Tisha Tolar's picture

Mike - depending on when you went to college that tip may have fallen on deaf ears. It seems to me that only recently are people embracing the benefits of the thrift shop. Looking back, I suppose that even I would have balked at anyone's suggestion to buy used stuff especially since I could not wait to buy all the new, cool stuff for my first dorm room. Just curious - what ever happened to your expensive living room set? I bought a college apt futon on credit so I know how you feel. The futon has had a long life and is still going strong! ;)

Guest's picture

I like the winter gear I have found some nice jackets their that were in really great shape. Never thought about office supplies but that surely would save a lot of money on the little thing that the kids need when school starts. Thanks for the tips Tisha!