Our family lives on a budget, and one way I keep our spending in check is by shopping at thrift stores and resale stores. Not all thrift and resale stores are created equal, and I’ve had different levels of success with various stores.
Here are some stores in my area that I shop at, along with a few thoughts and tips regarding each store:
Savers is a slightly more upscale, for-profit thrift store that only puts the best items on the selling floor, therefore saving customers from having to weed through a lot of undesirable items to find just a few good things. The store is organized, with clothing on racks arranged by type (women’s short-sleeved shirts, women’s long-sleeved shirts, women’s cardigans, dresses, etc.) and, even more helpful, by size. That helps to make shopping trips efficient. I can walk up to a clothing rack with my size at Savers and find several items I like in just a few minutes. A quick search of the women’s racks usually yields brands such as Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor Loft, Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, GAP, Liz Claiborne, and more. The children’s racks are full of clothes from Children’s Place, Justice, GAP, and more. I’ve also found some good dresses, robes, and even fun super hero and Harry Potter shirts for my daughters.
Savers also has many treasures beyond clothing. I’ve purchased a nice quilt for my guest bedroom, jewelry boxes for my kids, whimsical throw pillows originally from IKEA, and a like-new wallet for myself here. They also have a nice book section. I have to exercise self control when I visit Savers.
Some of Savers’ prices can be on the higher side for a thrift store, but if you sign up for Savers emails (you can do this in store or online), you’ll get insider knowledge about upcoming sales, and sometimes email members get sale prices before the general public. Savers frequently has limited-time sales like 50% off short-sleeved shirts, or even 50% off all clothing and accessories. Senior citizens also get 30% off every Tuesday. In addition, if you donate your unwanted items to Savers, you can get a punch card that — when full — will get you a discount on your next purchase, but it expires within a couple of months, so you’ll want to use it soon. Even if you don’t get a discount, you’ll still pay less at Saver’s versus buying new.
Unfortunately, my local Savers store closed recently, and the next-nearest store is too far away for me to shop at much. Hopefully you’re luckier than me and have a store near you.
2. The Salvation Army
I like my local Salvation Army’s thrift store because it is larger and a little more organized than Goodwill. Clothing at this nonprofit store tends to be arranged on racks by color, but not by size. I’ve found some good like-new Target and Old Navy clothing for my kids here as well as black dress pants and dress shoes for myself, and there is always interesting furniture. This is my go-to store to search for clothing when I need to make a costume, such as when my daughter portrayed a historical figure for a school event. I do wish my local store wouldn’t staple on the price tags, which sometimes leaves small holes in clothing.
Goodwill is the store everyone thinks of when they think of thrift shopping. I’ve spent plenty of time in my local nonprofit Goodwill stores and have purchased some good clothes for myself and my kids over the years. I tend to have luck with their children’s shoes. It’s also a good place to go if I’m looking for inexpensive picture frames or bedsheets, and their book section is decent. Their clothing racks tend to be less organized compared to some other thrift stores. Clothes are organized by type (women’s pants, women’s shorts, women’s sweaters, etc.) but not by size, so it can take a long time to sort through the racks to find anything in my size and preferred style.
4. Red Racks
Red Racks is a nonprofit chain in Missouri. It’s operated by the Disabled American Veterans. Clothing here is organized by type and size, making it easy to quickly parse through the racks to find exactly what I want. I’ve found fancy dresses for my daughters here along with some great books. It’s not upscale like Savers, but it’s still a great option for finding affordable treasures.
5. St. Vincent de Paul
This St. Louis-based nonprofit helps families touched by poverty and/or disasters. Their stores are nicely organized and clean. In my experience, their clothing selection is on the small side, but they have a good variety of furniture and housewares.
6. Locally owned thrift stores
I live in a large metropolitan area with a scattering of independently owned thrift stores that are always interesting to browse, and some of them donate a portion of their profits to local charities. Look for these unique shops in your own area. You never know what you might find.
7. Once Upon a Child
Once Upon a Child is a for-profit children’s resale shop, so it’s slightly different than thrift stores. You can sell your children’s gently used clothing, shoes, toys, baby items, and accessories to the store, and they resell them to make their own profit. My local store always has a large selection, and everything is organized by clothing type and size, so it’s a quick process to look through the racks (always a good thing if your kids are with you). Clothing prices start at $1.50, with many items in the $2.50 to $5.50 range.
I’ve sold a few things to Once Upon a Child, but I could have made at least twice as much money selling those same items at my own garage sale (and that’s saying a lot because clothing doesn’t sell for much at garage sales). If you don’t want to put in the time and effort to host a garage sale, though, this is a way to make a few bucks.
8. Plato’s Closet
Plato’s Closet is a resale franchise catering to teens and young adults, both male and female. It works similar to Once Upon a Child, where you can bring in new and gently used name-brand clothing and potentially get cash for it. They prefer brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Charlotte Russe, and Hollister.
There are many options when it comes to thrift stores and resale shops. Which stores are your favorites? What stores did I miss here? Let us know in the comments.