In my last blog post, I admitted that shopping in thrift stores has some challenges, and I shared the 10 things I hate most about it, even though it is one of my favorite activities. Without further ado, here are the 10 things I LOVE most about shopping in thrift stores.
1. Treasure hunting
In thrift shops, I always make a beeline to certain areas: art, jewelry, small decorative items, and furniture. While I don’t really need any of those things, I am always hopeful that I will find that unique special item to take home. Just this summer, I found an amazing red, wooden school-type locker with three doors and three bins. It was the perfect solution for shoe storage in our hallway. We love it, and several people would love to convince me to sell it to them.
2. Good prices
I found that red locker at a Goodwill store for $75. In an antique or collectibles shop, it would have been over $400. Loving the piece and the price is a wonderful part of thrift shopping.
3. Supporting charities
Buying things from a place where all the net proceeds go to charitable work is a great feeling. Some of my favorites besides Eastside Community Aid are Habitat for Humanity, WAIF on Whidbey Island, Life Spring in Bellevue, and Lifelong in Seattle. Getting bargains and doing good all in one stop!
4. Varied merchandise
I think every thrift store has at least one of everything ever produced by mankind come through their doors at least once over a ten year period. When I volunteer at ECA, I usually price donations. Almost every day, I come across an item that I can’t identify. I have to do some research or talk with my fellow volunteers to figure it out. The variety and the unexpected are what make shopping at thrift stores so much more fun than big box or department store shopping.
I feel good about buying used items whenever I can, instead of buying new. Every time we reuse an item, we are lessening the impact on our planet. The less we produce and dispose of, the better our environment. And yes, I am an environmentalist.
The low prices at thrift stores allow me to purchase and try out items I would never buy at full price. For example, will buy a pair of skinny jeans for a few dollars used and wear them once out to the grocery to see how I feel about them. If I like them, I’ll add it them to my wardrobe, if not I will donate them to a thrift shop.
By the way, in my skinny jeans experiments, I have learned that there is the perfect amount of “skinny” and too much “skinny”. I have about 3 pairs of skinny jeans and can wear one any old time (the perfect pair), one when I am not going to be moving around a lot (the OK pair) and one that I might wear for one hour at a time when I have lost a pound or two or three (the too “skinny” pair).
I am very glad I bought that first pair of used skinny jeans because I love my perfect pair. I never would have purchased them new.
7. No pressure to buy
Most thrift shops are just glad to see me in the store looking around. Any purchase I make is appreciated. None of the sales personnel are working on commission or Employee of the Month contests. Thrift shops are often run by volunteers who are delighted to have funds to support their charitable endeavors.
8. Shoes that are already stretched out
I have a wide foot, and it is really hard to find a new pair of shoes that is comfortable to wear without a long break in period. Nowadays, almost all of my shoes are purchased used. I know that if a pair is comfortable in the store, I will be able to wear them all day right away.
9. Clothes already shrunk and faded as much as they are going to
I hate it when a new shirt comes out of the washer a size too small or out of the dryer two shades lighter. A used item has already experienced all of those traumas and is ready to be worn and laundered over and over again.
10. The adventure
This is my favorite reason to shop at thrift stores. It is just plain fun for an hour, a day, or over and over again.
Happy thrift shopping!
Susan is a frequent volunteer at Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop, where she sorts, prices, and stocks merchandise to her heart's content. Before retirement, she owned and operated a consignment shop for women's plus size clothing in Seattle. Through trial and error and talking with customers, she learned a thing or two. An avid "thrift shopper," Susan loves to buy clothing, especially when she gets good quality and value for her money.
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