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10 Ways To Save Money By Shopping At Thrift Stores

Updated on July 9, 2015
Thrift shop window
Thrift shop window | Source

Thrift Store Shopping: 10 Ways To Save On Everyday Items

Thrift stores are an amazing place, and can be one of the best places to save money. Donations are made, and employees sort through all the items. There is no way that thrift stores could ever sort through every little thing to find its value. There is also no way that they could try to sell their items for full price in their stores. They receive so many different items on a regular basis that they have to price everything to sell in order to move inventory.

For those reasons, you can get some awesome deals by shopping at thrift stores for many everyday items. Why pay full price when you can go shopping around at thrift stores and get the same items for a lot less? In this article, I will discuss ten of the many ways that you can save your hard earned money by shopping at thrift stores.

Thrift store clothing racks
Thrift store clothing racks | Source

Number 1 - Clothing

The first way to save at the thrift store is the most commonly thought of - clothing. Even if you have already heard over and over again that you can buy all of your clothes at the thrift store, I will say it again. You can find all the clothes you will ever need, and more, at thrift stores. You can have the same expensive clothing brands that are popular and expensive, but you will only pay a fraction of the retail cost.

The reason it is so easy to find all of your clothes at thrift stores is because of the large volume of clothing that they all have in stock. So many people donate clothes when they don't fit anymore, when they don't have room for them, or even when they received clothing as a gift that they did not want, and the racks are always full of clothes.

Because of the large volume of clothing found at thrift stores, there is no way in the world that anyone could ever look through all of the clothes that are available to search through without losing interest. Anyone could miss that brand that you love, and even if they do see it, it may not be their size.

Chances are pretty high that you will find at least one piece of clothing that you love at thrift stores. If you strike out at one store, simply go to all the other thrift stores, and you are bound to find something.

Thrift shop shoe racks
Thrift shop shoe racks | Source

Number 2 - Shoes

You have to buy new shoes every time your old shoes wear out. Most people go to a retail store and find the cheapest pair that they can find that is comfortable. You don't have to sacrifice quality if you just go to the thrift store.

Most people donate shoes to thrift stores when they don't fit anymore, when they get tired of them, or when they think they are worn out, but most of the shoes that get donated are still in good shape. So if you don't mind the fact that someone else wore your shoes before you did, and you make sure that you clean them before you wear them, then you can save a ton of money on shoes by buying them at thrift stores.

All kinds of shoes can be found at thrift stores, including dress shoes, casual shoes, skate shoes, sandals, tennis shoes, boots, and more. Find what you like or need, and go from there. Look for specific shoes that you like, and find some in your size. Try them on, and if they fit, buy them! Just make sure you at least spray them with something that will kill the odor and any bacteria or fungus that may be lurking in them.

Thrift stores are especially useful for buying shoes if you go through shoes quickly. for example, if you skateboard, play sports, or do anything that wears out your shoes, then you know that you have to buy new shoes at least every few months. You can cut down tremendously on the cost of shoes buy buying slightly used shoes at thrift stores.

Thrift store kitchen items aisle shelf
Thrift store kitchen items aisle shelf | Source

Number 3 - Kitchen Items

Plates, pots and pans are expensive nowadays. Sure, they will last you a long time, but why pay full retail price for them? Instead, head to the thrift store to score some deals.

Every thrift store has a section of shelves full of kitchen items, including silverware, plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, pots and pans. People clean out their kitchens for new dishes, and they donate their old dishes to make room for the new ones. Chances are good that those dishes are still in pretty good shape.

Spend some time in the kitchen section, and you are bound to find some dishes and cookware that would be perfect for your kitchen. The best part is, you will be paying a fraction of the cost that you would pay to buy the items new!

If an item made the trip to the thrift store, it will probably be fine to use as long as you wash it first. Inspect everything carefully, though, as sometimes pieces end up in a thrift store due to cracks and chips.

Thrift shop bookshelves aisle
Thrift shop bookshelves aisle | Source

Number 4 - Books

It seems that buying books is often cost prohibitive, especially when you can find so much content for free on the internet, even when it comes to fiction. If you prefer a hard paper copy to read, thrift stores are one of your best bets.

Thrift stores will typically have shelves lined with books of all types. You could find virtually any book you might want. The prices are usually decent, and you can buy several books without totally breaking the bank.

If you are looking for a specific book, or a new book, you may want to look at a discount book store like Half Price Books, or a book store that sells new books. But for your everyday reading pleasure, you are likely to find a book you will enjoy by shopping at a thrift store.

Toys in thrift stores
Toys in thrift stores | Source

Number 5 - Toys

People tend to donate their used toys when their kids grow out of them rather than throw them away. If you don't want to pay full price for your children's toys, let them pick out a toy at the thrift store, but make sure you wash it before they use it.

Thrift stores often have lots of dolls and action figures. They also have a multitude of board games, card games, and puzzles, as well as random toys. You are likely to find at least one toy that your child will enjoy by shopping at thrift stores, and you will save money at the same time.

Collectibles found in thrift stores
Collectibles found in thrift stores | Source

Number 6 - Collectibles

Thrift stores will always have random collectibles throughout the aisles. Many times, the employees don't know what they are, so they try to categorize it the best they can, and end up putting it in the wrong place. Keep your eyes open for collectibles, you never know where you may find them in a thrift store.

Lots of thrift stores have glass cases or a specific section for collectibles or items that they consider valuable. Look here, and you will often find something that peaks your interest, even if you don't buy it.

Keep in mind that a lot of people shopping at thrift stores are only looking to save money on clothing and household items. They will likely pass up on the collectibles, and that leaves you, along with other collectors, access to those items. Use this to your advantage, but don't take it for granted that no one else is looking for the same things that you are looking for.

Thrift store electronics shelf aisle
Thrift store electronics shelf aisle | Source

Number 7 - Electronics

You are not likely to find the latest technology at the thrift store. However, if you don't need the hottest high tech gadgets on the market, you can find lots of appliances and electronics at thrift stores for low prices.

Thrift stores typically have lots of stereos, tape players, DVD and CD players, and electric kitchen appliances. If you need any of these, don't buy a new one, find it at the thrift store. Just make sure it works before you buy it.

Thrift stores also tend to have lots of obscure cords and random electronic accessories lying around. If you need some kind of accessory, cable or power cord, look around at thrift stores and see if you can find it there before you buy it new.

Niche thrift store items
Niche thrift store items | Source

Thrift Store Shopping, What Sells On Ebay

Number 8 - Niche Items

Niche items are those items in specific categories that you are familiar with, be it photography equipment, fiestaware, antiques, or a combination of any specific categories. These are the items that you will pick up on most often, because you know a lot about them and they interest you.

You can look for niche items every time you go to a thrift store because you know exactly what to look for. You will be able to score some great deals because you can identify obscure items that others may be clueless about. This can help you fund hobbies or pastimes that you enjoy without spending all your money.

Niche items are also useful if you resell your thrift store finds on Ebay, like I do. You know what the items you sell look like, so you are able to spot them and pick them out among the other items in the store. You also know the value of your niche items, so you can determine the most you can pay for them and still make a profit.

Thrift store items new in box
Thrift store items new in box | Source

Number 9 - Brand New Items

You may be scratching your head at this one, but it is common to find brand new items in thrift stores. There are two reasons that I have come up with based on my own experiences with donating to thrift stores.

First, people receive gifts that they don't want, and they forget to return the items until it is too late, so they donate them. Second, people buy things brand new, and they end up forgetting about them and never using them. When they clean out the house, they donate the brand new items.

Brand new items are an excellent find at thrift stores. You can get something that you need for a fraction of the price, and it is brand new! It doesn't get much better than that.

Brand new items that end up in thrift stores make an excellent opportunity for online resale. You buy the item at the thrift store at a thrift store price, and then you sell it for its true value on Ebay.

Thrift store tools, pawn shop tools
Thrift store tools, pawn shop tools | Source

Number 10 - Tools

Tools can get expensive, even simple hand tools. If you look hard enough, you will likely find the tools you need for a decent price at a thrift store.

Thrift stores do not always have tools. If you look around, though, you will find a place with tools. If you buy power tools, make sure to test the item at the store to make sure it works before you buy it.

My recommendation for finding tools at cheap prices is actually not thrift stores, but is closely related. Garage sales are probably the best place to find used tools, and tend to have better prices than thrift stores. If you need a wide selection, and are willing to sacrifice price a little bit, pawn shops will always have massive amounts of tools to look through.

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These are some of the most common ways you can save money by shopping for everyday items at thrift stores. This is by no means a complete list, it is only a small portion of the things that you can save money on by buying them at thrift stores.

Look often, and you will see new things every time you visit the thrift store. You never know what you might find!

© 2013 Ryan Askew


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    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      4 years ago from The Netherlands

      These still are hard times for many of us.

      I guess the state of the economy might have affected many Hubpage readers too.

      Stores selling secondhand stuff can help us get the best bang for our bucks.

      Personally I have never bought any clothing or shoes in a thrift store.

      I usually go for the books!

      But I can imagine you could easily find what you are looking for.

      Reading your hub, I must confess I never realised there are so many everyday items you can find at a thrift store.

      Thanks for making us aware of the endless possibilities. An extra benefit of thrift stores is that many are run by and for charity. That's an added bonus!

    • rls8994 profile image


      4 years ago from Mississippi

      I am a frequent shopper at thrift stores. I love them! I found out about these stores a few years ago and have found so many great items. Great hub! :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I've been buying clothing, etc at thrift shops for years. You can't beat the prices!

    • Shona Venter profile image

      Shona Venter 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      Great article, Ryan45678. Unlike many other posts on similar topics, you have explained everything clearly and concisely. Keep up the writing and I look forward to reading more of your work :-)


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