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5 Reasons to Shop for Clothes at Thrift Stores

Updated on January 6, 2011

The majority of my wardrobe has been purchased from thrift stores - and I like it that way. At thrift stores across America, one man's trash is truly another man's treasure. Thrift stores are social businesses that sell second-hand goods, and because inventory is donated and stores are staffed by volunteers, almost all the money goes to charity. They can be found in nearly every neighborhood, and as the name suggests, are a wondrously thrifty way to shop for things like kitchen appliances, jewelry, books, art, and most importantly, clothing. If you have never shopped at a thrift store, I can offer you 5 good reasons to start.


woman shopping for clothes at a thrift store
woman shopping for clothes at a thrift store

5 Reasons to shop for clothes at thrift stores

1. It's good for the environment

You’re eco-friendly. The bumper sticker on your Prius reads: Save The Planet. You do your best to conserve water, switch off lights when you leave a room and recycle. Yet, you are still shopping at Bloomingdales. Shop at thrift stores, and Mother Nature will fall in love with you. Consider the implications of buying brand new clothing from a store. Imagine the resources involved in making just one item of clothing; between the materials for fabric and packaging, the fuel costs of production and shipping, and the human labor. You recycle cans, so why not cardigans?

2. It's for a good cause

Thrift stores are social businesses, often owned by a charity or non-profit organization. Since the items sold are donated, the money you spend at the thrift store goes to their charity or non-profit, minus the cost of rent, maintenance etc. Take for example, The Goodwill, who uses the money to fund education, training and job placement programs for people with disabilities and other barriers within the community. At The Salvation Army, your purchases support The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers where they help others by rehabilitating, reclaiming lives and healing families. Doesn't that make you feel good?

3. They have a diverse selection

Thrift stores survive off donations. With these donations coming in on a daily basis from all types of people, the store's inventory is constantly changing. Your local thrift store doesn't discriminate fashions either. You can find a legit Members Only jacket aside a brand new fur coat. The selection of clothes will vary depending on the location of the thrift store. It's possible to find a $15 Versace dress at a thrift store in Beverly Hills, California, for example. Although finding an item like this isn't easy, it will take shopping with some patience, persistence and a little luck.

4. You own a wash machine

Ok I admit, there is a downside to shopping for clothes at a thrift store: the smell. It’s a truly musty odor that I have come to understand and appreciate. I understand that if you were to gather an item of clothing from a group of a hundred people, and pile it in one room, it’s bound to smell a little funky-funk. I can appreciate this because - yeah I'm admitting something else - I smell too. The good news is, you can wash whatever it is you buy. After a quick cycle in the wash, it will soon smell just like you.

5. It's inexpensive

Even Donald Trump likes to save money. Especially trapped in the middle of an economic slump, who wants to spend a paycheck on a pair of jeans? There is a fine line between gently used and brand new clothing. In fact, they are nearly the same, omit price. Think about a new car. As soon as you drive it off the lot, it’s used, and it’s resale value drops tremendously. The reality is, aside from four dusty tires, the car is still in perfect condition. Clothing at the thrift store is often still in perfect condition, just like the new car fresh off the lot. You can find new items with even the tags still on them. Either it didn't fit the previous owner, or it was a gift they never liked in the first place. No matter what the condition, new or slightly used, it's always less expensive than the department store. In my opinion, shopping at thrift stores doesn't mean you're cheap, it means you're smart.

Tips for shopping at thrift stores

  • Bring cash - Many thrift stores won’t accept anything else.
  • Wear light clothes - Many thrift stores will not have a changing room. In this case, you can try on items over your lighter clothes
  • Map a route - If you plan on thrift store shopping, map out a route first of several stores you can visit. The selection will be different at each one, and your odds of finding something you love are will be increased.
  • Check it before you buy it - While most items at the thrift store will be in good to great condition, it’s always smart to check them for stains, rips, tears, missing buttons etc. before purchasing. Remember: thrift stores don’t take returns.
  • Have patience and be persistent - Don't get discouraged after an unsuccessful day of thrift store shopping. Check back again another day when you're feeling thrifty, eventually you will find something that suits you perfectly.

Still not convinced to shop at thrift stores?

If you disagree with these reasons to shop for clothes at a thrift store, don’t worry, I won't judge you. Personally, in a United States rampant in over-consumption and unemployment, I think it’s only wise that we recycle clothes and shop frugally at thrift stores. People are just people, but if the thought of wearing a strangers clothes still bothers you, consider this: You use a strangers knife and fork every time you dine out. Why not share a t-shirt and jeans? After all, it's good for the environment, cheap, and most importantly, it’s charitable.


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    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      6 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      You can find some pretty neat things at thrift stores and consignment shops. Whenever I have the time, I like to browse through the stores just to see what they have. I like to get the various things that they have like dinnerware, jeans, cookware and books and music. I see nothing wrong with shopping at these stores. The quality of the merchandise is often better than what you get at some of the high end stores. Great hub.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      Genna East - Yah! People should never put others down, especially for being thrifty. That's not right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts...

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank for for this hub. I wish people wouldn't put others down who shop at thrift and consignment stores; it is incredibly snobbish if not downright silly. Your directory is great.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      thethrifty - Yeah I just found that after researching some stuff for this hub...pretty sweet though. Glad you can enjoy with me. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      thethrifty 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for posting the national thrift store directory. I'll definitely check this out!

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      instantlyfamily - good one. Thanks for reading and becoming a follower...

    • instantlyfamily profile image

      instantlyfamily 

      7 years ago

      I shop at thrift stores regularly. I look for and often find good quality, name brand clothing for me and my family. I also find books, puzzles, games, hand bags and so much more! Great article.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      imatellmuva - ya you spelled it right...and ya, it's not sanitary to share undergarmets with strangers...even after a wash.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      I forgot about that...draws, undies, swimsuits....I absolutely positively, unequivocally (did I spell that right?) stay away from these items too!

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      imatellmuva - I don't shop consignment too much, but granted, equally as thrifty. I typically stay away from used underwear and swim trunks...add those to the list with toilet paper and food. Thanks for reading...

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      I love shopping thrift and consignment...especially consignment. I can't afford my taste, and this is one way to get the high-end designer clothes, shoes and accessories that I like. I have found some really nice, and extraordinary pieces, that you won't find in regular retail, even some high end shops. My entire house is nearly furnished by consignment and thrift stores. I joke that the only thing in my house that's not used is toilet paper and food.

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      dallas93444 - That may be true...but at the hands of underage foreign slave labor. Maybe not, but always good to know about a deal. Thanks for sharing.

      trevzooms - Cheers. Thanks for the comment.

    • trevzooms profile image

      trevzooms 

      7 years ago from Honest within myself

      Hi, great hub with good sound information for anyone wanting to save a few.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      My sister who gives clothes to the needy and homeless, tells me often she purchases at Walmart and Kmart cheaper...

    • jdaviswrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Davis 

      7 years ago from California

      esatchel - I am on the once a month schedule myself. When I was younger I would buy stuff at the thrift store, turn around and sell it on ebay for much much more...so I see where you are coming from. Cheers and thanks for reading.

    • esatchel profile image

      PDGreenwell 

      7 years ago from Kentucky

      We love to shop thrift stores. We don't buy everything there, but we hit one of the local stores at least once a month or so. I've gotten expensive items with absolutely nothing wrong with them at crazy low prices. This year, I have found a number of Christmas collectibles that are selling at much higher prices on eBay. It's fun to find these deals. In turn, we donate regularly to our local Goodwill. It feels good to keep useful items with plenty of life in them in circulation. I wish everyone would do this!

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