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Thrift Stores and Thrift Shopping

Updated on December 4, 2011

Addicted to Thrift Stores

I don’t know about you, but I must confess that I am addicted to shopping at thrift stores. Whether it’s Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or the other privately owned thrift shops in my town, I am addicted to them all.

With the world economy in the crapper, I’m starting to see more “well off” people at thrift stores, pulling up in their BMWs and Mercedes Benzes. I’m a thrift store lifer, so I notice when new types of people start showing up. They are finely dressed with nice accessories, and they mingle amongst the smelly clothes and knick knacks with the rest of us lower class people.

If you are new to thrift shopping, you may be asking yourself a few questions. Who shops at thrift stores? Why do people like thrift stores? Is it ok to shop at thrift stores if I’m not poor?

So why Do People Like to Shop At Thrift Stores?

  • Saving Money
  • Buying Quality
  • Supporting Charity
  • Reselling for Profit

Saving Money

People shop at thrift stores for a variety of reasons, the main one being a lack of money. It used to be easy to tell which of your fellow shoppers are there because they can’t afford to buy life’s necessities at big box retail stores.

This is how I came to thrift store shopping. As a child, we didn’t have much money, and to survive on just my dad’s income so my mom could stay at home with us, we had to shop at garage sales and thrift stores. Some of my best childhood memories are of finding great toys and books, and only having to give a quarter for them.

Walking the aisles of a well stocked thrift store, you can find almost everything you would need for your life. Dishes, silverware, home décor, furniture, clothing, many of the items new or in their original boxes. It actually feels wasteful to buy new items when so many pre-owned items, in great condition, sit on thrift store shelves waiting for a new home.

Buying Quality

There aren’t many adages more true than “they don’t make things like they used to.” This is a fact. Why else would the stuff in thrift stores even exist? It’s still here and still in good shape because it was made well.

Back in the day, people and companies had pride in their workmanship, and the fact that a product was well made and built to last was a selling point. Those were the days of ceramics, enameled items, heavy metal construction. Today is the day of plastic and cheaper plastic, built solely to keep the price as low as possible. Most of our garbage is imported from China and Asia.

All you have to do is find an old Griswold cast iron skillet and feel its heft in your hands to know what I’m talking about.

Supporting Charity

In my town, most of the thrift stores are tied to a charity, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Some are operated by church ministries or crisis centers, so an added benefit of shopping at thrift stores is your contribution to charity.

Often the stores are staffed by people who are in transitional situations, moving from hard times towards a new life. It feels good to know that my purchases not only rescue amazing items from the dustbin of history, but they allow someone to receive job training or a hot meal.

Reselling for Profit

Amongst the shoppers looking for a deal and the fashionistas looking for the latest designer purse or vintage dress at a deep discount, you’ll find the flippers and the pickers. These are people who resell items on eBay, Craigslist and Etsy, or at flea markets and garage sales.

It is not hard to spot these people, as they are the ones inspecting hallmarks and makers marks, checking products for cracks and blemishes with a distinguishing eye. You see them every week, over and over. You start to know them.

If you are diligent and hit the thrift stores up multiple times per week, especially on the days when new items go out, you could corner the market in your town for nice finds. These items could then be sold for at least double what you paid. There are many people who make a living this way. Though not wildly profitable, it does allow you to earn your keep doing something you love: bargain hunting.


For me, thrift shopping is about more than money. In fact, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still shop at thrift stores, and would probably open my own.

Shopping at thrift stores is about finding that amazing collectible or overlooked art print. It’s about finding a special item of clothing that can last a lifetime, something that everyone will ask you about. And when you tell them you bought it at a thrift store, expect a mixed response, from impressed to horrified.

One should never feel ashamed of shopping at thrift stores. There are so many reasons we should all do it, whether it is for charity or just helping the planet by recycling old items.

Plus, I’d rather give a dollar to my local thrift store than a single penny to a Communist overlord running a factory that churns out cheap plastic crap.

Tell Us What You Think

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    • rls8994 profile image

      rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

      I love shopping at thrift stores. It is almost addicting to me lol. I love the excitement of what I might find. I have found so many great things. A lot of the clothes I have come from thrift shops and I proudly tell people where I got them if asked. And like you said, it supports a good cause so to me it's a win win situation :) Great hub!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 5 years ago from United States

      I agree with all of these reasons to shop at thrift stores. I took my youngest son to our local Goodwill yesterday and we spent TWO HOURS there! I am a person that hates to shop so two hours is huge. I was beyond thrilled at the amount of stuff I LOVED and bought for $20!!!!

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Definitely not for everyone.

    • profile image

      pinkblings 6 years ago

      Never bought anything at a thrift store. Had donated. I just can't stand the psychological aspect of wearing something used. It could come from a deceased person. Seriously, only I would know that it is used, and only I would care. Hence, I will not buy from thrift stores.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Wonderful hub. God Bless You, and I would like to become your fan.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      skye2day - thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It has brightened my day, which was dampened by the first snow (and traffic issues) of the season. So glad to have you as a reader.

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Blessings marriedwithdebt, NO mistake I landed at Hubnuggets today. I felt led when reading your interview. It is very good and I congratulate you for your hard work in getting out of debe and staying out of debt. I truly wish I had learned that at a young age. It took much hardship for me. I count it all joy today. I am grateful to be a testimony for Gods Grace and Mercy. I think. Lord what a wonderful Blessing you have given theis yong man in years to build a firm foundation. Of course God is our only gurarentee. He has truly Blessed you with knowledge at a young age. Thank you for touching my heart and that of many others. It is no mistake you landed at the hubs. Keep God first place He will always Bless you. I joined your host of fans and pray your year is Blessed in abundance of peace and joy from the Lord this new year. Keep on bro.

      Look forward to your reads. A sister in Christ.

      I really enjoy thrift stores and have been extremly Blessed shopping there!! Most of my furnture window coverings so on are from thift stores Love it you can find the best for way less.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Good point, felixtroll. They don't make 'em like they used to. Good thing about thrift stores is that if the item falls apart, you can get another one for a dollar.

      Thanks for reading.

    • felixtroll2 profile image

      felixtroll2 6 years ago from Manitowoc, WI

      I hear you. Its cheaper to do this. Sometimes, when you buy brand new, the stuff will fall apart in no time flat.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks pshast for taking the time to leave such a thoughful comment. I love thrift stores and thrift shopping, and hearing about others who do too. Thanks for reading!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      MWD- Excellent article. Very useful and very well written. 20 years ago I shopped for my three small boys because we could barely barely buy groceries and keep the lights on. Fifteen years ago and with a little more ease in the budget I discovered the great things to be had for pennies on the dollar at yard sales in upscale neighborhoods.

      And 10 years ago they opened three Goodwill stores in the county where I live. I regularly go through my closets and garage and donate. I also shop for books, book-cases. pillows, rugs, chairs, lamps, glass ware, mixing bowls, and sports equipment-sweaters-toys-games (all for for the grandchildren.

      I keep a list of birthdays and Christmas wants and regular household needs for my three married sons and their families and for friends. When I find something that might fit the bill, I pull out my cell phone and make sure of the color, size, etc. Then I purchase.

      And as you said,what a great way to stretch your dollars, give to charity, and go green. Thanks for this Hub. :)

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      My brother is almost to the point you are, MBA. He goes every week because he is starting a vintage clothing and collectibles website. I think if you ran into him in a thrift store you'd want to marry him. Thanks for visiting.

    • mybestadvice profile image

      mybestadvice 6 years ago from Canton, Ohio

      I'm so serious about thrift shopping that I have a master list of thrift stores in my area, a facebook page, write savings blog articles, and have scheduled Road Rally tours with an itinerary for local thrift and consignment shops on a regular basis. What a blast! The only thing I haven't found in a thrift store yet is my future husband, and I'm still confident that I will find him too. LOL!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      I really enjoy shopping at thrift stores as well. You've outlined the great reasons.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 6 years ago from California

      Really excellent article! I look for treasures of all sorts and sometimes I find them! It is the adventure of the chase that lures me!

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hey Tammy. It wasn't until I realized that there are hundreds of thousands of people in California that would pay $100 for something that we would pay $5 for in the Midwest, that I understood how people make money on eBay.

      @kikalina - Thanks for stopping by - glad you enjoyed it!

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 6 years ago from Europe

      What a great hub. I really enjoyed reading it!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina


      I am glad you wrote this hub. Before the recession, I never gave a thought to shopping in thrift stores. Now like you, I would consider to shop them even if I won the lottery.. :) I am one of those people who will purchase items and sell "lots" on ebay. I have had great success with this. In some parts of the country like California, the price of clothing is 2 x as much as it is here in the south. Those are normally the people who buy these things. I like to shop.. and make money so it is a great thing for me to do. Great topic and well done!

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Austinstar - thanks for stopping by. I'm like you, I try not to buy unneeded things. My problem comes with finding one of a kind items. Sometimes I buy those.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Excellent article and though I hardly ever shop (for anything), I think I will try my local Goodwill store. I wanted to go in the last time I dropped off a load of clutter I no longer wanted. Some of it was good stuff, I just didn't need it and my rule is if I haven't used something in years and it has a layer of dust on it, it's time to donate it.

      I'm always amazed at the stuff people spend money on. I'm also in the market for some salad sized plates and you just can't find good ones anywhere, so I think I'll try your suggestion!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Oh my I've seen tons of that book! Grisham, Steele, Connely, how to loss get my point. I've found some good books also such as signed books from Bill and Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter. I'm still hoping for a signed Obama book! Keep on hunting!:)

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Ann Marie - that's something I didn't mention, the donation aspect. Giving items to Goodwill or Salvo can be easier than trying to arrange with your trash company to haul them. I always try to think of the thrift stores if I am simply giving an item away. I recently learned the good stuff ends up in Goodwill's online auction, so I've been hunting on there too.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hey Sunshine - thanks for stopping by. I'm a book junkie as well, and I finally had to stop looking due to lack of space. How many copies of Dianetics do you think you've seen over the years on thrift store shelves?

    • Ann Marie Dwyer profile image

      Red Dwyer 6 years ago from Crandall, TX

      I have to admit I donate more than I shop, but when I do, I always come away with a steal...or ten.


    • profile image

      RonB51 6 years ago

      I've been in retail management and consulting for around 30 years, so I pretty much had experienced all that a store could provide. But my wife, an avid thrift and antique shopper, started dragging me along with her to what she calls her better finds. She was right. Over the past year I've become a somewhat regular at Salvation Army, Goodwill, and a whole host of like merchants. There are some really great items in these stores, and generally, just as the writer states, you're finding often real quality as well as values you're not going to find easily at a mainline store. Great posting.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hey fellow thrift store addict! I'm a bargain shopper...yard sales, thrift stores, Salvation Army...I do them all! To me it's the thrill of the find. I hit the book area first, $1.99 is my kind of price!

      Fun hub! Looking forward to the follow:)


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