I love Goodwill and go shopping there whenever I need some “retail therapy.” I usually leave with several bags of items and rarely spend over $25. I have found great designer items with the tags still on them and over the last few years as my daughter has lived in a variety of dorm rooms and off campus apartments, she and I have found treasures for her room as well as practical items such as desks, chairs and curtains.
If you have never shopped at Goodwill, you should give it a try before you head out for your back to school shopping. You can locate your closest Goodwill store HERE and read more about their mission.
Here are some great tips for you from a blogger who set out to visit Goodwill stores in all 50 states in an RV. Her blog is called All Thrifty States, isn’t that a great name? This would be an amazing adventure for me, but I would need a different husband to make this trip with me!
Thrifting tips for newbies
- In my experience, if a thrift store is located in a strip mall with, or in close proximity to, businesses geared toward other cultures, it’s probably a good one.
- My method is fabric, tag, size, condition–FTSC. Walking along if I see a fabric I like, I stop, check the tag, size and condition. It helps you cut through the colors and fabrics you’d naturally pass over in your closet when you get your items home and avoiding buying things you wouldn’t wear in everyday life.
- Be aware of discount days and sales at your local stores. Some offer a discount on certain days, certain items, certain tag colors or offer VIP cards to save all the time. Showing up on the right day can mean the difference between that perfect full price $20 thrift store find–or the same thing at a discount for $5.
- Try on everything if at all possible. Stains, holes, missing buttons and broken zippers are common candidates for the donation pile. If you have the fabulous sewing skills to fix them, even better!
- Many stores these days are organized by color or size, making finding those perfect items that much easier.
- If you’re new to this, start off easy. Go in knowing what brands you like and what sizes you usually wear in them. It’ll make it a lot easier to pass on things and limit your time in the sometimes unwelcoming dressing rooms.
- Take a buddy –or better yet, a SIZE buddy–and look for stuff you’d see the other person wearing as well as yourself and have them do the same. Double trouble, half the time!
- Don’t be afraid to look at linens, appliances and other items. There are a lot of hidden gems in there and stores often pre-check items or offer a place to plug things in to try them out yourself.
- Go in with a lot of time and most of all, be patient. There’s a lot to pick through and you have to look at things carefully, but quickly. It might take an hour for you to find just one item, but it’ll be well worth it.
- If you’re scared of thrifting because of the ick factor, get over it. Bring a bottle of sanitizer and wash your purchases when you get home. I’ve been doing this for years and if I haven’t brought home any ungodly illness or panty-cricket infestation yet, it’s a pretty fair bet you won’t either.
- For some weird reason, lots of people seem to cut the tags out of their clothes, maybe because they’re scratchy, or maybe because of vanity. Either way, it makes it difficult for thrifters to figure out what sizes and brand things are. But if you look closely, there are clues. Looking at jeans? Most jeans have the maker’s name pressed into the front brass button. There are often yardsticks posted around the store or available for sale. When in doubt, try it on!
- See that rack getting wheeled out of the back? That’s a batch of FRESH donations about to be filed into the racks you’ve been sifting through. Start here! It’s your best bet for greatness in a short amount of time.
- Look how your favorite stores are accessorizing their clothes. I like to look at catalogs like JCrew and Urban Outfitters and see how they’re accessorizing their outfits. So many of their “current trend” items that they sell for top dollar can be easily duplicated in a thrift store if you know what you’re looking for. A simple belt, bag, scarf or necklace can bring a blah blouse already in your closet into high style.
- College towns are a great place to thrift. With students constantly moving, changing styles, gaining and losing weight (raising hand…….), they’re a great place to find great stuff in a great variety of sizes.
- Looking for vintage stuff? Go where the old people are! When I lived in Florida, also known as God’s waiting room, it was VINTAGE THRIFTING HEAVEN! Gorgeous vintage glassware, dresses, I even found pieces of great 50’s and 60’s print fabric in pristine condition. God love those time-warp decorating crafty old ladies!
Any other Goodwill fans out there? Do you want to go on that RV trip with me? Let’s go! Visiting Goodwill stores in other parts of the county is an education, plus FUN!
More With Less Today tip- I live in southern California and my family lives in New England. I bought a winter coat and snow boots at a Goodwill store in Connecticut during one of my visits and I leave them stored in my mom’s basement. I don’t have to stuff my winter gear in my suitcase every time I visit. I just bundle up in a few sweatshirts or sweaters until I get there.
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