Sep 23 2009

Making the rounds at area thrift stores

Meredith made an appearance on Frugal Hacks and blogged about Goodwill Outlets. There isn’t one of those near me, and I’m not sure if I have the guts to ever dive into one. I know that some deals can be had by the pound, but I prefer to take my time when thrift shopping. I don’t know that I’d want to fight over any item.

Her post got me to thinking about some of my own thrifting.

I’ve been making the rounds to my area’s thrift stores lately, and wow, do I love it. For awhile, I had gotten away from thrifting, since I hadn’t really needed anything. When I don’t need to buy anything, I find that it’s best for me to just stay out of stores — first and second-hand.

I want to check out all the thrift and consignment stores in my vicinity just to know what types of things they have and at what price. Some stores won’t be worth a second visit, but one thrift store (the St. Vincent de Paul on Rt. 88 in Castle Shannon, if you’re a local) will keep me coming back. I don’t know how many Pittsburgh readers I have (so you’d better comment or e-mail me!) and if there’s enough interest, I’ll blog about my favorite stores (Sue, I already know you’d like a post on this!).

St. Vincents has a special discount each day. Thursdays are half-off ladies’ clothing and Saturdays are $0.99 tag days. They pick a tag color, and the garment is less than a buck. What a deal!

Some of my favorite recent finds:

  • A brown corduroy jacket that had  been on my wish-list. It was marked $9.99 but I picked it up on a dollar day. It was in like-new condition and fit well. I did have to get it dry-cleaned, which set me back about $4.50. It hasn’t been cool enough to wear yet, but those days are a-comin’.
  • Gap dark wash straight-legged jeans — a slim cut jean has been on my list so I can wear them tucked inside my boots. They were size 6L — I need that L! And they were $7. I didn’t want to wait for half-off day, so I snapped them up at full price. A little on the expensive side for thrift store denim, but that’s because this one differentiates between “upscale” and not. Lol!
  • A new-with-tags maternity skirt. It was originally $20, and I got it for $1. No, I’m not pregnant. But my friend is! And I’m about to take her a big ol’ box of maternity clothes for her to borrow. And honestly, the way the skirt is cut, I think a non-preggo can wear it without looking ridiculous.

When you find the right thrift or consignment store for your wardrobe needs, it’s easy to go bananas and buy a lot more than you need. Prices are usually low enough that you can take a risk and buy something you might not buy were it in a department store at regular price.

Remember, it’s not a deal if the item doesn’t fit you (or if you vow to have it tailored, and can do so easily and cheaply). It’s not a deal if you’ll never wear it. Be sure you have at least two to three things you can wear with any particular shirt, pant, skirt, etc. And if it languishes in your closet, unworn all season, send it back to the thrift store. You won’t get your money back, but at least it won’t be taking up valuable space in your closet.

If there’s anything in your closet that you wouldn’t buy (again) at a thrift store, purge it already!

Keep to your budget, your list and overall mission.

I won’t buy secondhand shoes unless they’re new and fit perfectly — and that hasn’t happened yet. It’s rare when I find pants that fit me well (isn’t that the case for everyone?) so when I find some that fit and I like, I get ’em. Mostly, I find skirts, jackets and cardigans at thrift stores. Other things are harder for me to find in the tall size I need, so I head to a regular retailer or go online for those.

If you don’t shop at secondhand stores, tell me why! And if you do, what are some of your favorite finds?



15 Responses to “Making the rounds at area thrift stores”

  1. Ooh I am a thrift store junkie. Like you, I’ve been staying out of them lately because we don’t need anything and I tend to go overboard. We’ve been trying to get rid of things, not add to them! ;)
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Procrastination Costs Money, Time, and Energy =-.

  2. I would LOVE to shop more at thrift stores, but I’ve just never had this kind of luck! I’ve tried in the past, and I look and look and never find anything in my size/not bright neon pink or otherwise horrible. Is there a particular season when you’ve had the most luck? I would love some tips on when to find the best finds!
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Bye bye, cable =-.

  3. I don’t shop for clothes but for books. With the average non-fiction going for thirty bucks and currently no job, used is the only way i can get decent reading. Our local library is good for fiction but non-fiction is short and not really current.

  4. I think once you find a promising store, you just have to go there often. Maybe a few times per week to get a sense of how quickly they move products. Sometimes I go to my favorite store and walk out empty-handed, and other days I have several things. I guess it depends on when people my size donate! Heh.

    My advice? Go to several stores in your area and visit often if you can. If you still don’t have any luck, seek out consignment shops. A little more expensive, but might have more of what you’re seeking.

  5. Karen- I go to a thrift store in a nicer area of town, where the “rich people” live. That’s where I seem to have the most luck. When thrifting, you have to go a lot if you are looking for something in particular. :) Good luck!

    And Kacie- you are a skinny little peanut, so no wonder you can’t find pants. ;)
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Procrastination Costs Money, Time, and Energy =-.

  6. Oh, a 6 at Gap is like a 10 anywhere else. I’m slim but I’m no peanut. Heh!

  7. I found a designer baby bag for $10! Score! Not a whole lot of clothes for me but a lot for Libby. A friend of mine did tell me it’s difficult to find boy’s clothes in good condition used and that made me laugh. :) So far baby girl clothes are cute and plentiful!
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..8ish Months –updated– =-.

  8. Sigh, I wish I had more time to go to the thrift stores. But it is best for me to stay out of them, because I do buy things I don’t really need. It is just a fun thing to do. In fact, when Mr. A and I go out on a date night, I would just as soon go to a couple of thrift stores instead of eating out or going to a movie. :-) He goes off to the sections he likes, and I go to the ones I like. Alas, he does have his limits to how long he’s willing to hang around and it does take a while to find good stuff when it comes to clothing. I don’t know if I would like the Goodwill outlets, they sound too crazy, like the stories I’ve heard about the basement discount deals back East. It does sounds like you found some great deals!
    .-= Mrs. Accountability´s last blog ..$500 in Prescriptions – Payment Denied =-.

  9. Yeah! I’m getting a new maternity skirt! Thanks Kacie. I’ve never been a big thrift store shopper, mostly because I don’t have the drive to do all the searching through the racks. It has recently come to my attention that I’ve done very little clothes shopping in the last 5 years. I will be in total wardrobe revamp mode once I’ve lost the baby weight from this pregnancy, and I’d like to do more of that shopping at thrift stores. That ought to be interesting with 2 kiddos in tow.

  10. I don’t love the Goodwill near you, but I *did* find some nice NWT maternity things there. You should stop in once in awhile to see what they have! And next spring/summer, I’ll be happy to brave the thrift stores with you and all the kiddos! Twill be fun.

  11. I came across your blog via a link to this post. :)

    Having seen Meredith’s great deals she gets on children’s clothes, I was excited to try my own luck at dressing my daughter in thrift-store finds. However, after trudging through four thrift stores and walking out disappointed each time, I am not too anxious to keep looking for thrift stores! The children’s clothing racks at the stores I’ve visited are very sparse. No dresses (which is what I was looking for specifically) and very little of anything else. I did find a 2T jumper that looked like it was new. (My daughter is size 9 mo.) It puts me in a frustrating spot because I need clothes for my daughter and can’t find them used! I resorted to going to a higher-priced consignment store where at least I was able to find some adorable dresses.

    So while I don’t mind the thought of thrift store shopping, it just hasn’t worked out well for me lately! I’m still willing to give it a go, but I’m going to have to find a decent thrift store to shop at!
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..~Blueberry Picking, and general rambling~ =-.

  12. Hi Tammy,

    I should say that I, too, don’t have much luck at thrift stores for baby’s clothing. Instead, I go to consignment sales. In fact, I’m going to one later today at a church! The prices are higher than what you’d find at a yard sale, but if you don’t have much time to shop those, it can be helpful to do a one-stop shop.

    There’s a kids consignment shop near me that offers $5 bag clearance Fridays. Fill a bag with clearance goods and pay only $5!

    Look around for places like those for your children, but maybe thrift stores can help your own wardrobe.

  13. The Red White and Blue store on 51 in Pittsburgh is my favorite resale store. Very nice items and everything is organized very well. The only downside is that they have no dressing rooms to try anything on. I just had a baby two weeks ago, so I haven’t had much time to go anywhere lately. We did stop at the Goodwill on McKnight Road in North Hills over the weekend and my 14 year old step-son picked out 4 pairs of jeans for $5.99 each. Not bad, considering we were on our way to Plato’s closet where the same Abercrombie and American Eagle jeans he got at Goodwill sell for $18 and up.

  14. I am a huge thrift stire junkie as well. I tend to go overboard as the rest of you but I found a new rule I must apply. When I bring a new item or article of clothing, I get rid of one, or even two. It promotes you to get rid of things that you are not going to use. If I haven’t worn it in a year, it goes. (another rule)
    I pride myself on my findings, as I get many compliments on the purses, clothing, shoes boots and jewelery I find at such discount pricing. I get people wanting to go thrifting that never went before! It’s also a very cheap way to update your wardrobe and accessories, and household items.
    My brother threatens to make me a licence plate, “thrift store junkie”. I said that is ok with me. I will go out of my way to go to a thrift store before I will go to the mall! I must go shopping now, I m looking for a used microwave oven. Keep on thrifting ladies!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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