The Thrill of Thrift Shopping

There was time when I found secondhand shops distasteful. Everything seemed dingy and damaged. Why would people pay (even a little) for other people’s junk?

Now thrift shops are my first stop for clothing, household items, toys and much, much more. Why this shift? Once I gained the patience to search harder for treasures, I realized the huge payoff for buying secondhand. Beyond the environmental benefit, we support a charity every time we shop and end up scoring stuff for about 75% less than department store prices.

This weekend was no exception. We headed off to Goodwill to search for Hotwheels cars (my budget-savvy six-year-old already realizes he can get more for his money at a secondhand shop), a coat for my daughter, and a bike helmet for my son.

We found a deep purple, London Fog jacket (with the tags still on) for my daughter for $4.00. As you can see, it was love at first sight for her. We also found a perfect Hotwheels bike helmet for $4.00. (The exact coat and bike helmet are pictured below.) A set of two Hotwheels cars brought the total to $9.00

How much would my total have been at a department store? The coat retails for $29.95 and the helmet sells for $19.95. With the Hotwheels cars the total would have been over 50 dollars!

I don’t always find just what I’m looking for right away, but I do buy items in advance and keep track of upcoming needs for my family. If it doesn’t end up working out, I just send it back to another thrift shop, knowing that at least my mistake helped support a good cause.

Other treasures? My beautiful green angora sweater, which also still had the tags on, purchased for $2.50. My Banana Republic jeans for just $3.00 and loads of other brand name duds, most of which I buy on half-price days.

I love that my kids have a huge comfort zone with buying used and that they may even stick with secondhand shopping in their teen years and later in adulthood. When I think of all the money I could have saved, I can’t believe I didn’t start thrifting sooner!

Do you frequent secondhand shops or are you still turned off by the whole idea? Do you like to stick to online outlets like Ebay or Craigslist?


  1. I admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve scoured thrift shops (or at least found anything good), but I do agree that it’s probably the wiser way to go. My style tends to be to just wait until something I want at the department store or regular retail stores goes on sale or clearance, and then I swoop in. But lately, even sales don’t seem to be that great; I have a feeling that they jack up prices and then lower it by a small percentage and simply call it a “sale”.

    You’ve reignited my interest in trying out thrift shops again!

  2. Christina Wall says

    Yes! I love them. We have a children’s consignment shop about a block away that I both sell and buy from. They have a $1 section that I have secured a bunch of outfits for my soon-to-be twins. I also buy most of my 3-year old daughter’s stuff there. Beyond the savings, the thing I love the most is the often uniqueness of the stuff…she doesn’t look like every other kid out there because her stuff is often from a couple of seasons ago….same with toys. I love finding old school, well-made toys there.

  3. I’ve been a thrift shopper since I was in my teens–among my friends, scoring finds at Goodwill was just the cool thing to do (we were private school kids but not rich country-club kids so I think it was our form of backlash against the “popular” girls). I, too, recently got a London Fog rain jacket with hood and liner at Goodwill–for $6.50 as it was the half-price color tag that day! My son loves the local thrift shops too and most of his toys and clothes come from there (which is probably why we have too many of both, LOL).

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