I recently visited my long-time friend Jessica for a weekend in Ft. Worth. Thrifting has long been one of our favorite things to do together, and we couldn't pass up another opportunity! I had saved some extra spending money just for the trip so I came away with quite a haul, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite reasons to shop second-hand (and why you should, too):
More for your money.
It's no secret that second-hand shopping is cheaper than buying things new in retail stores (although sometimes those clearance racks have some pretty great bargains). With everything from home decor, to clothing, linens, books, and items for your kitchen, you could outfit your entire home in thrifted finds.
My favorite things to shop for at thrift stores and garage sales are clothes, books, and home decor. I know some people may have an aversion to buying used clothing (you definitely want to wash everything first). You're not always going to find the latest trends in the thrift store, but sometimes you luck out and find pretty recent items. I often find brand named clothing that I normally wouldn't be able to afford at retail prices. And kids clothes are a gold mine in second-hand shops. Kids grow out of their clothes so fast, people are eager to pass them on. You can often find next to new clothes, especially if you shop at consignment shops dedicated to children's clothing (you can find my favorite kids consignment shop in S.A. here).
I always spend a good ten minutes perusing the bookshelves. Most books can be found for $2 or less, my favorite finds are vintage and chunky board books for children. Children's books are usually the cheapest, and I always have a stock of old favorites (in nearly mint condition) to give as gifts.
Home decor items are always overflowing in thrift stores, and if you're a little handy, you can add a layer of paint or fix something up with a bit of glue and it'll fit right in with the rest of your home.
If you're an eco-conscious person, then there's no reason you shouldn't be buying used. Buying anything used not only keeps that item from ending up in a landfill, but it also helps cut down on the demand for newer products and the environmental damage which occurs in making that item. And did you know that many items that you buy new (including clothing) contain chemicals--like formaldehyde--to keep them stain and wrinkle free as well as flame resistant?
We bought our nearly new HE washer and dryer for about half the original cost off of Craigslist. Most of the furniture in our home was either given to us by friends and family or bought second-hand as well, keeping them from being dumped into our landfills. And if you have old furniture yourself, find out where to donate or recycle it in your city.
Supports local charity.
Many thrift shops are connected with some sort of local charity organization. Last year, Goodwill spent 84% of it's revenue to help over 170,000 people find jobs along with the other services they provide. The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabiliation Centers are 100% funded from the proceeds of their Family Stores. Local churches often hold annual garage sales to support their ministries. And shopping at garage sales puts a little extra cash in your neighbor's pocket.
Thrill of the hunt.
For all you coupon-clipping, sale-seeking, deal-loving ladies out there, there's no greater thrill than finding an awesome score at a garage sale. I love collecting vintage suitcases to store my craft supplies, and I was over the moon to find the ones above for a total of $2.50! They can go for $20 at antique stores and online. And I love when I can find six new-to-me items of clothing for under $20. With a family of six on a strict budget, I'd much rather shop second-hand first and get as much out of my money as possible.
And here I am with some of my loot after a church sale (they're the best as far as garage sales go). I came away with an umbrella stroller, decorative basket, set of kids books on the presidents, vintage hankies, wooden blocks, a framed embroidery, two suitcases, four kids books, two magazines, and a dress (am I forgetting anything?) all for $21! Granted, not every thrifting excursion is always as fruitful, but here are a couple tips to help you out:
- Don't be afraid to be selective (it's easy to end up with stuff you'll never use).
- Be sure to bargain at tag sales and shop at thrift stores that offer daily discounts.
- Keep a list of things you're on the lookout for.
- If the clothes don't fit, don't buy it--unless you're willing to alter it yourself--it's not a bargain if you don't wear it.
So do I have any fellow thrifters out there? What's your favorite find? Check out TheThriftShopper.com for a list of charity-driven thrift stores near you (there were way more than I thought in my city).