Excellent Reasons for Shopping at Thrift Stores
Many of us donate items regularly to thrift shops. We do it because we want to support the associated cause, help others that may be struggling to stretch a limited income, or we just want a charitable deduction for our tax return.
A recent article in a Sedona, AZ newspaper pointed out that many tourists that return annually frequent the local thrift shops. In addition to the usual reasons for thrift shopping, many looked for items that weren’t available back home. They found items in Sedona that they couldn’t get at home and they found them at a discount, to boot.
Thrift, resale, second-hand, consignment shop, or whatever you call it, here are some reasons we should all shop at thrift stores.
1. To Support Charitable Causes
Many thrift shops are operated by charitable or non-profit organizations. Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are in almost every town. Local churches, hospitals, and private schools often have resale shops to support their causes.
We know that donating items to these organizations will help support them. We can support them even more by shopping there, too.
True, not all resale shops are associated with a non-profit; some are actually for-profit businesses, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use them. Many for-profit thrift stores do share some profits with local charities, and even if they don’t, they do prevent usable from going directly to the landfill.
2. To Save Money
People with limited financial resources often use thrift stores and re-sale shops to stretch their budgets. Isn’t frugal living a good idea for everyone? Why should anyone pay more for something than they have to just because they can? Instead of paying full price or even a sale price for a new item, you might get the same or similar item at a resale shop at a steep discount.
If you cut coupons, hunt for deals, buy in bulk, or have other frugal habits, doesn’t it make sense that you would also look for bargains at a charity shop? Money not spent—regardless of where you don’t spend it—is money you can save for other goals or use for other expenses.
3. To Reduce Waste and Help Save the Environment
According to definitions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, salesclerks at thrift shops have “Green Jobs.” That’s right: These are environmentally friendly jobs since these stores collect and recycle items that would otherwise be waste.
When people donate items which others purchase, they are keeping these items out of a landfill. Everyone involved is helping the environment. The items purchased can be reused or new uses can be found for them.
My son’s girlfriend will take old ties and create fashionable purses with them. Those old Father’s Day gifts get recycled into something beautiful and useful.
4. You’ll Find Gently Used or Never Used Bargains
The items my wife and I donate are gently used and still have plenty of life in them. We donate them because we don’t have a use for them anymore. Some people donate items that are essentially new, occasionally still with tags on them.
The are countless stories of people buying high-end clothing or accessories at a resale shop at a fraction of the cost of buying new. You can get the status item without the status price.
My wife found a used Janome sewing machine for $15 in a second hand store. $20 for a new bobbin and a minor repair and she had a sewing machine that would have cost several hundred dollars new. Unlike the new sewing machine I bought her when we were first married, she actually uses this one.
5. To Buy Items You May Not Use Much
Have you ever needed an item for a special occasion or a job but didn’t want to purchase it new? If you’re having a party and need a punch bowl or a few large platters, or if you’re looking for a special tool or small appliance, check out the local resale shop. Yes, you could try to borrow it from your neighbor, but he is still mad because you didn’t return his drill for three weeks the last time you borrowed it. You could try renting the item, but someone has to have it for rent, and renting isn’t always cheap.
At your local thrift shop, you may be able to pick up that item at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new or renting. When you are done with it, you can lend it to your neighbor or donate it back to the resale shop.
6. One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
People like to browse at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and auctions for hidden treasures. A crystal vase, a valuable painting, an expensive watch, or some other hidden gem could be hiding among all of the everyday items in the store. What the donor may not have recognized may be your chance to score a real treasure.
We have a friend that collects Fiesta dinnerware. It is expensive to buy at Macy’s and could be very costly to get a set of 6 or 8 place settings. By regularly picking up a piece or two at auction, a couple more at a flea market or resale shop, she has cobbled together a large set at a fraction of the cost.
7. If You Forget Something on Vacation
Ever go on vacation and forget to bring something? Maybe you got there and realized the weather was warmer or colder than you expected? Perhaps you even planned on just picking up an item at your destination rather than lugging it from home? Admit it, we’ve all done it.
Often, we’ll just run to the first store—any store—and purchase something we don’t like, something that’s an ugly color, doesn’t really fit, or worse yet, isn’t on sale. Why not check out a thrift store for that light jacket or sweater you didn’t bring? Need a dress or a sport coat for an unplanned dinner out? Check a resale store before you pick up a new item.
8. To Find Unusual Items You May Not Find Near Home
Items that may not be common in your hometown could be common and inexpensive where you are vacationing. Maybe you live in a warm climate but would like to pick up a nice sweater or long sleeve shirt: Check out a resale shop the next time you travel in the north. Items common in the desert southwest are not easy to find in New England. You’ll find a larger selection of used skis in Colorado or Vermont than you will in Florida or Texas.
9. To Buy Exercise Equipment
Thrifts, resale shops, and consignment stores are full of items originally bought with the best of intentions. Exercise equipment is a good example. Retail stores know that everyone makes New Year’s resolutions and many of them are related to exercise and weight loss. New exercise equipment goes on sale in December and January to take advantage of these good intentions.
People buy this equipment with the intention of starting the New Year off with an exercise and/or weight reduction program. You know as well as I do, these plans often fall by the wayside. The exercise equipment is left to collect dust or piles of dirty clothes. The odometer on the exercise bike sits frozen in time at 7 miles. Eventually this equipment ends up at a resale or consignment shop. This is your opportunity to pick up good, nearly new equipment at a fraction of the original cost.