Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Frugal Tuesday Tip: Shop at Thrift Stores

Thrift store shopping is so much fun! It's almost like Christmas for me because I never know what I'm going to find when I go into a shop. Everything from the really strange and gross (used underwear, eww..) to the really cool and useful can be had at a thrift store. I have an ex who used to comb the thrift stores for old rotary dial telephones and he always found them because the largest inventory of stuff in thrift stores comes from the families of people who've died. And, more often than not, those dead people were really old and they had some really old stuff laying about. Like rotary phones.

Today, I set out to find some deals for my Ebaying and got a bicycle, a home hair dryer, a double-sided easel, lots of clothes, a Baby Bjorn infant carrier, and a truck for Bubba. I spent $70. I'll let that sink in.

At any rate, shopping at thrift stores is a whole lot of fun and it saves you a ton of money. Just remember a few simple rules:
  • Go Early. Try to go during the week because stores do get busy on the weekends and you might miss the good stuff if you wait until Sunday afternoon.

  • Shop with a purpose. If you're looking for pots and pans, then have something in mind that you want. Otherwise you'll buy the first thing that looks good. And it probably won't boil an egg.

  • Consignment stores are not thrift stores. The merchandise is usually all of a certain type (children's wear, evening wear, etc.) and the prices are higher to ensure both the store and consignee make a profit.

That's it. Pretty simple. Also, if at all possible, shop thrift stores that contribute to a nonprofit. My favorite store is the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store because proceeds go towards the construction of Habitat homes within the community. They also have some really good deals -- like spacesaver microwaves for $50. No, they're not in new condition but it's not a store that specializes in new goods. That would be a department store or Target. The Re-store even has building materials like tile and interior doors at a deep discount!

So, please consider purchasing items from your local thrift store. We all have junk but you know how the saying goes: one person's trash is another person's good buy.

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