Thrift Store Clothes Shopping

I was asked recently (not very nicely I might add) why I would ever buy clothes from a thrift store. At that moment (because I was caught off guard and didn’t want to be rude back) I didn’t respond the way I wanted too. Now I have a good response and thought I would share it with all of you.

I like brand name clothes. They seem to be better made and last longer for the most part.

I don’t have enough money to spend on brand name clothes right now. Hubby was out of work for a few months and we have other things as a priority (like food and shelter).

You can get some awesome clothes at thrift stores if you take the time to look.

Here’s the list of brand name clothes I bought on my last excursion to Savers (on Veterans Day): Levis, Gap, Aeropostale, Urban Pipline, Quick Silver, Banana Republic, Crazy 8, Dockers, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer, Worthington, and Hollister.

Not bad for $42. Yep, 42 Dollars! And 2 of the pieces still had store tags on them.

Here are some of my secrets while shopping for clothing at thrift stores:

Go often – once a week if you can.

Don’t buy something just because it’s a good price – even if it was only $3, if you’re not going to wear it you’ve just wasted that money.

Know your sizes – keep a list of all the sizes in your family (shoes too). I bought Zach some almost new Nike’s for only $3 because I knew his size.

Try to go without your kids – it usually takes about an hour (sometimes more) to find the good deals.

Go on the half-off sale days and get there early – as in, when the doors open.

If you’re not sure you want something, put it in your basket – you can always put it back later if you decide not to purchase it.

Go with a friend – tell each other what you’re looking for. It doubles your chances of finding some good stuff.

Here’s a few more tips:

Carry hand sanitizer – it is a thrift store.

I don’t try the clothes on – I’m a clean freak and I worry about bugs and stuff. If I’m not sure on a size I hold them up to me. Most stores have a return policy for store credit. I’ve only ever returned 1 thing.

Wash the clothes as soon as you get home – if you can’t wash the clothes right away, place them in a garbage bag and leave them in the garage.

Some of my favorite clothes have come from thrift stores and unless I tell someone they never know. I also get a sense of satisfaction when I can buy 16 pieces of clothing for less than a pair of pants from the Gap.

How do you feel about clothes shopping at thrift stores? Please be nice (or I will delete you) I’ve already had my fill of rude people.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Ali November 21, 2011, 11:46 pm

    I think shopping at thrift stores for clothing is a fantastic way to save money but to get quality clothing. I donate clothing a lot, and lots of them are almost new. I think some people can just be ignorant and stick their nose up at things they do not understand.

  • NaDell November 22, 2011, 12:02 am

    I LOVE thrift stores. We always shopped there (and from regular store clearance racks) when I was a kid. My mom taught me well to spot the signs of a good sale! I have a favorite thrift store that sells infant (up to age 2 or so) clothes for a dollar each and my eight year old daughter’s jeans are just $2 and they are thick nice ones from the Gap or Target. She always wears out the knees because she plays HARD and her little sister wears dresses everyday, so I usually cut them into shorts in the spring anyway. I don’t usually buy my clothes at thrift stores anymore, but I find pretty great deals at Kohl’s for me (on super clearance of course!)
    I second the washing thrift store clothes right away…and then check the pockets for money ’cause you NEVER know!
    Oh, and plenty of people only have one or two kids and don’t want to hang on to anything or hassle with ebay or craigslist and just donate their stuff instead. It’s the best!

  • Rachel F. November 22, 2011, 12:08 am

    I love thrift stores! My hubby is the bread winner, and with 2 kids and me staying at home with them, the thrift stores are the way to go. I can’t see spending $40 on jeans for a child that will grow out of them so quick. It’s better for us to pick up a few pieces cheap, and then I generally donate them back to the store. I have also picked up brand new with tags pieces. Plus I’m cheap, I can’t stand paying more than $10 for pants, and $5 for shirts for me. With everything going up in price (a gallon of milk over $3 a gallon, and organic which I buy is $3 for a 1/2 gallon), you have to cut corners somewhere.

  • Comeca November 22, 2011, 12:24 am

    I am with you I love a deal! For school and Christmas I buy all name brands Ralph Lauren Polo, American Eagle, Old Navy you name it. A good washing and starching lol and we are set! The only thing I really purchase for full cost are the jeans because they are all pretty particular about the way they fit. Last weeks haul 36.00 and some change and ya know what, Polo’s for 3.99 Its a deal all day long!!!My boys are 17 ,18 and my girls 19, and hey they love name brand and I love them so I accommodate them but I do it on a budget because I have four kids in all its a must! Oh Btw haircuts are 12.00 to 25.00 apiece depending on where you are and the kids haircuts were pulling at the purse strings too so what did I do?!…bought them clippers and they learned to cut their own hair, best purchase I ever made my purse strings can tell ya that! Wherever one can save for the good of the family do that!!

  • Amanda November 22, 2011, 1:11 am

    Some people are just too snobby! The price of some things at full retail price is ridiculous, especially items for babies and toddlers, if you can save a little here and there, why not go for it! When you buy items from the retail stores, you never know how many people have tried them on before you purchased it, you don’t see people getting all silly about those!

  • Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage November 22, 2011, 5:01 am

    I could have written this post myself Leanne! We are name brand clothes people. So I get them at thrift stores, consignment stores, good will, yard sales, where ever I can find them. There are consignment stores here that carry name brand only for teen and adults. Some prices are too steep there but there are deals. I love a great deal! I would say 95% of my clothes came second hand or off of the clearance rack. I have a problem paying full price!

  • Rachael November 22, 2011, 6:18 am

    I love thrift stores! I’m sorry you have had negative comments. I have to admit, there was a time I wondered why anyone would want to shop at a thrift store… But I was introduced to thrift shopping by a very awesome friend. Today, I love it! I wish I had time to do it more! I love finding deals on clothes, not to mention jars and other things to do craft projects with! Thanks for sharing!

  • Shannon November 22, 2011, 6:50 am

    I, too, shop at thrift stores. We live in a limited area when it comes to stores – no Anthropologie! no IKEA, etc. – BUT we also have two military bases within 10 miles of each other. When people get relocated, they tend to drop tons of stuff off that we wouldn’t normally “see” – or at least not in the volume. And as you mentioned, often it’s new items with tags still on as how often do the average of us clean to the back of the dungeon closet if you’re NOT moving? 🙂

    I would add one thing to your list – surgical gloves. I keep a box of the Walgreens brand in the car as often I pop by if I have time to kill between one errand and another. I still wash my hands of course, but if I need to scratch or blow my nose (sometimes the different perfumes from the clothes hit me hard) I don’t need to run to the bathroom and boil my hand first. 🙂

    As for those who snub thrift shopping, most of the time I don’t tell people (outside of good friends that is). It’s just easier because many DO have a complex. If someone asks, I offer up the brand name if I know it, otherwise I claim “closet rotation”. I mean, even if you buy something new, how do you know how many people have/haven’t tried it on befoe? Didn’t buy it, take it home, put it on naked, return it? All that said, I do draw the line at thrifted underwear. No offense to those who buy it but that DOES make my skin crawl…

  • Christa November 22, 2011, 7:15 am

    I don’t get out to thrift stores very often and don’t have anything against them. The stores around us have shirts for about $2, ALL shirts, no matter what the name brand. So yes, you can get great deals. We love to go to garage sales. Just about every piece of the kids clothing is used, whether thrift store, yard sale or hand me down. Why pay full price when they will outgrow it or wear it out in less than a year? I love saving money, gives me great satisfaction to find a good deal. I just blogged about an awesome deal I found on some matching girls dresses at a garage sale, and one still had the tags!

  • Mrs.B November 22, 2011, 9:15 am

    Thrift stores are awesome!

  • Diane November 22, 2011, 9:19 am

    I have been shopping thrift stores for all 34 years of my marriage for clothing and household goods. I’ve done this due to budget, because I enjoy the hunt and finding a great deal, I like reusing rather than acquiring everything new, and if I change my mind I have not invested a great deal to start with. Still, it does take time that is sometimes unfruitful (but truly so does shopping for new). It isn’t for everyone. Gratefully it is not a moral issue in and of itself. We can have right or wrong focus no matter how we steward what we have been given. Let’s encourage each other to consider need vs. want as well as stewardship and generosity. If thrifting allows us to maintain a right heart in these things that’s wonderful.

  • Meg Faulkner November 22, 2011, 10:37 am

    Great topic, and great comments back! For the most part, people are people and their used stuff isn’t any creepier than your own. Why not save money, donate to a cause (most thrift stores support charitable organizations), keep stuff out of landfills AND be able to enjoy your retail therapy without guilt? Thrift stores are a great resource and people who turn their noses up are missing out.

  • Alicia Smith Turley November 22, 2011, 10:59 am

    I love shopping at thrift stores. My friend and I call it “The Boutique” I have 5 children, three of them boys, and “The Boutique” is my go-to place for summer shorts, t-shirts, and sports wear.
    As for the haters, some people have more money than sense.
    Thanks for sharing,

  • Karan November 22, 2011, 11:29 am

    I love thrift store shopping. Usaed to get almost all my work clothes from thrift stores. I worked in a commercial kitchen and nothing is more frustrating to go pay 20.00 for a top to get grease splattered on it or bleach splashed on it. So I saved those things for non work times. Now retired I still keep a few of those things around to wear when I volunteer in the kitchen I worked in or just for cleaning around the house ( or crafting)

    I have picked up some awesome deals. A few years ago I found a set of 8 Christmas plates. I paid a little over 2.00 for the 8 of them I planned on using them as gift plates for cookies til I got to researching them and found they were 56.00 a plate. I liked them so well I used them last Christmas for our table.


  • Karen November 22, 2011, 11:30 am

    I have been shopping thrift stores for years. I get many compliments on my “finds” and there are those who are shocked to hear where the item was purchased : ) I love a good bargain and like you, I look at labels and have found some fabulous deals for my closet and home. It’s funny … many friends who were skeptical are now dedicated thrift store shoppers. Thanks for sharing!

  • jamie November 22, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Leanne, I think this is a recent thing for you? I thought you used to say you don’t do thrift clothes??? And I was the same way when you said that. But I have also had a change of heart. The Nate Berkus show is one of my favorites and has inspired me to save money on clothes. 🙂 I still like new, nice shoes for my bad back. But otherwise, I have been working the consignment stores and thrift stores. I think I am saving tons! I say good for you! Those are great finds. And I even try on in store, gasp!

  • Candice November 22, 2011, 3:05 pm

    What is wrong with some people? Like it’s anyone’s business where you shop and buy clothes!! Rude. I love thrift store shopping. And if I find a cute shirt for me or my kids for pennies on the dollar at the thrift store- then yay for me! More money to spend somewhere else. It’s funny that people will buy “antiques” but snub thrift stores. Um yeah, antiques are previously owned too. Good for you for shopping where it works best for you and your family, despite what others think!!!

  • Rockzann November 22, 2011, 3:09 pm

    It’s posts like this one that make me love you!

    In this economy a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Thrift stores, clearance racks, hand me downs,etc. those are all budget savers and a fun way to satisfy the shopping bug. I’ll buy all the rude peoples cast offs and put my savings into a retirement fund. When they are eating cat food in their old age they will be jealous (and probably still rude) of my amazing wardrobe and full pantry.

  • Gina November 22, 2011, 7:58 pm

    LOVE thrift shopping and finding those good deals and I have been doing it for ages. My kids had no idea that most of their clothes came from thrift shops. Once they are cleaned and pressed, who would? I couldn’t jsutify spending the same amount at Wally world and getting far less quality. I’ll never forget the look on my neighbor’s face when I showed her the BRAND NEW REI coat I got for my daughter in her favorite color for, get this…$2.49. Awesome. On another trip I got brand new Doc Marten sandals for $3. No joke. It was half price shoes day (:

  • Suzie November 23, 2011, 12:05 am

    I love thrift shopping (we call them op-shop here in Australia), I have got a few great buys clothing wise. But I love it for things like picture frames & housewares like glass storage jars. Prices are fantastic & you are usually also helping a charity continue to provide vital services in the community. I am going op-shopping with a bunch of girls from my church’s preteen mentoring group in a couple of weeks, alot of these girls have never been op-shopping & don’t know the great stuff you can get at such cheap prices. It is going to be so much fun!

  • Laura November 23, 2011, 10:48 am

    I Thrift all the time! i think it is a great idea to save money and also get some great finds you wouldnt normally find at the store like antiques and even building supplies! which is great when you are doing a reno! but i do not think you should be scared about trying anything on. I have worked in retail before and if you are not afraid to try things on at the retail store there is no reason that you should be afraid at a thrift store. many items are returned and tried on at a retail store and have been through many hands before making it to the shelf. I totally understand the underwear and even washing things when you get home, but trying things on is no different than touching a doorknob….however i def would not try on underwear or a bathing suit without something underneath even at a retail store…thats where i draw the line.

  • Sue November 23, 2011, 1:29 pm

    Just yesterday I dropped in on “Customer Appreciation Day” at my fave thrift shop ~ which means everything at 1/2 price! Because I only had 1/2 an hour I did a power browse, tried on 6 items and bought 4 which included a beautiful pink wool cardigan, fabulous pink/brown plaid skirt, dress for my winter holiday and a bathing suit from Victoria Secret!! Total price: $10.96 CDN. Love it , love it!!

  • Tracy Perkins November 27, 2011, 6:25 am

    You have to be kidding me? I don’t know why people do NOT shop at thrift stores! I love op-shopping and the fun of finding something really cute hidden in the racks. Before I got married I used to go at least once a week and I was forever getting compliments on my wardrobe. Now I have the fun of op-shopping for three! I think the biggest plus to op-shopping is that you often find things that are unusual, from overseas (at least, here in Australia we do!) or designer brands, the kind of things that you’d never get if you were buying from a boring ole store. I reckon people who pooh-pooh op-shops probably aren’t that creative, they’re the kind of people who buy signs and notebooks and new nightstands while we’re gleefully throwing paint around and brandishing hot glue guns 🙂

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