To Thrift or Not to Thrift

We spent last Saturday going through the dressers of seven children, sorting out the clothes that don’t fit or don’t look nice anymore and making an inventory of things each needs to stay cozy and cute this winter.  We even went shopping in the outgrown clothes boxes in the attic, in case we could check anything off our list without spending a dime!  Unfortunately, a large portion of my children have either reached their adult size and no longer outgrow clothes or they are boys.  So we’ll be going shopping.

Alas, I’m a mama with a large family on a small budget, so there is no mall trip in our future.  Luckily, we all enjoy second-hand shops!  For the next few weeks, we’ll be hitting up thrift stores and consignment shops all around us (and there are lots!) in an effort to acquire the clothing we need at the low prices we love.  Whatever we can’t find that way, we’ll look for retail.

Davey turned me on to thrift stores early in our marriage, and we’ve been shopping them for as long as I can remember for all sorts of needs, from furniture to housewares to clothing to books.  It’s like a treasure hunt; you never know what you’re going to find or when you’re going to find it.  Often, you can find things in like-new condition, but even if we go home empty-handed, we still have fun.  On the other hand, my mother, in spite of being in similar financial straits during my childhood, would never set foot in a thrift store.

How about you: Do you buy things second hand at thrift stores, consignment shops or yard sales?

Me, I figure there’s only so much money in our bank account, and the less I have to spend on things we need, the more we can spend on books.  😉

16 Comment

  1. I dislike shopping of all sorts, and often find thrifting frustrating. The occasional really good find is great (like a good quality dress shirt for my son, or a barely worn dress for Faith), but for children, especially, I find most of the items trashy. People must mostly shop in department stores where girls’ clothes look like hooker-wear and boys clothes are cheaply made. I especially used to find it hard to find boys’ clothes because they just wear them out. Now it I find it really hard to buy my sons pants because mens’ pants come in a jillion sizes! I can usually find mens’ casual shirts, however, and that’s worth a shop!

    Good luck!

    1. It is hard to find good quality items for kids, and we usually have better luck for them at consignment shops, where the clothes cost a little more, but they’re screened for wear and stains. Still usually cheaper than new!

  2. KristyB says:

    I occasionally try thrifting, but it also frustrates me. I just do better with a rack of the same thing in varying sizes. If I have time to browse, I see if I can find something, but I usually have trouble. I don’t have much luck with boys pants either because, like the ones I’m replacing, they tend to wear out and so there aren’t many to be found. I try to find things at WalMart, or on the clearance racks of department stores as I find list prices appalling on some items.

    1. Yes, I just assume I’m going to have to get the boys all new pants. They sure are hard on those knees, aren’t they?! 🙂

  3. Jessica says:

    I prefer a good sale. Paul loves to go thrift shopping, but I do not have the patience for it. I do like finding something we love on the clearance tack at the store, but I even don’t enjoy looking through those. Bad, I know. I wish I had more patience when shopping.

    1. I used to do more clearance shopping, but not so much anymore. You usually get the clothes at the end of the season and have to guess ahead for sizes. That works well for the little ones, but not when they’re a bit older! Also, I usually just don’t like the styles. Especially for girls.

  4. I love used book stores, but don’t really frequent thrift stores for clothes or other items. The DV program I volunteer for has a large and successful thrift shop, but I have never really bought anything there (donated lots, though). Sometimes I feel bad buying in thrift stores because I am young and single, and have more disposable income than most folks, so I don’t want to take bargains away from people who need to score them more than I do. I am also a little impatient in searching for bargains. If I need something I have to be able to search through colors and sizes on one rack or just go online and order! But I think the whole thrift concept is great, especially for kids, because sometimes they are in one size merely for a season, so if you can score a good bargain on something being worn for just a couple of months, fantastic! My girlfriends all have young children and they have a great clothing swap going on. A few of them haven’t purchased a coat for their children since they’ve been born, because they’ve gotten great hand me downs from another!

    1. It’s great that there’s a group of moms swapping like that! But it never occurred to me that someone would feel guilty bargain shopping. 🙂

    2. My mom once “scolded” me for shopping at a thrift shop, claiming that I was essentially taking clothes away from those who needed the lower price more than I. But thrift shops run by not-for-profits make the money they need to support other programs that way. The low-priced clothes generally are the means to support the program, not the program. KWIM?

    3. Exactly. Goodwill often helps recovering drug addicts, for example, and I’m sure if they have a use for some donated item, they keep it, but they need the money from the thrift stores to fund their recovery programs.

    4. Beckie R. says:

      I’ve always felt the same way about thrift shopping — I always feel like those stores are for people of lower means than myself…even though I’m not that high on the totem pole!

  5. I love a good thrift store or consignment shop! If I can choose, I like the consignment shop because I get better clothes that are in better condition, even if I do have to pay a little more, but I’ve found some great things at the thrift store, too. Last week I found a Hanna Andersson denim jumper 50% at the thrift store making it a $3 find! Now if I can just find Thomas a nice flannel shirt in time for winter!

    1. We didn’t have good luck today; seems like there was nothing out but summer clothes, and this being September! We’ll head out on a more northerly track next week and see how we do. There’s a pretty good consignment shop up there for the younger kids.

  6. My daughter and I love to go thrifting/consignment shopping! I bought most of her clothes at Salvation Army which is in a well to do college town so they have a good selection. Digging through all the clothes is part of the fun!

    1. We haven’t found any really great thrift stores here, so we have to be quite patient, but we’ve had awesome ones in the past. We had a Salvation Army in Illinois, though, that I still miss!

  7. We are total thrifters! We have a great store we shop at about once every two months or so…whenever we see a need (usually church pants for my boys!) With 7 kids, I go in with a list and come out with most everything I needed (it’s a big store!). So much better for me than the time and gas money for garage saling. Granted, you do need to sometimes look a few times to find modest skirts, but patience helps! We get almost 100% of our clothes (all modest!) there.

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