In my women’s group for church, I was asked to prepare some information on “thrift-ing”. As I was getting into it, I got so excited I thought that everyone should have this information! I practically don’t buy anything new. Toys and clothes for Charlotte, a Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer, a leather computer chair for Ben, all things we (my parents are the real divers, I just get to be the beneficiary) have received at dirt cheap prices from a beautiful, dirty land called Goodwill Outlet (We call it “The Dive” in my family for short, as in dumpster diving, because that’s basically what it is). Besides The Dive, there are a lot of other options and venues to go thru (many of them cleaner) to get the item you’re looking for at a cheaper price.
Some tips before you start looking:
-Write down what you are looking for and keep it on a note on your phone (or with pen and paper if you’re old/hipster)
-If you have a size need, list that as well (ex, maybe a table that needs to fit a 2’x4′ space)
-Price compare on amazon to see what it would cost new and then the sites below to get a good idea of what a fair used price would be.
-make sure you know the cheap brands. Any items from The Dollar Store will mention Greenbrier international on their UPC sticker. Target’s dollar spot items will have a colored dot near their UPC. These are items I constantly see at Goodwill and Arc but they are priced for 2-3x what you would spend on them new in their original store. Also, Ikea. Anything with one of those crazy Swedish names are usually cheaper/as cheap to just buy from the source vs used (unless it’s at the dive) I found a really cute little Ikea stool at a regular Goodwill that would make the perfect seat for Charlotte’s art table. It was listed at $5 with crayon scribbles and some obvious wear. I could clean it, but I figured I could get a new one for close to that amount. Yep, new stool, Ikea, $5. Don’t be a sucker!
Let’s start here, it’s kind of the lowest of the lows in a lot of ways (in both price and cleanliness). You should know a few things before going.
-Where these items come from: many of these items are things that just didn’t sell in their time at the first wave stores, but a lot of the items never even made it that far. If you’ve ever tried donating something to Goodwill, they will have a trailer there for their “overstock” items. This is where a lot of the good stuff comes from. That and things that were priced way too high in the first wave stores and never sold. How many times have you found something and thought the price was way too high for a thrift store. Sometimes they are so far off.
-Bring gloves! The items are dumped into large bins and a lot of times there may be broken glass or rusty objects or just general gross things.
-It’s NOT kid friendly. (reference note about gloves above) You can bring your kids there, but it’s so much easier if you go by yourself. It’s also pretty dangerous when they bring out a new bin and everyone kind of pushes and shoves to see what’s new.
-This is a lot of people’s livelihood. There is a large community of people that basically camp out at these warehouses. They make a profit by buying up hot ticket items like shoes, name brand clothing, and electronics, then they resell them else where. It can be very lucrative, and they take their jobs very seriously. Shopping carts are very hard to come by so it might be tempting to take one that you see pushed up against the wall with just a few items in it. DON’T DO IT. The re-sellers park carts all along the edge to fill as the day goes on.
-Most things things are sold by the pound instead of individual pricing. House wares are $1.19/lb, The books are $.50 a piece, and glass ware is $.59/lb. There are a lot of items that are too big to give a poundage price on, and this is where you get to barter! The Bean bag chair below I got for Charlotte for example was new with the tags on (from Target) and they offered it for $3 which I took. Appliances, furniture, any large items are pretty much set your own price.
Some other great finds we have found there were:
A pendant lamp from Pottery Barn, $5
A like new eather office chair $5
This Kitchen Aide stand mixer was $15
This bean bag chair was $3
This is a really exciting and very broad category. No longer do you have to hunt from neighborhood to neighborhood hoping you *might* find the item that’s been on your list. Now, with the help of Facebook market place you can just search what you’re looking for and compare prices and listings all in one place. Another added bonus is that you can sell your items there as well. If you have little kids at home, I really feel like this is the best place to get and sell those clothes they grow out of so fast. With Charlotte I only take about $40 every time she needs a new size of clothing and find a huge lot on face book market place. Then I have about $10-$20 left to find pieces of her wardrobe that I couldn’t get in the lot but I could find at either a children’s consignment shop or an in store clearance etc. The great thing is that with this system, you can sell the clothes (that survive your child) back and after all is said and done you’re only out about $20 per size. Not too shabby! We did this system with a lot of Charlotte’s baby toys as well. We live in a smaller home and dont’s have a ton of space to store things. I found a rain forest jumperoo (this same one below) for $20 on fb market and sold it when she was too big for it for $20.
It’s not just Facebook, Next door Neighbor is a great neighborhood connection site. People place things for sale here as well as free, and you can share safety tips, connect with people near you, I’ve even used it multiple times to find child care jobs that are close to home (if not in my own home). You can do so much with it!
Lastly, there’s Craigslist. You can search Craigslist for their free posts. These are mostly things that other people don’t want to have to move or pay to have removed. For example, you can always find firewood for free there and lots of beds, furniture, and even landscaping materials like large boulders, extra mulch, etc. Just a note, always arrange public meetings when you can and bring a strong scary friend when you can’t (I opt for my bearded husband most of the time).
Not into computers? Tired of the world changing around you? Just want to visit with other bored people who want to visit? Yard sales might be the place for you. I have nothing against yard sales, I actually love them and think they are awesome. I only wish you didn’t have to waste so much time and gas driving around town hoping you might get lucky. Plus a lot of people aren’t actually interested in selling at reasonable prices. Don’t talk to me about the retail value of something at a yard sale. It’s a moot point. If you enjoy driving around aimlessly and tracking worn out signs that might be for this weekend and may have been for last weekend, by all means, go for it! However, if you’re willing to put just a little more effort in, you can search your Facebook groups for yard sales, and even better, community garage sales near you.
Charlotte and I accidentally went to a senior community garage sale the other weekend and she made out like a bandit! Sure, there wasn’t a ton of little kids stuff, but the sweet folks there would gift her a teddy bear or a doll stroller just for coming up and saying hi and talking for a bit. It’s so much fun to just get out and know your community.
Did I miss anything? Let me know!