Monday, December 17, 2007

How often do you shop?

Q: I am AMAZED at the deals you find, and I know it's because you are always on the lookout and seem to have a good game plan in mind; you seem to know what your needs/wants are, so when you see something that fits the bill you know you ought to buy it.

I usually do the scatter-shot method which is not nearly as efficient; I buy things that appeal to me and later realize I have no need or use for them, and then give the Good Will an extra bonus by donating my purchase back to them. So, reading your latest find made me wonder, how often do you shop at garage sales & thrift stores?

A: I shop once a week on average--even if it's only a five minute walk through the neighborhood thrift store.
In the summers I like to yard sale with my mom on Saturday morning. Occasionally, when I'm on the other side of town, I pop in a thrift store that's close to the errand.

Most of our thrifts charge $3-$4 for a woman's shirt and $1.99 for children's clothing, just as a point of reference, with 1.99 being the starting point for most housewares and linens. There are smaller, church-run shops in some areas which still price the odd item at a quarter and may hold "everything you can put into a bag for $1" sales.

Otherwise, my best deals come from thrift stores' sale days or clearance tag colors. I rarely look at items which are not on sale.

Sad day when the thrift store is too expensive to shop full price, isn't it? Lucky for us, even things like that Armetale platter go half-price eventually...and other shoppers had 3 full days to buy it half price before me.

It's all a matter of eyes!


Hélène said...

It certainly is a sad day. I went to a new thrift store the other day and a sign said that the price of jeans was from 7-20 dollars! Even half price sometimes is too much for me. I once thought that thrift stores sold clothes so that people with little money could afford to wear clothes. It took me a while to realize that they only do it so that they can make money and not to help out the poor.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's sad that thrift stores are too expensive:( I rarely go to ours because I can usually find an item brand new at a "regular" store on clearance less expensive than at the thrift store!

I can't wait for those summer yard sales to start up!!:)

Anonymous said...

I have a small house and have overdone it on "stuff" so I am trying to be very careful as well as purge what we have. However, what could I do when at the Habitat for Humanity store I found two brass candleholders and a scalloped tray on their free shelf just outside the door? Bad me. More clutter. I'll look at it for awhile and then give it to someone else to enjoy. BTW, the scalloped tray was like the bottom part of the one you just bought (top missing) but it probably isn't the high quality kind - it'll be fun for our Christmas snacks anyway. I thank the Lord for His many blessings.

Anonymous said...

I know in my area the thrift store prices are much higher than what Meredith finds. I am pea green with envy. Our Goodwill store sells jeans with holes and patched knees for more than $8.00 and it is considered a 'good price' too. Very sad..
I have recently got some of what I thought were good deals at the local Disney Store Outlet. They have huge sales and I often get coupons to save an additional 15%. I have 2 grandsons who live with me so I am the one who buys their school clothes etc. I looked at these jeans, they seamed great, nice fabric, well made, just $6.00 on sale with my coupon...I brought the boys several pair of Pirate of the Carabian and Cars...well sad to say that in less than 2 months they are worn to a frazzle. Holes in the knee, holes in the butt by the pockets, and holes by the zipper. I just can't figure it out. The shirts I brought for $3.00 still look great.
I am going to go to Sears to buy their jeans I guess. I wash every day so they can get by with just 2-3 pair....Roxie

Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

*Glances down at her GAP jeans*

I must be lucky-jeans are about $5 at the thrift store here, for name brand. Generic/discount store brands are $3.

My biggest problem is finding my size because it's "popular" and I don't go frequently enough because my kids are horrible to shop with. (daughter likes to hide in the clothing racks.)

nancyr said...

Goodwill has 99 cents jeans sale days at least once a month where I live. They even advertise on television.
Doesn't this happen in other states?

Anonymous said...

Thrifting, like grocery shopping is incredibly ... unbelievably ... location-dependent.

I used to find prices like Meredith's when we lived in the Midwest. Now, however, we live in an area with a different mix of prices: Meat is inexpensive; milk is reasonable; but produce is HIGH. (Maybe because we live in the desert?)

Housing is high here too, but that's another story.

Anyway, I have found that there are bargains to be found at most locations ... In our town, we must have a population that loves to shop, but hate to return things, because I find great clothes at the thrift store for a reasonable price. [$2.50 for a 100% wool knit Eileen Fisher skirt. In Sz 2x. $1 for a Talbot's pullover. etc.] I go thrifting once a week, during my lunch break.

Our thrift store has a monthly $5/bag sale ... because they have too much stuff. (They also have very small quarters, because of the high cost of housing & land). And maybe the housing crunch is reason that people donate so much: they don't have room to keep it.

That tradeoff consoles me somewhat when I pay the mortgage or when I see that buying a head of cauliflower would run me $6.


Edi said...

It seems to me that in the past 5 years or so - since eBay has become bigger and bigger...thrift stores seem to have increased their prices.

I don't know if it's b/c someone in the store is checking out that "antique" dish on eBay and thinking if eBay can sell it for $30 - we can sell it for that...or it eBay has just made everyone more aware of the interest in "vintage" items.

It was common for me a few years ago to go to the thrift store and come back w/some little "treasure" - but now that's pretty rare.

Some thrift stores even have "vintage/antique" areas set up in their store - I don't bother to look, I figure the prices are too high.

There is one thrift store close to my house that is consistently good in cleanliness, neatness (clothes sorted by size) and fair prices. Though since new ownership took over, the prices on some things have increased lately.

A couple of times at garage sales also - I've heard talk about how if they can't sell their stuff at the garage sale, they can try it on eBay.

So that's my theory on the higher prices at thrift stores, and why it's harder to come across collectibles, and vintage items.

Donna-Jean Breckenridge said...

A Goodwill just opened up near me, I'm looking forward to seeing what they have - and especially to seeing what I can donate there. Blessing others is one of the greatest joys in life, I think - and I'm happy if what I buy there helps them to help people as well.

We were just the recipients of blessing-beyond-measure (I posted about it on my blog), and I want my life to reflect that, even in small amounts. (Just FYI - the people who blessed us gave sacrificially, some deciding to forego Christmas gifts. They're also the same people who have given time and again to help missionaries, people nearby in need, and - on several trips - those suffering after Katrina).

I am truly inspired by your blog - to create beauty like a virtuous woman, in my home, my church, my sphere of influence...and to do it with what's at hand, or what's easily available, and to do it with excellence - for God's glory.

Thank you for the many ideas, the inspiration, and the lovely photos. I am blessed by your blog, and look forward to checking it every day. Thanks for being an encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I think Meredith must be extremely lucky...since Ebay has become so popular, I very seldom find "treasures" at thrift stores seems to me that if anyone has any really nice and/or vintage items, they are being sold on Ebay straight away. Or, as others mentioned, the stores price them at ridiculously high prices. At least this has been my experience having lived in both Pennsylvania and South Carolina. One good thing is that at least vintage books are still pretty widely available.

The Goodwill stores around here are mostly filled with junk, plus they sell low-quality new stuff. I rarely if ever go there.

Meredith said...

Trust me, it's not just luck! I do believe that frequency is key, or at least a regular stop at a particular store.

If you rarely if ever visit the Goodwill, how do you know which treasures you missed? There are probably more avid shoppers who are scooping them before you arrive.

I do agree that Ebay has had a negative effect on secondhand shopping. However, good items ARE donated--even I've passed along a few in times of crisis or moving or simply being too overwhelmed to sell a box of things myself.

The problem is not that Ebay has diminished the donated goods at large, but that Ebay has grown the number of pros shopping for good stuff at thrift stores...and consequently, the prices.

Anonymous said...

It's true that some thrift stores are anything but thrifty. I guess it's because it's considered the "chi-chi" thing to do now. Hmm. I have to laugh at Jen's comment about her children hiding in the clothing racks! Mine liked to do the same thing, & then I told them how annoying that was to customers, & if they couldn't stay with me they had to make themselves useful. So, on subsequent trips, they decided to pick up hangers that had fallen down (on a 50% off storewide day that was a lot of hangers!), & they would take their armload to the nearest clerk. They came away a bit dusty, though.....!


Anonymous said...

I have given up on our thrift stores in our medium size city. I have gone again and again (one is very close to the public library), and I just never see a thing that jumps out at me. Moreover, so much of the stuff is just awful! You would not want to be seen in most of the clothing. They are also overpriced. I wait for garage sale season and buy beautiful items that smell good and are much cheaper!

MommyLydia said...

Don't poo-poo thrift stores being in business to make money. If they didn't make money, they would not stay there for you to go and check out the bargains. Almost nobody is willing to fund keeping a business open that is not at least making enough to pay for itself. After all, would you be willing (or even able) to take money out of your pocket to keep a store open so others could buy up bargains (and yes, many of those buying up the bargains will go and resell them on ebay for more)

and many many people on ebay are making their living (or at least supplementing) by finding things at thrift stores and reselling it online at higher prices. So you have more people in thrift stores looking for bargains. So yes, the thrift stores can ask more money for items and perhaps get it. (And to some extent the price of everything is going up. The prices at Half Price Books are now as much as a new book used to be because the prices of books have gone up that much)

Thrift stores do not help the poor just by having cheaper prices than the stores (which they still do, in general). But also because of what the organizations behind them do with the money they get from selling the thrifted goods to anyone who will buy them.

Mimi said...

I don't thrift too often, but I have found some treasures.

I think people who do best in thrift stores are like Meredith, who stop by at least once a week. If you do that, you can afford to make some trips when you don't bring anything home because you make out well when you do see a deal.

Another thought I had was that it is more expensive to fix things today than it used to be. So, when you see something at thrift stores that has been cleaned, patched, recovered, etc., it has cost the store more to put it in at least semi-presentable condition than it used to.

Anonymous said...

My local goodwill now loads all donations on a truck, sorts through and sells the goodies online. They then distribute the remainder to the stores.

They also sell donated goods from Target at more than what you could buy them at the original store for. For instance, (insert any holiday) clearance will eventually go on sale at 50-75 or even 90% off. The leftovers get donated to goodwill and they sell it at 25% off the MSRP.

Nowadays I generally donate to AmVets, Purple Heart or MS b/c they come to my house and pick the stuff up. I shop yard sales for my "thrift shopping fix"

TJ said...

how appropriate that today I'm hoping to swing by one or two second hand stores. I need to find a table that has 4 legs and open area underneath. It can be the ugliest thing ever, because I want to cover it with cloth and hide the cat's litterbox under it. I'm worried that I won't be able to find one at a price I can afford.

Anonymous said...

Almost any store near us here in Chicago has reasonable prices and HUGE amounts of stuff. That's the biggest issue for me - digging through the abundance for the treasures. I HAVE found treasures, though: a purse that retailed new for about $180 - my price: $5, virtually new little boy's dress shirt from Nordstroms - my price: $4, Pottery Barn pillow shams, .

My favorite thrift store, though, is by my parents' out in NW Ohio, Care and Share in Archbold, Ohio. Proceeds go to missions and the store is so neatly organized. Prices are great - kid's books are $.05 to $1, adult HB usually $1, PBs less. It's one of the few stores where you can find magazines, often brand-new ones that are still on newsstands. My mom buys her Reader's Digests there now instead of subscribing - $.10 a month!