Oct 7, 2010

Being frugal or just common sense?

I live in a fairly affluent community. If I remember correctly, the median income for our area is $80,000, which is well above the national average of $52,000. And you know what that means for a frugal shopper? GREAT thrift store finds!

Because I'm naturally frugal (admittedly "cheap" might be a better description), I have always shopped at yard sales, auctions, and thrift stores. The current economic climate seems to cause those with money to clean their closets and donate the overflow, because the thrift store is overflowing with unworn (many still with tags) designer and high-end label clothes.

Normally, my favorite thrift store charges $4.99 per item for adults and $2.50 for items for children, but last Monday was "Half Off Day" and oh, yeah, I did some shopping. I spent a whopping $16.00 and purchased some beautiful clothes. First was a cotton/silk blend black cardigan, which most definitely had never been worn. Next were three short sleeved pullovers - white with lace embellishments, off-white with tiny floral embroidery at neck (Montego Bay) and dark brown with silk ribbon at sleeves and collar (Diane Von Ferstenberg). Add to that a pair of khaki casual pants, a pair of navy on navy print dress pant, and a long-sleeved deep aubergine pullover (Lane Bryant). Then to wrap it up, an Old Navy brown denim jacket with plaid fleece lining for Mr. B, which he loved and which fit him perfectly! Even if I went to Kohl's on a big sale day, I doubt I'd get even one of those items for the $16.00 I spent for all of them.

If you're not shopping your local thrift store, you need to go check it out. Thrift stores are benefiting from the current economic conditions and receiving far better clothing than normal. From winter jackets to jeans, evening gowns to sweaters, thrift stores and consignment shops are a great place to stretch your dollar just that much further, purchasing unworn or very gently worn clothing for less than a tenth of what you would pay in any major department store. And for anyone wanting to be more "green" in their life - the thrift store is the ultimate in recycling. You can find furniture, dishes, electronics, kitchen items, and yes, even quilting fabric and craft items,  for literally pennies.


1. Be patient. The aisles are usually narrow and, especially on sale days, crowded. Just smile and be patient.

2. Don't be in a hurry. Thrift store shopping requires going through hangers of clothing, one piece at a time. Take some time to look at any piece of clothing that interests you and make sure it's not worn, missing buttons, has rips or tears, or stains. Some stores do have changing rooms to try on items.

3. Chit chat with employees when the store isn't crowded. You can often find out what sale days are coming up, or which days restocking happens.

4. Don't binge shop. It's easy in a thrift store to become a compulsive shopper! Try and remember that you don't have to buy every item you see in your size or that "is a real steal"!

5. Bring cash. Some thrift stores do take credit cards, but many don't. Besides, if you bring cash you can limit your spending.


You can simply do a google search for your town name + thrift store. Or you can visit any of these thrift store search engines and simply put in your city or zip code:

The Thrift Store Shopper

The Thrifty Planet Resource Guide

The Salvation Army Store Locator

Goodwill Store Locator

Good luck!

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