Who's Shopping at Thrift Stores?

My son came home with a flyer announcing that his class was going to have an "early 1900's" day. The children were given a list of acceptable clothing and lunch options. For boys: BIB OVERALLS! Seriously? I know it was the rage in the early 1900's, but I don't think I've seen a boy over the age of 12 months wearing overalls. Unless their hunting or something. Sheesh.

Being a frugal mom, I didn't want to buy brand new overalls at the sporting good store so I thought I'd step out into the thrift store world and see what we could find.

Now, I've been to thrift stores before and I've never been impressed. They're usually in iffy neighborhoods, smell like an old lady's house, and have outrageous prices. This time was no different.

As soon as we drove into the area, my son announced that he was NOT getting out. "We shouldn't be in a place like this without Dad," he said. Before you get all snippy, you know what he means. Even a young child knows what the neighborhood is like when adult males are standing (and lying!!) all over the sidewalk.

When men aren't at work during the day; it means trouble. So whatever. We went into the store. My daughter asked why it smelled bad and why everything looked so old and junky. Great.

We walked around for awhile. We didn't find any overalls. But I did look at winter coats for my children, skirts, and random household items. You know what I found? Everything was outrageously priced. Most of the used, stained, and smoke smelling jackets were $19.99 or more. Really? I can get my children brand new coats at Target for less than $20 during peak season. If I buy them when they go clearance I can get them for under $8.

Scraped up old, warped Teflon pans were selling for $6. Single pairs of USED socks were selling for $2.95 and UP.

All the skirts were over $8 and the tops were $3+. Vomit, vomit, vomit. New tops on clearance at Target go for $1-4. For Brand new, in style clothing! None of the items at this thrift store were in superior condition, style, or brands. They never are. I've been to dozens of thrift stores (super big ones, little ones, consignment, you name it) and it's always the same. It's like a really bad garage sale, but with loitering people and bad prices.

So that's it. I'm not  stopping into thrift store ever again. It's such a waste. A gross, disgusting waste.

I'm sure some people love them. In fact, there were a lot of people at this store and they had carts full of crap stuff.  I've read blog posts where people have found steals on new merchandise at Thrift stores. But really - I've never seen it. And you can find REAL steals on quality stuff at department stores, online, Target even garage sales.

Thrift stores - Blech!


singedwingangel said...

ok i love thrift stores and I have never had one like that around here... ever

Real Life In A Minute said...

I've had a better experience than you had...and also I agree you can get new stuff cheap too! Shop on!

Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap said...

I hate thrift stores too. My kids wear mostly Gap clothing and after combing sales with coupons I get their clothes cheaper than what I would pay for clothes at Target on clearance.
I don't have time to search for deals at thrift stores and nor do I want to. I don't wear second had stuff so why would I make my kids wear second hand stuff? And yes, all of the crap I have seen at thrift stores has been way overpriced.

Mary said...

I think the options can vary quite a bit. I grew up in California and the only thrift store I went to was mostly along the lines of the one you just described. When my daughter was young, I regularly shopped at consignment stores and found some really good dresses and everyday clothes for good prices. I think thrift stores can vary greatly. The ones I shop at now are in small town/suburban areas (in New England), and the finds can be very good. The stores are clean and well maintained, and I rarely see anything terribly worn or stained. So, I guess I have a somewhat different experience and reaction. Last month I bought a really cute hand-knit cardigan for myself that was $3. I love that sweater. I find myself less eager to plunk down $20 or $25 at Target for something that is not very well made and not particularly durable. You might have some hidden thrift store gems near you that you don't know about, or not. If all you have is the one you describe, then I wouldn't go again either.

Lydia said...

I agree with Mary. I think that thrift stores vary greatly. For instance, I have 5 or 6 within 15 min. of me and some are awful and way overpriced and some are very neat and clean and priced reasonably. And I have family that lives in OH and IN and they get stuff all the time for $0.50 at thrift stores...nice, name brand stuff.
Personally though, I'm not a huge thrift store shopper. I get weary of combing through the racks. I'm with you in looking for new, clearanced stuff. Or even yard sales occasionally.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't judge one Thrift Store and say they are all bad, just a bad experience and a bad location. We have a local non-profit Thrift Store that has great prices, $1.50 for shirts, $2.50 jeans and kids clothes are all $0.75. Plus there is specials all the time, the last Saturday of the month all clothes are $0.25. Plus all the profit from the store goes back into the community!
We live in a small community (pop 500) and the store is run completely by volunteers. It gives older people a place to make themselves feel useful and people a place to shop for clothing and household items without driving 45 miles. Volunteers are very picky about clothing and all stained/ripped clothing are NEVER put out.
One other plus about Thrift Stores is that donations made to the store keep those items out of landfills. And you would be amazed by the amount of new items with tags on them that are donated!! Plenty of Target clearance items!!

bayctygrl said...

It totally depends on where you live. Here we have an abundant of awesome thrift stores, clean in nice areas. and they always have brand new tags still on donations from Target, The gap, Express and Old navy to name a few. The prices are cheap 99 cents for tanks and tees. 3 bucks for jeans. Of course there is some crap in there but some of my favorite pieces have come from there and those are the things I get the most compliments on.

But when we went on vacation I wanted to check this other states thrift stores and it was all overpriced and it was junk and another did smell. I was so disappointed

Stephanie Ann said...

Have you ever been to a Goodwill... all of their clothing has a set price, like pants are $3.79 at the one I have been too, and blouses are $3.79 too. SO for me when I go, I go through the blouses and only pull out the top name brands that I know I like - like Express/Limited - where if you bought the shirt there at regular price it would be like $35... on clearance maybe $9. Also, for business casual pants I do the same thing, go through the racks looking for the brands I want, then size, etc. I usually end up grabbing like 30 items to try on and walk out buying like 3. It is kinda a fun hunt, like "oooh I wonder how much crap I can dig through to find that one awesome pair of good fitting pants (for $3.79)." And the Goodwills around here, are spread out, and some are in more of the richer parts of town - so you get better brands, because the rich people are dropping off their clothes. Try a Goodwill next time, and not a traditional thrift shop.

Emelie said...

I agree with Stephanie Ann. I have been to some pretty bad thrift stores with junk that is way overpriced. However, I LOVE Goodwill. They have great deals daily and weekly. Mostly I love it because I can buy name brand items there and resell them on ebay (which I do a lot!). I also will never pay full price for a book again. They have brand new children & adult books for 99 cents and on sale for 49 cents. You can't beat that. I look for only the best clothing & stuff there. Plus for me its like a ton of garage sales smashed into one building. I never have time to drive around to garage sales, but an hour in goodwill is awesome. Our Goodwill's here have started a new sale - 99 cent mondays (new color tag each week) I can't talk it up enough. I feel for you in your neck of the woods and the negative impact its had for you. I hardly go to Target anymore, especially for clothing, I could never find the great deals you speak of on clothing unless it was in the kids clothing.
I guess its with anything - 2 sides to every coin ;)
Em @

HarleyC said...

I love thrift stores! No matter what size you can almost always find a great find there!

nickieisis3 said...

I don't mind thirt stores, but my sister hates them. Thanks for the advice on finding great deals though.

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