January 28, 2013

Thrift Store Shopping ~ Dos & Don'ts

Today it seems whether it's Craigslist, Ebay, Goodwill, other resale shops or garage sales, there is a place for everyone to find what they're looking for, for less.  Here at Hearts for Home, we absolutely love finding a bargain and have found many used items that have blessed us and our homes.

I have many stories of how the Lord blessed me with thrift store buys, one in particular is one of my more recent purchases of a coffee table.  I bought 2 nightstands/end tables on sale from IKEA (I highly recommend their sale section!), I like a lot of the furniture pieces that match the set, but they are out of my price range...at least I thought they were. :)

One night, I walked into my local Goodwill, just to browse, and in the furniture section I look down to see the matching IKEA coffee table to the set!  It was a "NO WAY" moment and I quickly looked it over to see if there was any damage, missing parts, etc.  It was in great condition.  Yay! :)  The best part was I had a coupon Goodwill sent me for my birthday!

Would you like to know the price difference?

The original price of the table is $99.99, click here to view a picture and price of it on the IKEA website.  

I paid....


$5.00 for it at Goodwill.

God delights in His children and gives us so much more than we truly need.  I thanked Him for such a sweet, unexpected gift.  One that, even though unnecessary for me to have, He chose to give me that night, reminding me of the little things He does to make me smile. :)

I now enjoy the table at my home and think of how thoughtful and giving God is to me every time I look at it. 

It doesn't always work out in such an exciting way when shopping at a thrift stores.  I created a list of Dos and Don'ts I'd like to share with you and  hope it will be beneficial to both the seasoned thrifters and ladies who have hesitated buying used in the past.

The Dos & Don'ts of Thrift Store Shopping

Do...TRY shopping at thrift stores and garage sales, before over paying somewhere else.  Research local thrift stores and garage sales in your area, or if you are looking for something very specific consider shopping online at Ebay or on Craigslist.

Don't...buy/search for resale items online, such as on Craigslist, and go pick it up by yourself.  Go with your husband, father, brother, etc. and make sure the location is legitimate by looking it up on Mapquest or on your GPS before going to pick it up.  I have never had any problems with this personally, however it's important to use discernment whenever buying resale items online.

Do...consider thrift stores for:
~ Clothes (I have found many long, modest skirts, blouses, dresses and sweaters) Be flexible with sizes!  Sometimes I find things in sizes that would be too big for me in retail stores.
~ Furniture (Everything from desks and chairs to bed frames and cribs)
~ Purses
~ Plates, Cups, Mugs, Fine China Sets (Mix and match tea cups and plan a tea party!), Pyrex Pans, Other Cooking Items
~ Fabric, Craft Supplies 
~ Books (I have seen a lot of Bibles and other Christian books)
~ Artwork, Picture Frames

~ Home Decor
~ Children's Games 
~ Little Knick-Knacks
You will be pleasantly surprised to find many high-end name brands that are beautiful and unique. 

Don't...consider thrift stores for:
~ Food/Drinks
~ Toiletry Items
~ Undergarments
You won't find them there.  Well...you might, but I wouldn't recommend buying them!

Do...double and triple check items.  Look for stains on clothes, cracks in plates and mugs, chips in furniture. Ask yourself the question, "Is this repairable or is it worth repairing?"  Many items do not have these problems, some might and you can fix it yourself and then there are some that are just not worth it.

Don't...get discouraged and give up.  Not every time you walk into a thrift store, will you find something you can use and you do have to be ready to spend some time searching. Be patient and optimistic!  Go back often, new shipments are always pouring in and there is something new every day!
Do...get their discounts.  If there is no obligation or upfront cost, have their coupons sent to you or ask them when they have special deals going on.  There's nothing like getting 50% off an already marked down item at a thrift store.  Sometimes the cost is close to free.

Don't...spend money on a product just because it is cheap.  You will end up with a house full of things you don't need.  Be careful not to get too hooked on thrift store shopping.

Do...use creativity.  There may need to be a few alterations to a skirt you found or a new coat of paint on the furniture you're buying, but if it's a good deal, make it a weekend mother/daughter or husband/wife project to repair or refinish.  Your creativity will allow for endless possibilities.

Don't...settle.  If you are truly looking for something specific, you may not find it at a thrift store.  More then likely, you can find something similar, but if you can't afford to be flexible, don't be.  Thrifting is for those who can work with what they find.  Like I mentioned earlier, I would recommend still buying resale, but instead of going to a thrift store, try Craigslist or Ebay instead, there you can search for specific items.

Do...call ahead.  If you are looking for something specific, maybe a queen-size, black bed frame or a  full-length bookshelf.  Call the thrift store and ask if they have something similar to what you're looking for.  There is no need to go there just to browse.  I personally enjoy browsing, but if you don't have time for that, give them a call.

That's all I have for you, Bargainistas! :)  I hope this list helps and if you have any other thoughts or questions please feel free to comment.  We would love to hear from you!  If I think of other Dos and Don'ts, I'll post them on our Facebook page.  

As we wrap up this month of Frugality, we would like to thank you for your thoughts and participation here and on Facebook. We would love to have you participate in our topics every month and hope you will join us next week as we unravel another aspect of what it means to have Hearts for our Homes.  Also, come visit us on Facebook throughout the week, where we post other thoughts, questions and pictures.

God is so good to us, I encourage you to pray over the topics we have discussed this month and hope it they will pose a challenge to all of us to be wise with our money.  When we do things such as menu planning, buying in bulk, gardening and buying used, these are simple ways to save money and bless our families.  I also encourage you to consider implementing these into your daily lives and sharing the ideas with your daughters, sisters and moms.  Thanks for stopping by!

Because of Christ,


  1. Great post!!! My family has found several things at Goodwill that were brand new with the tags still on them. My mom even found an expensive dress with the tags still on it once. She paid about $5 for it. She was super excited about that! :) It pays to spend time looking and sorting through the racks. We also really enjoy going to yard sales-- lots of good deals at those too. Thanks for sharing this post-- lots of great and helpful ideas-- makes me want to go to Goodwill sometime soon to look around!

    Have a blessed day.

    1. Thank you, Libby :)
      I know what you mean, as I was writing it I was thinking, "I haven't been to Goodwill in a few weeks!"

  2. So happy for your furniture finds! I love thrifting and have found so many of my kids' clothes our Goodwill -- especially fancy Christmas dresses and skirts. I've learned my lesson on buying stuff "just because it's cheap"! Thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks Andrea! It's easy to justify buying more when it's cheap. ;)
      Chelsea :)

  3. Great ideas, Chelsea! I love thrift store shopping, and even though I don't sew (yet), I have created my own way of modifying tops to fit my style. Even with my guys, we'll plan on stopping at Goodwill first to see if we can find (pants, shirts, belts, etc.) there first before going elsewhere.

    Thanks for sharing this. :)

  4. May I suggest another "DO"? DO pray beforehand! I like to say that God and I have an arrangement: I humbly ask for what things I would like, and He brings them to the thrift store! And don't be afraid to ask for details... I asked for a tailored wool green coat with a hood and pockets in my size, and right before I needed it for winter I found it at Goodwill for $15 (in my price range in this case!). That same day I found the cowboy hat I had been praying for as well (perfect color with a bonus stampede string!) for $2 :D Recently I also got the perfect pair of cowboy boots (color, size, low heel, good condition, comfortable) for $5. God is not a vending machine but He is a very kind and involved Father! <3

    1. This is a GREAT thought, Elizabeth. :) Thank you for sharing with us!
      Blessings to you and your thrift store adventures!
      ~ The Hearts for Home Gals


Thank you for sharing with us!

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