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Goodwill Hunting – Tips For Thrift Shopping

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Being a bargain hunter, I’ve always been a fan of Goodwill and other thrift stores. I enjoy digging into the racks and sifting through the shelves to find those diamonds in the rough, nice, sometimes even high-end items for just a few dollars.

1. I often get children’s clothes at Goodwill. They grow so fast that it’s silly to spend a ton of money on expensive clothes that soon get ruined or outgrown. And since my kids are now at a school with uniforms, they no longer need a big wardrobe.

These are some clothes I’ve bought recently for the kids at my local Goodwill.

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And these pajama pants for my little guy and gall were just 99 cents each!

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2. I also love picking through the housewares. I’ve gotten tons of nice drinking and bar glasses over the years, anywhere from 25 cents to $5 each. These are just a few.

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And one day recently I was contemplating whether to buy some new pots at a discount retail store. Thank goodness I didn’t, because I later found these two pots at Goodwill for a fraction of the discount store price. They’re good quality and the exact kind I needed with the built-in lid strainer.

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3. I also get a lot of books at Goodwill. I love to use my local library to check out books, but being a busy mom it sometimes takes several weeks for me to finish an entire book. So buying them for 50 cents or a few dollars at Goodwill, means I can keep them and read at my own pace.

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But for all my amateurish Goodwill experience, my sister Angie is really the master thrifter. She’s even made a pretty good business out of reselling her awesome finds on eBay. So I asked her for some pro-tips.

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#1 – Check The Label

We all want good labels, right? And I’m not talking about it in a junior high school sort of way, when you had to have those Guess jeans or you would just die! 

High end brands are better made, last longer and sell for more on eBay if that’s what you’re aiming for. And snagging those good name brands at Goodwill for a ridiculous price, when you normally couldn’t afford them at all, that’s a win-win!

And you can definitely find great name brands at thrift stores. You just have to look, and look, and look sometimes.

Just check out some of the name brands I found at Family Thrift Center in Houston with my sister, the master thrifter. I’m on a fitness wear kick so I spent some time looking in that section and spotted lots of Nike, Under Armour, Athleta, Adidas and even a Patagonia top.

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I ended up getting several Nike pieces for myself, a Reebok top with the tags still on and a Victoria’s Secret ‘Pink’ tank top, all for under $20.

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My sister says she’s spotted some hot brands here too like Lululemon! And on our shopping trip she snagged this North Face fleece zip-up for $6 and Michael Kors flip-flops for $3!

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#2 – Check The Quality Carefully

This is a big deal when you’re searching through thrift stores. It really sucks to find that great piece with a hot name brand for just five bucks, only to get it home and realize there’s a stain on the collar or a whole in the back. Then that great catch turns into garbage. So look the item over very carefully.

For example, I found this adorable white puffy vest with the tags still on it, but luckily I spotted a small stain on the front. So it went back on the rack.

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#3 – Check The Price

Don’t take it as a given that all thrift store items are dirt cheap. I have actually turned down buying some housewares because I thought they were a little overpriced. And as an eBay thrift flipper, this is something Angie pays close attention to, because if she doesn’t get it for a low enough price to make a profit from it, then it’s not worth it.

Some thrift chains like Goodwill have basic pricing structures. All tops might be $5.95, all bottoms $6.95 and so on. But at other chains like Family Thrift Center, prices vary based on the item.

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#4 – Take Advantage Of Special Deals

Thrift prices can get even better depending on the store and the day. Chains like Goodwill have 50% off days for certain color tagged items. And at Family Thrift Center, where I went with my sister, if you spend a certain amount on a certain day, you can go back later in the week and get half off everything.

So take advantage of those days as much as you can. Also, the Goodwills in my area have a rewards program with a punch card that gets you $10 off after you spend $100. Check with your local thrift store to see if they offer a similar loyalty benefit.

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#5 – Take Advantage Of The Season

If you’re looking for great items to resell on eBay Angie recommends capitalizing on the season. For example, she did a pretty good business on Halloween costumes last September and October.

And my overall parting advice would be to never underestimate what you can find. Great brands, exactly the thing you were looking for.. it can all be found at thrift stores. Just roll up your sleeves and dive in!

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