Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Case for Thrift Stores

As everyone knows by now, I love to shop at thrift stores. I have been spending much time thrift storing lately mostly because let's face it... we are bored. Claire and I go out at least twice a week (sometimes three) to see what kinds of deals we can find.

When I was thinking of writing this blog, to share a some of the neat things I've found recently, I started looking around our house and noticed that literally 90% of our belongings are from thrift stores.

I would venture to say that thrift storing has become somewhat of an obsession. I absolutely love it. But how could I not? Where else can you get a train table for $20?(actual retail $120)

a paper craft cutter for $6? (which has been used more times than I can count, and the best part is that the blade is just a normal razor blade so I don't have to spend tons of money on replacement blades - also very sturdy and doesn't move out of place in middle of the cut like many cutter do) (actual retail $20)

a mug like this one for .50?(actual retail - no clue, I have never bought a new mug)

this awesome lamp that I desperately needed over my sewing machine for $3?
(actual retail $12)

a cute clock from Cost Plus World Market for $3,
(actual retail $19.95 - the original price tag was still on it)

these chairs for $4 each? (I can't wait to give them a makeover)(actual retail - maybe $20 a piece?)

or 3 camelbak drink bottles for a total of $5?(actual retail $42)

a thread rack for $3? (and most of my thread is from thrift stores too-usually
$2 for a bag full of 15 or so spools)
(actual retail $14 - not counting thread.
That would be outrageous though to add up that cost)

This cubby shelf $8 and everything on it?(actual retail - again, no clue probably $20 though)

a 24x36 Fiskars self-healing cutting mat for $3?
(actual retail $30)

a brand new scrapbook for $2?
(actual retail $20)

a Makita drill with a case, extra battery, and battery charger for $8?
(actual retail $182)

a nice fan that makes a great humming noise to block out Claire screaming because she is "scared of the dark" at 1am for $5?
(actual retail $36)

or yards and yards of amazing fabric for...?
yellow stripe canvas $2
multi -stripe canvas shower curtain $4
polka dotted print sheet $1
Blue and green stripe canvas shower curtain $4
bottom bright stripe table cloth $4

(actual retail - now this is just an estimate but I am pretty sure it would come to close to $100 if I bought all of this at Walmart or Joann (which do not even have prints this cute and different)

a Kelty self-inflating sleeping mat for $5?
(actual retail $40)

a vintage Singer box full of original Singer foot attachments and metal bobbins for $4.98? (they all fit my machine)
(actual retail $50 or more)

two Xyron machine for $3?
(actual retail about $40 - they need new cartridges, I am going to try to sell them on ebay)

an HP ink cartridge that is actually the right one for our printer for .75?

(actual retail $50)

or a vacuum cleaner filter for our vacuum for $1?

(actual retail $20)

So if you add it all up I spent $104.25 at thrift stores which seems like a TON of money! But when you compare it to the $861 (not including tax) that I could have spent at a regular store I realize that yes, I really do save money by thrift storing.

I have created a map of the thrift stores in my area and plan a route so I can get to as many as possible before we have to get home for Claire's nap.

Here is my short reviews on the stores I go to.

Goodwill: The ones by me are dirty and gross so you have to be mentally prepared. The prices seem better here in Phoenix than they do at the ones in Mesa and Gilbert. Every once in a while I will find items that are way over-priced but I can pretty much predict the prices of most items. I hate buying clothes for myself at Goodwills because they are all a set price and they just raised their prices to $4.99 for t-shirts and $5.99 for ls shirts. Dresses are $9.99 and all maternity is 5.99 (even the dresses! so that is good)

Goodwill Clearance Center: My friend Nicole and I went to the Goodwill Clearance Center on Friday for their grand opening. It is in a 10k square foot warehouse so we were surprised that just a small room was open to the public. The room was lined with large blue bins full of the items that did not sell at the regular Goodwill locations. People were EVERYWHERE going crazy over the bins, picking up items and tossing them aside trying to find something decent. The bins may have been sorted at one point, but when we were there, one bin could contain anything ranging from placemats, dresses, onesies, socks, pants, or shirts. The clothing and other fabric items are sold for $1.39 per pound and the non-fabric items are .59 per pound. I do not recommend this sort of shopping environment for the average shopper as the chances of finding something in your size, that you actually like and doesn't have a major flaw is extremely slim but if you are like me and Nicole and are looking for fabric then it is great. We don't care if we find a curtain, sheet, or size 3x dress - if it is made from a cute fabric then we want it. I also don't recommend it for people who care about personal space. Apparently, they do a 'bin rotation' every hour so there is new stuff coming out all day. We left before we got to see a bin rotation because so many people were in there we figured there would be a stampede when they brought a new bin. We did manage to find a few nice things.

Savers: I really like Savers as they are the cleanest and most organized of thrift stores. They do tend to have high higher prices though but you never know. I have found many amazing clothing items at Savers - the most recent was a pair of Banana Republic black slacks for $4.99.

Indian School Thrift: The sister store of Mesa Thrift. In a BAD area of town (right near my work!:) This store seems to attract hispanic men more than any other store I have ever seen. I don't know why this is but I think it is because the store has a lot of tools and electronics that must be priced by women who have no clue what they are worth and therefore are literally a steal. The clothing there is not sorted by size so I have never seriously looked through it all but it is very reasonably priced - 2.98 for everything except dresses which are usually $4.98. This store has the most interesting housewares but they are overpriced, really good picture frames that are way under-priced and just unique things that I usally don't see at other thrift stores. This is where I got the vintage Singer sewing box.

Value Village: New to my repetoire but definitely a must. There are only 2 locations in the valley and they are within 3 miles of each other - Dumb. Great Prices on most everything but the clothing is arranged poorly and there are no signs saying what anything is. I still haven't found the maternity section in one of them.

Thrift Shop: Couldn't they think of a better name? It's on 59th Ave and Thomas. They actually measure the fabric scraps they get and write down how many yards a piece is before rolling it in a tight roll and binding it in masking tape. I find this helpful. I don't know where they get their clothing but it is BAD, seriously. It looks like stuff that didn't sell at the Goodwill Clearance Center.

Deseret Industries: (AKA the Mormon Thrift Store) By far the best among all thrift stores. One is located in Mesa and one is in Phoenix. I have not had good luck at the Phoenix location but my mom and I go to the Mesa one every single Monday and that is where most of my finds come from. I cannot say enough good things about this store. It is clean, the clientel is better than most and everything is well organized. The stuff they get in is good shape and they have volunteers pricing and working so the prices are amazing. This is where I found the ink cartridge, self-healing mat, xyron machines, vacuum filter, fan, lamp and Makita Drill.

Wow, this is a really long post. Claire is spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house tonight so I am finding myself with an unusual amount of time on my hands and an unusually clean house:)


  1. I want to go to the Thrift Shop with you some time! And Deseret too! Joel needs a new toolbox, and I just can't bring myself to pay full price for one at a hardware store when I know there is one that is close to new at a thrift store somewhere!

  2. wow - that is amazing - what great deals! makes me want to go thrifting!!

  3. I'm impressed! I love to shop at Ross and Marshall's but those deals are usually only half price.