Save at Secondhand Stores

Written by Nicole Dean

By Sandy Shields

One of my favorite ways to save money is to shop at secondhand stores. I always seem to find a new treasure! Plus by shopping resale I can pay only a fraction of normal retail prices. I recently visited a new thrift store that opened near my home. I brought home 14 “like new” articles of clothing, and I only spent $48.00! What a great feeling!
You can do it too!

Did you know that there are many thrift and consignment shops now on the internet? Visit this page to see some of my favorite online resale shops. Thrift stores and consignment shops each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but I use both to find the best deals.

Thrift Stores

— Advantages —
• Profits go to charities such as Salvation Army, Goodwill, City Rescue Missions, and Parents Anonymous.
• Unbelievably Low prices!
• It is possible to find new merchandise.
• Carry clothing for men, women, and children; plus books, appliances, furniture, linens, and toys.
• Regularly offer sales and discounts.
• Those who donate can receive a tax deduction for the amount donated.
• Name brands at very low prices.
• Large selection of merchandise.

— Disadvantages —
• Generally there is no customer service.
• Sales are final, with a limited (if any) return policy.
• Most of the merchandise sold is used.
• Stores are sometimes dusty, dingy, and poorly organized.
• Stores only have what is available. No various sizes or styles.
• Stores typically only have one of a particular item.
• Customer must check clothing for stains and defects.
• Customer must try clothes on before leaving the store.
• Customer must test electrical items.
• Customer must have plenty of time to browse.

Here is a very helpful guide by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
Hazardous Products Being Sold in Thrift Stores

Consignment Shops

— Advantages —
• Allow customers to sell items.
• Most shops are well organized.
• Regularly offer sales and discounts.
• Usually provide customer service.
• Quality is better than thrift stores.

— Disadvantages —
• Higher prices than thrift stores. Profits are split between the store owner and the consignor. Typically a 60-40 split, with the higher percentage going to the store owner.
• Customer must watch for damaged or defective merchandise, but not as often as thrift stores.
• Customer must keep track of own sales if selling merchandise.
• No funds to charities.
• No tax deduction.

The most important thing about resale shopping is that you have plenty of time to browse and that you are flexible. Patience is required, as you may or may not find what you are looking for. But if you have time to browse what’s available, you will likely bring home a great deal!

To find out more about resale stores, visit these links:
The Resale Guide
The National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops
Listing of Resale Shops Online


Sandy is a freelance writer and webmaster of She enjoys living the frugal life, saving money, and helping others to do the same. Subscribe to her newsletter to receive more money-saving ideas and frugal tips. Reprint permission granted with this footer included. Copyright © 1999-2003.


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