I shop at Goodwill. You should too.

I thrift and I’m proud of it. Now, I’m not talking about the “overpriced” vintage or antique shops. I shop Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, and the like, and I’m better for it. My whole family is. We spend money on what is important: house, education, quality food, savings.

Recently I was at a conference and attended a session for new professionals about mentors and sponsors. The person presenting said you “can’t buy outfits at Goodwill and look nice.” Never mind that I was sitting in her session in my sweater, which had received no less than 5 compliments that day, that I procured a few weeks prior at a Goodwill Outlet for 50 cents.

I love yard sales too. Some are a bust, just like some thrift store trips, but others are a hit. For example, I scored one of my favorite designer’s bags (retail $500, and TJMaxx for $175) at Goodwill Outlet for $2. I have never seen the bags for less than $125 on clearance anywhere else. This bag, also, gets many compliments.

I’m going to tell you how you can shop at Goodwill, and other thrift shops, and have you and your house look awesome!

Potential! Potential! Potential!
I love remaking something into something new. I have several “retro” lamps I sprayed with metallic spray paint, rewired with a lamp kit from Lowe’s for $5, and dressed with a new shade from Target. Total cost for an awesome lamp: $15-$35 depending on the shade you pick. You can redo picture frames and furniture too! There are so many new paint options available.

Stains Be Gone
Did you find something and it has a little stain? If it’s cheap enough, take it home and try getting the spot out. I have found Dawn dish soap will get out oily stains and a Fels-Naptha bar works well on the rest. Some, of course, won’t come out, but at least you tried!

Do you sew?
If you sew, you’re in better luck. I have spotted some items that are just a bit too big or a dress that would look so much better as a skirt. Clothes look loads better on with a little bit of tailoring anyhow!

Have kids?
Shop not just for their size, but the next size up. I always have a “next size up” box in the basement where I’ll keep clothes I found on a good deal. I will wash the clothes and put them in this Rubbermaid bin for safe keeping until they’re needed – sometimes surprisingly quickly! You have no idea how many brand new with tags items I have found for the girls. They both have overflowing closets and we still have cash in the bank.

Let the Smart Phone do the Shopping
I always price compare or check out items I’m curious about using the Amazon app on my iPhone. It helps me check reviews on the product, make sure it’s a good deal, and also check to see if I should look around for missing parts, or skip because the missing parts would be too costly to replace.

Keep an Open Mind
You can’t go to the thrift store and reliably find something you’re looking for. If you’re looking for only picture frames, you might not find any nice ones on a particular trip, but may really hit the jackpot the next time. You just never know. I recommend too, if it’s a good deal, jump on it. Still kicking myself over not picking up that amazing condition InStep 2 bike trailer for $10!

Make a List
I am a big fan of keeping a list on my phone of things I might like. For example, I may say, a new lamp in the hall would be nice, or I want to check for this new book that’s coming out, etc. Make a list to keep so you can check it over before going into the thrift shop. This way, you don’t forget to check those certain sections of the store and miss a good deal.

Dress Up
If you need an outfit for a costume party or you have kiddos who love to play dress up, you can find lots of fun things! Kari has loved playing dress up with all the sparkly sequined dresses I have found over the years for her dress up dresser.

Ignore the junk
Sometimes you’ll find some things you wonder what the donor was thinking! I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I see some things I wish I wouldn’t. Like someone’s sad, worn out sneakers, or ripped and stained shirts. No one wants that stuff! Please, if you generally donate everything, stop. Some things eventually need to be tossed. No one wants your funky yard shorts.

Read more…

7 Things you Should Always Look for at Goodwill

12 Goodwill Shopping Secrets Revealed