|Property of Goodwill Industries, Inc.|
|Property of The Salvation Army|
The most popular thrift store in my area is Goodwill. We have a couple of Salvation Army stores as well, and several locally owned stores. I will usually dedicate an entire Saturday to traveling to several of the thrift stores in the area to allow myself enough time to look through every rack, try on styles and stand in line to purchase items.
I am such an advocate for thrift store bargains because of the consistently cheap pricing system. Goodwill has a simple setup for the most part by using a categorical system. For example, jeans and blazers are $4.99 per piece. Dress slacks and blouses are $3.99. Scarves range from $0.99 to $3.99 depending on size, brand and material. Shoes are $3.99. They do have items in what they call the "Boutique" section that are generally nicer articles of clothing for slightly higher prices.
Basically, I can walk into Goodwill, search through racks and fill my cart with items to try on, knowing the price without having to look at each tag for a number. It saves me the hassle of determining whether or not it's worth the price to buy because I know all items are priced cheap enough that I will buy if I like something. And I may just happen to pick up an item with the right color tag that will be half-price at the register. I can fill a cart to the brim with items and walk out spending less than fifty bucks. That goes down in the books as a bargain day for me!
Aside from the consistent pricing system, I also like thrift stores because of the variety of choices. You just never know what you'll find in a thrift store. It could be a dress from the 1970's who's style has come back in more recent years. It could be a jean jacket someone modified with patches, zippers or frays from the grunge era. Or it could be a piece that's from a current brand in great shape and oftentimes with the original retail store tag still on it. You are almost guaranteed to find something that fits your own personal style, and you'll get it for a low, low price.
One disadvantage to thrift stores can be the organization of their racks, or lack thereof. It seems to vary from store to store, but most thrift stores do minimal sorting before putting on racks. One of the Goodwill stores I go to organizes jeans, slacks and skirts by size, but their shirts, blazers, dresses and shoes are just put out on racks in big sections with no size or color organization whatsoever. It can be discouraging because you are forced to go through these racks piece by piece to find the clothes that are in your size and also suit your style. If I'm short on time, I find myself gravitating toward the pants because I know I'll be able to go right to my size and then sift through for styles I like. Sometimes, I'll ignore the tops and dresses completely because I don't want to hassle with or don't have time to check every size tag and style hanger by hanger.
The other disadvantage to bring up is that these stores are often "hit or miss" with successful finds. I can go to a thrift store five times, and I'll only leave with clothing one out of the five trips. The stock in these stores just depends on the amount and timing of donations from the public. If you can find out the days they receive a new truck of goods, you may be able to time your trips appropriately for a better chance to find brand names and current styles you like.
The disadvantages of thrift stores are definitely notable, but if you are consistent and take the time to sift through racks piece by piece, it's worth the adventure. I often find the act of searching for the bargains just as much fun as buying name brand clothes for a fraction of their retail price. You have to be willing to search through overflowing racks of old, shapeless clothing in order to find the gems hidden within.
But when you do find those gems, and you will, it's totally worth the time and money spent.
Part II: Consignment Shops will appear tomorrow. Come back soon!