I ♥ Shopping . . . Thrift Store Shopping

by Katy on February 5, 2012 · 38 comments

As a self-proclaimed “Non-Consumer,” I should probably keep this to myself, but man, do I love shopping! Browsing the aisles, scanning every shelf, keeping an eagle eye out for that elusive bargain. Pure heaven. And I can’t be certain, but there may be some serotonin release and iris dilation.

Wait . . . you do know that I referring to thrift store shopping, right?

Just yesterday I took my younger son out for an afternoon of thrifting. (From the verb “to thrift.”) He’s been indoctrinated for almost 14 years, so he was excited to be included in the day’s shenanigans.

Our first stop was going to be a certain poorly frequented, (but well donated) Goodwill, when we spied a sign for a school rummage sale. The selection was mostly little kids stuff, although I did pick up a new looking bandana for 25¢. (I use bandanas for school lunch napkins, and as can be expected, there’s a certain attrition rate.) There was also a largish old beveled mirror for $2.50 that I was thinking about buying, but then a woman butted in to tell me that she’d just bought it.

Bitch. Bless her heart.

The Goodwill which had been our original destination did not disappoint, as they had a large collection of comic books priced at five-for-a-dollar, instead for the normal 99¢ apiece. My son was able to find ten Green Lanterns, which made him a happy boy indeed. Me, I found six new looking Sur La Table cloth napkins for $4.99. I almost didn’t buy them, as this was not exactly a screaming deal, but our dinner napkins are starting to look a bit ragged, and a fresh infusion of pretty napkins would really smarten up the ol’ dinner table.

A quick stop into a small church thrift shop garnered me a sweet antique reverse painted art deco frame for 50¢, and perfectly matches a collection I already have. (I plan on arranging them all together and filling them with black and white photos of the family.)

Our last stop was the main Goodwill where my son found a Manchester United jersey for $4.99. (He pretty much only wears soccer jerseys these days, so this was an awesome find as a new one costs $80!) I bought a ceramic soap dispenser for $1.50, as I’m wanting to make a vintage Mason jar soap dispenser and I need a pump. However, I’ve decided to return it, as instead I’m going to look through our various lotion bottles to cannibalize from one we already own. (Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures when I’m done with the project!)

In all we spent:

  • Bandana — 25¢
  • Comic books — $2.00
  • Sur La Table napkins — $4.99
  • Soccer jersey — $4.99
  • Soap dispenser — $1.50

$13.73 (I’m counting the $1.50 from true soap dispenser as I haven’t had a chance to return it yet.)

Not exactly garage sale prices, but then again I checked and those napkins cost $5 apiece when bought new. And it was cheaper than if the two of us had gone to a single first run movie.

Man, do I love thrift shops!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol February 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Some great finds. I am surprised that you can return the soap dispenser to a GW. Around here, the only returnables are electronics, and you only have 48 hours to do so.


Katy February 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

No. The Portland area Goodwills give you 14 days to return an item, as long as it has the price tag and your original receipt. Quite nice, actually.



Su Mama February 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Sorry to inform you that the many Goodwills in Lincoln, Nebraska also have a no-return, no-exchange policy. Even after I explained to them How It’s Done In Portland, Oregon. Humph!


Karen February 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I found a quarter when we were taking Nate to soccer. I thought of you 🙂


Katy February 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm




Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Nice! How can a person NOT love thrift stores? My son loves them, too, and is always anxious to check out the puzzle aisle.


Laura February 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

If you are allergic to dust. I can barely walk in to donate. Perhaps that’s part of why I enjoy hearing about Katy’s finds!

But I do try consignment stores from time to time, and I’ve had better luck that way. And ebay is a good source for non fabric items too.


Carla February 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking my coffee when I got to your “bitch/ Bless” comment! ROTFL!!

Great deals! Especially on the jersey!! Wow! 🙂


Shari February 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Weekly thrift stop for me Friday after work…Abercrombie sweatshirt, Abercrombie boxers, America Eagle cotton sweater, American Eagle polo shirt, Patagonia organic cotton top and two men’s button down (Abercrombie, Hollister). All were in pristine condition. Zero, yes zero, dollars. Our Salvation Army has a loyalty card…collect 10 stamps on each $10 purchase and get a $20 credit. Had one to use.

Given what I can find in our thrift store, I cannot understand why people pay the prices in the store….or buy lesser quality goods at stores like Wal-Mart.

Pulled a large stack to donate this weekend after a recent growth spurt. Our Salvation Army also has a Tote Bag program…buy the bag for $10 and get a $3 credit each time you bring it in full. Yep. I’ll be stopping on my way home each day with a full bag for the next few weeks. I’ve earned at least $60 in credits from my bag to date and I’ll score another $15 this week.


EcoCatLady February 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I realize this may sound like frugal living blasphemy, but I have very mixed feelings about thrift store shopping. On the one hand it’s great because you can get lots of stuff without spending much money, on the other hand, it’s dangerous because you can get LOTS of stuff without spending much money!

I guess I just think that our culture puts way too much emphasis on stuff in general. And for me personally, even though I seldom “shop” I still find that I am tempted to bring home a bunch of crap that I don’t really need, especially when it’s so cheap. Yes – closet full of clothes with the thrift store tags still on them… I’m speaking to YOU!!

Seriously, I can’t count the number of times that I have brought home some thrift store “find” only to have it sit on a shelf unused because I didn’t really need it. The same thing happens with FreeCycle. Oh, the times I have driven across town to get some FreeCycle item, just because it was free… and there it sits, unused, mocking me and reminding me what an idiot I am every single day.

On the other hand, when you can find something that you really do need and save yourself the cost of buying it new, thrift stores are a godsend.

I guess I just think that recreational shopping in general is not all that good for my mental health, no matter what the cost of the goods, and at this point in my life I’m making a concerted effort to avoid it.


Katy February 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I’m pretty good about self control with what I bring home. I’ve worked too hard decluttering this house to undo it.



EcoCatLady February 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

You are a stronger woman than I!



Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I find that selling things online solves the problem. I get my shopping fix, make money, and while I’m looking for things to sell, I occasionally find something I want for myself. I understand completely, though, because it would hardly be worth it if I went only for stuff we need, because we don’t need anything (or not much of anything). Selling online is a fair amount of work, though, but for people who naturally like to sell things, I think it can be a good solution.


Madeline February 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Wow–Shari: I want YOUR thrift stores!

EcoLady-I know what you mean,shopping as a hobby is shopping as a hobby and I try to remember that even goodwill shopping is still ” looking for more stuff..”

Katy: What a WOWWIE DAY! I agree that when you have this list in your head of ongoing needs for the home,kids,etc. those thrift store days when you get to pick up items you really need,wear,use, at bargain basement prices are WOO HOO DAYS!


Barb February 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Lovin the napkins and the jersey especially……….


Trish February 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

REALLY interested in your soap dispenser project. Especially if it’s easy and cheap. Soap dispensers are not cheap! I scored a really cool one several years ago at TJ Maxx, it looks like a soda water dispenser.
I am an unfortunate individual who never finds interesting things at garage sales or thrift stores. Ok, that’s not completely true. At thrift stores I make a beeline for the books and have had some great buys there. And in all fairness I don’t go that often.


Linda February 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm

that’s the key, you have to go frequently. But practice self control or you’ll get yourseldf in throuble.


Jenny February 6, 2012 at 9:03 am

I would like to know about the soap dispenser project, too. Another how-to post in the future?


Jo February 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Amen! You got some dandy bargains.
I feel EcoCatLady’s pain, though. I used to buy more clothing than I needed, thinking I’d lose weight or alter it or use it for sewing. No more.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi February 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I can totally echo what EcoCatLady said! After finding your site, I felt so excited to go thrifting. Then I found that I bought way more than I actually used/needed. Even the stuff we “needed,” I bought too much of, like shoes for the boys. Now I try and keep a list of items I’m looking for and only vow to go on half price days. Otherwise, I avoid Goodwill like the plague. I can get out of Target with nothing, but send me into Goodwill, and I’m likely to leave with way too much!


Erin February 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Here’s my question — who else HATES shopping, thrift or otherwise? And I have two young kids (ages 5 and 8), opposite gender, with no hand-me-downs coming to me, so it’s not like I can never buy anything. I really, really hate shopping, and as a result end up buying most clothing online.

Has anyone managed to overcome this to become a thrifter, or is it just not in my future?


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land February 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm

My vote is to be glad you hate shopping, and keep doing what you’re doing. If you only buy what you need and wear it into the ground, you’re doing well enough. But, if you can find suitable used things online, even better.


Jo@simplybeingmum February 6, 2012 at 2:22 am

I hate shopping with a passion regardless of where I am doing it. Okay so online is not quite so bad, as it’s quick and simple most of the time. It would appear my daughter has inherited the gene also. It’s not a problem most of the time, just buy well so things last. One tip I do have is if you see someone wearing (or they have with them) something you may consider buying in the future ask them where they had it from even if you don’t know them. That has saved me endless hours of trawling through the internet – which also causes my brain to hurt!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary February 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

I rather hate shopping, too. I find it tiresome and dull. I really *want* to enjoy thrift store shopping, but the idea of going through all those unorganized racks to find something that is useful is completely overwhelming to me. I don’t even like shopping at Marshalls, and at least there the clothes are more-or-less separated into sizes.

Honestly, I’d rather spend my time doing just about anything else. My solution may not be for everyone, but it works for me: I buy a few things that are very high quality (even if expensive) and don’t go to stores unless absolutely necessary. The idea of spending a whole afternoon at garage/thrift stores just takes all the enjoyment out of my weekend.


Erin February 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

Thanks — it’s nice to know I’m not the only one! Yes, I buy good quality on sale (like, my kids usually only have two pairs of shoes at a time) and not donate them until the bitter end. Maybe as my kids get older and I have a little more free time, I will try to venture into some thrift stores. But maybe not. I’d rather go to the dentist!


Linda February 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm

You’ll show us the collection of Art Deco frames won’t you?


Katy February 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Yes. I am reinvigorated to finish this project!



Bauunny February 5, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I LOVE thrift and consignment shopping too! I do have to be careful not to get carried away with buying just because it is a super deal. I am always on the look out for “treasures”. I temper that with donating a lot. I get a big kick out of getting rid of stuff too….in fact I find eliminating clutter to be almost as invigorating as thrift shopping. This weekend I scored two nice winter jackets and a scarf for $7 at a locally owned ” teenage” thrift shop that had seasonal changeover 80% off sale. We have a family friend d who is doing an eagle scout project to collect warm clothing for a local mission. I have done such a good job of cleaning out closets I have little excess to give. I was thrilled to get these items so reasonably and to be able to support this good cause.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl February 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Nice photo, Katy!!!


Katy February 5, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Thanks. It’s all due to the “Sun-pocalypse” that we’ve been suffering through lately. 😉



Jo@simplybeingmum February 6, 2012 at 2:17 am

In my ‘previous’ life I was marketing manager for a chain of charity shops in the UK. There was an affectionate term used for charity shop afficianados which was “Chazzers”… so I presume the UK term for thrifting may be chazzing?


Katy February 6, 2012 at 6:45 am


Love it, must work it into a sentence.

“Sorry darling, I can’t meet up with you today. I have simply must go chazzing.”



ArdenLynn February 6, 2012 at 4:29 am

I wanted to do the Mason jar soap dispenser project. Have you priced the epoxy you are supposed to use? It was over $6 at Home Depot. One “cheap” project that went out the window.


Katy February 6, 2012 at 6:58 am

I already have epoxy, but I was planning on using hot glue.



Elaine in Ark February 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

Wow, you have much nicer thrift stores than we do. I check them out on an irregular basis, and usually don’t find anything. That doesn’t stop me from going back, though.

I share your enthusiasm for cloth napkins, too. People think I’m fancy-schmancy for wanting to use cloth, but they’re just plain BETTER. And they don’t make any difference in the towels & sheets laundry load, and since I only iron the really good ones that I use on holidays, there’s no extra work involved, either.


Katy February 6, 2012 at 8:24 am


I am very finicky about only washing them with sheets or towels as they have been known to transfer their greasy stains onto our clothing.



Cheapchick February 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

“Bitch. Bless her heart.” oh my, I nearly spit up laughing! Love the blog and absolutely love thrift shopping. I feel so out of sorts just frequenting a regular mall anymore.


Claudia February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

How I love, love, love thrift shops. Ours sells VHS tapes at FOUR for fifty cents. My kids have an astoundingly vast Disney library for only a couple of dollars. Sure, the picture quality is not as good as a DVD, but my four year olds really don’t care, and, at this price, I can own several movies for way less than the cost of a rental, support a good cause (it’s a charity thrift for people living with HIV/AIDS), AND have a fun movie to pass along to a similarly nonpicky friend if it’s something I don’t want to keep.


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