Updated on 11.30.09

Six Reasons Why People Don’t Thrift

Trent Hamm

Over the past week, I’ve been conducting a quiet poll among friends and family concerning whether or not they shop at thrift stores. I received a few “yes” answers, but a surprisingly large number of “no” answers. Without arguing about the reasons, I also asked them why they didn’t shop at thrift stores and I found that there were six common answers. Here are those six reasons … and now I’ll argue why they’re completely false.

Thrift store stuff is dirty. I wash most things I buy no matter where I buy it. If I buy a new article of clothing, a towel, flatware, toys, or so on, I wash it in order to remove germs from others handling the item in the store and plastic and chemical residue. I do the same thing with thrift store stuff. Even if it is a bit dirty, so what? I’m thoroughly cleaning it anyway.

Wash thrift store items, just as you would wash many items purchased elsewhere.

Thrift store stuff is used. Yes, thrift store items are used. Do you throw out every item you have just because you used it once or twice? Probably not – unless you discover the shirt doesn’t fit you or the item doesn’t work for you. Then you just might be taking it to the thrift store.

Thrift store stuff is used, but a surprising amount of it is “barely used,” virtually indistinguishable from new.

Thrift store stuff doesn’t have the name brands my children (or I) must have. Let your children make that judgment. Take them to the thrift store and let them go crazy digging through the racks. Offer to buy them pretty much anything they find. You might just be shocked at what they find.

If you’re the one with the brand phobias, just go there and look around. I constantly find things I’m very happy to wear.

Buy what you like, not what the labels tell you to like.

Thrift store stuff is out of date. Most items simply go out of date – what exactly is an out-of-date knife? For items that do go out of date, they often have a “retro” cache (like an Atari 2600 console) or, like some clothes, they go in and out of style all the time.

Define for yourself what’s out of date and what isn’t – look at the items available and choose what you like.

Thrift store stuff is ugly. Yes, we’ve all seen the horribly tacky items that people proudly proclaim that they picked up at a thrift store. Guess what? You can’t blame a lack of taste on the retailer. If someone buys an ugly item, it’s the person’s lack of taste that is the problem, not the retailer.

Choose stuff you like and leave behind the stuff you don’t, just like at any retailer.

I don’t know where to start. Some people avoid thrift stores simply because they’ve never gone to one. If that’s you, it’s time to try something new, because thrift stores are often excellent places to find the very things you need.

Find a local store and make it a point to visit.

There’s really no reason not to give thrifting a shot – it’s a great way to find inexpensive things you need, you’re reusing items instead of throwing them in the landfills, and it’s a lot of fun to boot.

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  1. Kevin says:

    I just uncluttered my clothes closet and ended up with a ton of stuff for Goodwill… about 20 golf shirts – Callaway, Ashworth, Cutter and Buck, etc. in great shape; 15 pair of slacks – Geoffrey Beane, Greg Norman, Dockers etc. in like new condition; and a bunch of Harley tee shirts in great shape. Based upon the stuff I dropped off, it’s worth a look!!! And Trent, sorry, it’s caché, not cache. ;-)

  2. Jonathan says:

    Unfortunately I think there are a lot of people who refuse to shop at thrift stores because they feel that is beneath them.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I like thrifting…but a big drawback is that you need time to sift through everything to find the treasures. I recently had a day off and found two pairs of jeans — Tommy Hilfiger and Ann Taylor — paid $10 for both of them, and they look brand new. But, I had to have time to dig through the faded, in bad shape, jeans, to get those. So, the lack of time is the biggest draw back for me.

  4. Javi0084 says:

    Reason #7: Thrift stores are for poor people. At least that’s what some people think, I think.

  5. Jen says:

    I used to work at a Thrift store and we often had stuff with tags still on. I got a ton of mint condition Beatles albums and a record player to play them on. However the thing about washing stuff is spot on!! I know at our store they just sprayed the items with a little disinfectant stuff. I agree a lot of people think it is beneath them. People are SO funny. Who cares where your stuff comes from? Are you really THAT important? (the answer is no)

  6. thisisbeth says:

    Count me as #6. There are (were?) a couple of thrift stores in my hometown, but when I go there, shopping is never an activity high on my list. I need to find some local thrift stores. I need some new clothes, and I have no problem with used clothes.

    (Small children who are label snobs make me sad.)

  7. Jeroen says:

    @Javi0084: Actually, for me that *is* the reason (thrift stores are for poor people.) Not because I look down on poor people, but I don’t feel comfortable buying stuff that is meant for poorer people. It feels a bit like depriving them of the opportunity of buying stuff cheaply. Whereas I can simply buy it new, for a couple of EUROs more. It feels a bit like eating at a soup kitchen when you have the money to eat somewhere else.

  8. Johanna says:

    I’m not opposed to shopping at thrift stores. In England, where you can’t walk 20 feet without running into a “charity shop,” I shopped at them all the time – my favorites were the ones that sold nothing but books. But here are my reasons why I don’t frequent them so much anymore:

    1. I don’t have a car, and thrift stores tend to be difficult to get to by public transportation.
    2. Every time I have gone out of my way to visit a thrift store in my area, I’ve found that a lot of the clothing was stained or damaged, and I don’t like sorting through stuff like that.
    3. I prefer certain brands of clothing, not because “the labels tell me what to like,” but because I know that when I seek out those brands, I will find styles that I *already* like.
    4. Usually, when I go shopping for clothes, I’m looking for something specific – a suit for a job interview, for example, or a replacement for an article that I have that’s worn out. Since the odds of any one thrift store having what I want are fairly low, it’s not worth it for me to go way out of my way to visit a store that probably won’t have what I want.

  9. Little House says:

    I have to agree that thrift store shopping is time consuming, like #3 mentioned in her comment. However, if I am shopping for something in particular, like a desk or file cabinet, or even cookware, it seems to go a little quicker.

    As to items being retro as an excuse not to shop in a thrift store, sometimes older items are made of higher quality materials. Especially something like a cast iron griddle.

  10. Jessie says:

    @Jeroen: Actually, you shouldn’t worry at all about depriving poorer people of clothing and other goods by shopping at thrift stores. For example, the large majority (more than half) of the clothing that Goodwill receives is never sold in the US. It instead gets shipped off to places like Africa and dumped on the market there. This causes a real problem for clothing manufacturers in these less developed nations, because they cannot compete with our used clothing that’s practically free. Trust me, there is *plenty* of used stuff to go around.

  11. Katrina says:

    Tip: look for the goodwills and thrift shops in ‘wealthier’ sections of town. My favorite is in a very wealthy area, and I regularly find designer and brand name items, barely used. Some even still have the tags. They even have a special, ‘locked’ section for high end purses that show up. Coach, Dooney & Bourke, those cloth quilted floral ones that I can’t remember the name of. Usually in nearly mint condition.

    In fact, my outfit today includes of a pair of 100% wool, Banana Republic trousers that fit like a glove and a pair of Franco Sarto, leather ankle boots. Total cost: $5, from Goodwill.

    And while my fellow customers usually include people who look like they might need to shop at a Goodwill more than I do, I also regularly shop with well-groomed women who I suspect live in the area. They don’t stay wealthy by spending all their money when they can get the same look for pennies on the dollar, you know. It’s all about getting over your pride and getting a good deal on what you like.

  12. Chris says:

    I love thrift stores. They are usually very quiet and not crowded. The clothes and shoes are usually already broken in so you don’t have to do that. I’ve bought many kitchen items there as well, such as a blender, a crock pot, etc. and the prices were excellent.

  13. danielle says:

    Sometimes I find it less expensive to shop the clearance racks of clothes @ Kohl’s, Walmart, Target, and even some of the nicer mall stores than to shop the thrift stores, and the items are new. That being said, a good chunk of my wardrobe is thrift items. My goodwill has pants for $7. There are lots of places I can buy pants for $7 or less.

  14. leslie says:

    I agree with Jennifer (#3) above. I just don’t have the time to sift through everything at a thrift store.

    Also, in my area, thrift stores seem to be geared more towards children’s clothing.

  15. *sara* says:

    Thrift stores are especially great for furniture and housewares – if you’ve got $100 to spend, you’ll likely find a nice quality hardwood piece with some stylish details at a thrift store. Take that $100 to target or ikea, and if you can find anything for that price, it will be made of cheap pressboard that will probably chip or break after a few years.

    Also, after working in the merchandising field where our products were made in factories in China, I’ll add that new products aren’t exactly made in sterile conditions. Most are made and assembled by hand (and who knows where those hands have been!) and are stored in dirty, chemical-y factories until they’re packaged inside those nice clean looking plastic packages. Then they’re shipped overseas on huge barges (rats? sailors?) unloaded into warehouses and then put on the shelf where anyone can touch and put on or take home and use and then return…

    So thrift stores are not necessary any dirtier than any new goods

  16. Alex says:

    When I need clothes I need a specific thing-a shirt or a pair of well fitting jeans. Thrift stores almost never have these. I find the only way to shop at a thrift store is to go in with a vague idea of what you want and just start getting everything that fits.

  17. Alexandra says:

    @Kevin : actually, it’s cachet, not caché (that means hidden). signed, a french person.

  18. Ben says:

    Much agreement the biggest issue is selection. You know there will be X widget at Wal Mart and it’s a crap shoot whether it’s at the thrifty store.

    With that said, there are certain items that are most certainly at a thrift store clothes, common board games, etc. among them, so the argument against thrift stores isn’t universal.

    Also, we make purchases as we develop needs. If we allowed some time between the development of the need and the purchase, consumer could keep an eye out at the thrift store for any number of items and purchase them as they become available.

  19. Dan says:

    Thrift stores are for the less fortunate. It’s a fact. What I like about thrift stores, however, is that whatever I end up purchasing there, turns into cash that the thrift store can put to better use.

    So…it’s a double whammy in the “giving” category…which is what I think thrift stores are all about.

  20. Beth says:

    My barrier to thrift store shopping is time. I’m common size and can’t usually find clothing that fits — plus I’m usually searching for clothes to fill a need rather than impulse purchases.

    I’ve had better luck shopping consignment and through online classifieds. I wonder if people are more focussed on selling their stuff rather than donating it these days?

  21. annk says:

    Cachet, not cache!!! Please take a few minutes to proofread. You undermine your credibility with errors such as this.

  22. I’m not a brand snob by any means, but a familiar brand name can be a useful (if sometimes limited) way to gauge the quality/durability/etc. of an item. That’s not to say an unfamiliar brand would necessarily be good or bad, but it does represent an unknown. That said, if I’m picking up a 25 cent shirt to be worn while painting a barn, the brand won’t matter much either way.

  23. T says:

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but there are some butt-ugly things displayed for sale in department stores, too. I get why you find ugly/out of style things in thrift stores, but the department stores have no excuse. :)

    I love thrift stores – the price is right.

  24. KC says:

    I don’t buy much stuff. I’ve accumulated what I need through the years as far as household needs (pots, pans, decorative elements, even electronics). I don’t buy many clothes at all and when I do I want certain things (not brands, but certain fits and styles – like I play tennis and need workout pants with pockets in them). I’m sure I can find these things at thrifts, but I don’t have the time or patience to look for them.

    Another alternative would be for me to routinely stop at thrifts and just look, but then I think I would be tempted to spend more. I just choose to focus on my needs in life and buy them at that time – getting the best deal available even if it isn’t such a great deal.

  25. Kacie says:

    Some thrift stores are gross and not worth a visit, but some are clean, well-organized GOLD MINES. Seek them out!

    If someone is really wary of a traditional thrift store, maybe they could start with a consignment shop.

    These items are also second-hand, but often of higher quality (and higher price).

    Oh, and they do have brand names at thrift stores all the time.

    I picked up a Calvin Klein jacket for my husband the other day, for example.

  26. Jessica says:

    I occasionally hit up Goodwill, but I’m generally not a thrift store shopper.

    Time and selection, like others mentioned is the major drawback for me. I don’t shop for fun or sport, so cruising into the thrift store just to see what’s there isn’t for me. I have a hard enough time finding clothing I like in department stores (and that fits), and it’s twice as hard to find something in a thrift store.

    I agree with Beth too, more people do seem interested in selling their stuff (craigslist and ebay), and I’ve had better luck finding what I want via those methods than thrift shops.

  27. Daner says:

    Well, the fewer people who shop at thrift store the more (and the cheaper) stuff for me :)

  28. kristine says:

    Sarah- spot on about washing the new stuff. The checmical that keeps your dyes from fading on the trip, and insects on the ship from nesting in your new garments is formaldehyde- just like what they pickle the dissection frogs in. And yes, the factories are FILTHY. I speak from a first hand perspective- a factory tour in Hong Kong in my garment district days.

    Annk- my second career (now on carrer 3- teaching) was as Creative Director for the top 5 book clubs (the advertising end of it). I can assure you, as having seen hundreds of reader’s copy manuscripts and proofs, that almsot all writers need serious editing for typos and mistakes. And most published bestsellers have typos too- it was almost a game to find them after it was printed. It comes under the category of diminishing return- you might miss one or two mistakes, but the book will print on time, and that saves money. Too much proofing can result in unecessary reworks to the point where the text loses all spontaneity. If the content is good, I’ll take 95%.

    Trent- Why don’t you get an intern to proof for you? Second set of eyes and all. Besides, it will help some student get a precious line on their resume!

  29. Maureen says:

    Part of the fun of shopping in thrift stores is finding the unexpected. My husband was delighted to find a $400 Roomba at a local thrift store for $50. He had to replace the battery pack and one electrical part (he’s very skilled in this area anyway) and it purrs along like new. I know he’s been eager to buy one for a couple of years now but balked at the price.

    We have found great deals on clothing (some brand new), books, and home decor. Sometimes, we don’t find anything to suit our personal taste. That can happen at the mall too.

    We also regularly donate items to charities that sell the items to the thrift stores. So when I shop at certain thrift stores I am also supporting the Diabetes Assoc. or Community Living (for disabled persons). I think it is much better to circulate usable items than have them end up in landfill.

    We have also found many super deals at garage sales, but unfortunately the weather rules them out between Oct. and April. They are even better because they are tax free and the prices are negotiable.

  30. Andrea says:

    I do buy things at thrift stores — one of my favorite “new” shirts is from one — but you are underestimating the level of dirty with your reply to #1.

    Thrift stores smell musty, sometimes even moldy. My hands feel disgusting after I’ve been looking through racks at the thrift store. Even the nicest thrift stores I’ve been to make me feel this way. Sure, there are chemicals and other-customer-cooties to wash off when you buy something at Target, but you can shop at Target and then proceed to the rest of your errands without feeling like you need to scrub down and throw your new purchases directly into the laundry machine.

    The specific-item issue is also a fair critique. You have to go in without very strong parameters on what you’re looking for if you don’t want to walk out disappointed. If you’re just browsing for “clothes that fit and look OK” you’ll be happier than if you need “a blue dress shirt, size 26.”

  31. ej says:

    I do thrift and have for decades. Especially when I go to a big city (once every year or 2).

    Until now – living in a rural area with only 2 smallish towns nearby. The thrift stores here are so picked over it is depressing.
    On the other hand I guess it means people are shopping there.

    So other reason not to thrift

    1. others need items more than I do
    2. in poor or rural areas there aren’t any good thrift stores or maybe even none at all

  32. chacha1 says:

    I used to thrift a lot, back in my student days. Now few things are left in my home that were acquired that way, mostly books and my china. (Vintage china = cheap and beautiful! 12 8-piece place settings plus serving dishes for $400!)

    Like others who’ve commented, I’m at the point now where I only go out shopping if I’m looking for something specific. When a shopping trip is required, I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right thing at the mall. I even enjoy the mall atmosphere, once a year or so.

    Thrift/consignment/antique stores can be a bit short on atmosphere, but I’m a fan – especially for students and retirees, because they’re actually a great place to meet people.

  33. Debbie M says:

    @Jeroen, some thrift stores are there to help poor people, but they do it by giving them jobs or donating the profits.

    @Trent, you have not undermined your credibility with me just because you don’t (didn’t) know how to spell cachet. That’s partly because I don’t come here for spelling lessons.

    I find that all shopping takes time. I am actually less likely to find clothing I’m looking for in a mall, which has only the “in” colors, etc.

    Thrift shops are definitely better for some things than others. I go there for clothes, towels, glass glasses, organizational things (like wine racks), and office things (like hole punches). I haven’t had any luck looking for things like Teflon pans, toaster ovens, sheets, or curtains.

    I second the notion that not all thrift stores are alike. I’m lucky enough to live in a place that has a few shops better than Goodwill (better prices with equal or better selection). But then we also have a few with just a small quantity of cutesy, overpriced things. Try at least three before you give up. Bring a friend—preferably one who likes thrift stores, but you can also have fun showing each other hideous things until one of you says, “Wait, this one is actually good.”

    Note that some accept cash only, some don’t have dressing rooms (where something tight over which you can try on clothing), and we have one that has no bathroom. Once you know the rules, it’s much easier to deal with them.

  34. Debbie M says:

    Arg, now I misspelled “wear.” Apologies.

  35. Isha says:

    Another reason to not shop at thrift stores is that everything’s so cheap it’s tempting to buy too much! (…well, that’s a problem for me, anyway)

  36. Kacie says:

    Oh, and for people who complain about trash and worn, stained things at thrift stores: Be sure you’re not donating those sorts of things! Only donate it if you’re sure that someone would find value in it.

    And truly, some thrift stores are better about keeping out the trash.

  37. Melody says:

    I can rarely find what I want/need. I wanted gloves last winter and no thrift store had even one pair. I bought a used backpack and the zipper broke within 3 days. I don’t enjoy recreational shopping, so when I need or want something and can afford it, I just get it new.

  38. Alexandra says:

    Thrift stores smell. The smell alone stops me from purchasing things there – they obviously don’t wash the clothes before selling them. I don’t even want to touch unwashed clothing. My imagination runs wild and it makes me feel gross.

  39. Anna says:

    @ #13 Danielle, I agree. I don’t shop at Goodwill because I am frugal, why would I buy a used and smelly, in my personal opinion the Goodwills around here smell and its a smell that even after several washes you can’t get out of your clothing, item of clothing for the same price I could buy a new item that is exactly what I want? I don’t shop to shop, I shop because I need something and if I can buy it brand new at the mall for the same price as Goodwill who is WAY OVERPRICED for a dirty stained t-shirt $4 or worn jeans $8. I can buy a brand new t-shirt for $6 or 8 and jeans for $12. My mom is famous for her Quarter Garage Sales, she sells all her clothing items (even practically new designer jeans that no longer fit) for a quarter. People, especially those less fortunate, will come by and stock up on the clothing in there sizes, way cheaper than anything at Goodwill and in better shape in my experience.

  40. Anastasia says:

    I have not found many things to purchase at the local Goodwill, but the used DVD and game store totally rocks! :)

  41. Kay says:

    I’m glad it just not me that thinks that thrift shops often smell. I could just never get over that smell.

    Also, we got a bed bug infestation (probably after visiting London where it is very common) and those guys are nearly impossible to get rid of. They are starting to make a come back in the US and now we feel you can’t be too careful. There are some things I would never buy used now, unless from a good friend – couches, mattresses, maybe even clothes. I would rather pay full price and save $$$ on extermination later. Of course, with clothes, as long as you wash them on a high enough temp, it’s fine, but still … My husband is still terrified of those bugs and we haven’t had any bugs in our apartment for years now. And for clothes, if you shop clearance, you can get cheap anyways, at least I do for the kids.

  42. J says:

    I’m really surprised that “thrifting takes too much time” was not a more common response. In my experience, thrift stores are a step above garage sales for finding things. As much as I would love to spend time going from one garage sale to another, or one thrift store to another, I can’t possibly justify spending hours looking around for Stuff. Add in a four year old and a two year old, plus juggling parental responsibilities, work, fitness, cooking and so on, and digging for a “find” at a thrift shop falls right down the list of priorities. I’d rather spend time reading a book, exercising, playing with my kids, cleaning the house or spending time with my wife. I don’t even get to THOSE things all the time!

    With the Internet — Craigslist, Amazon, freecycle and the ability to shop online and compare prices, thrifting really loses value quickly.

    Also, we are actively reducing clutter in our house. More Stuff, no matter what a “deal” it might have been, just adds to it.

  43. Kat says:

    Thrift stores are smelly and dirty and yes, I think of it as lower class. I would never donate items in teh quality that they are selling in my area. Consignment shops are also used goods, but they were sold to the shop, and are of better quality, especially if you are near a rich town (Jimmy Choos for 90% off, Coach bags from 1 season ago, etc). Apparently rich people are thrfty sometimes too, selling their “used” clothing rather than donating it (the thrift stores have stained tshirts that probably cost $5 to buy new, not interested!).

  44. Dan says:

    @ kristine #28

    sorry…big lol…



  45. Stella says:

    we’ve made lots of donations over the year to thrift shops of all kinds. We also used to shop there quite a lot and over the years found some seriously good buys.

    However, the quality has changed and I can understand how some people can be put off by the grunginess of some places.

    The issue of bedbugs is NOT a small one, but I hate to say it: You can get bed bugs from NEW clothing and household goods (dozens of ways for this to happen and it has happened to people who have spent huge somes of money on merchandise).

    Bed bugs do not discriminate by income level, your geographic location or ethnicity–although some people seem to think they do and are therefore, because of income, wealth or socio-economic “class” immune. Surprise! Wealthy people who travel, for example, are big carriers of bedbugs. And that includes you folks who stay in five-star hotels.

    In NYC, bedbugs have shown up in Park Avenue penthouses as well as the “projects” Ah. True equality.

    As for who shops thrift stores. The idea that it is only the poor or needy is so funny as we’ve seen people we know who have tons of money. They just love a bargain.

    The thriftiest (and also stingiest) people I know have TONS of money. I mean TONS. They just refuse to waste a penny more of it than necessary.

    You have to stop looking down on thrift stores before you can enjoy shopping at them. Yea, it’s time-consuming, you have to be very careful and it requires work to clean stuff up and get it home.

    But when you do find a bargain, youza.

    Meanwhile, if we all tried recyling our stuff among friends first that might help. And as someone said, don’t donate anything that is in bad shape (we’ve actually washed and dry cleaned stuff before donating).

  46. Adam says:

    Do outlet malls count as thrift stores?

  47. Jim says:

    I agree with Katrina that finding the thrift store in the more affluent side of town is a good tactic. For me it takes some time and persistence to find the good stuff and thats part of the trade off to get bargains. Stores around here aren’t smelly and the clothes aren’t stained or dirty. But the fashions may be way out of date or they may be worn.

  48. Vicky says:

    I love thrift stores!

    I get tons of clothes and sheets that I cut up and make ‘new’ again with a handy pair of scissors and my sewing machine!

    Old sheets become pet beds, curtains, sofa covers – old towels become feather dusters and mop heads, old jeans make great purses, old shoes can be refurbished into amazing new creations!

  49. Alice says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that buying used clothes is good for the environment. There are a lot of perfectly good articles of clothing at thrift and consignment stores, as others have already mentioned. Constantly buying new items is a huge waste of resources. Sometimes you want an item that isn’t available used, so of course buy new, but otherwise, think of buying used as recycling.

  50. graytham says:

    I can’t believe people are jumping all over Trent for making a little spelling/word mistake. The guy provides wonderful information day after day (the reason you nitpickers are here in the first place) and on the rare occasion when he misspells something or uses the wrong word you say he’s “undermining his credibility”? Unbelievable! He’s a human being, after all- give the guy a break!

  51. Money Funk says:

    You really can find some great deals at the thrift store. My friends are always amazed at my finds. Thrift shopping also allows me blow little money for lots of stuff – instant gratification!

    Tip: shop different thrift stores and find one that suits your needs. Some are better than others. I have 2 great thrift stores, here in So Cal, that I would drive the distant just to score great stuff!.

  52. beth says:

    I wish I could shop in thrift stores more, but I have a hard enough time finding clothes in a 16-Tall at the mall and specialty shops. It’s just depressing to sift through rack after rack of too-skinny or too-short clothes no matter what the price, so I keep all of my clothing shopping to the 2 or 3 retail stores where I stand some chance of finding things in my size. (Same with shoes, winter gear, sports equipment, and even cars. At 5’11”, I’m the 2nd-shortest in the house these days.)

    I used to hit the thrift shops when I was furniture shopping, but the quality and prices are so spotty that I tend to have better luck with Craigslist and Ikea.

    At this point, the only thing that we find the thrift shops good for is costuming (which one of my daughters does a lot). You are expecting to assault whatever you buy with a sewing machine and/or a hot glue gun anyway, so you have some more flexibility in getting the right look and size.

  53. marta says:

    @graham #50: “Undermining his credibility” is, indeed, too harsh. However, I really wish Trent would spend more time editing and proofreading his posts. I know he has said before he believes blog posts should be fresh and spontaneous, but far too many posts are riddled with grammatical mistakes, misused words, typos, misspellings and, in some cases, cut-off sentences. That can be too distracting and get in the way of the message. It’s not *that* rare. It just screams “sloppy”.

    Also, I’ve noticed that, even after readers call him out on something like that, the post will often remain unchanged. I don’t really understand why.

    This is intended to be constructive criticism, by the way.

  54. Maggie says:

    THe thrifts near me are way overpriced, often store brands from Target or Walmart for just a few bucks less than new. So on the advice of a friend I went to a big thrift out near where my son goes to school in the next county. I got a little overwhelmed by the hugeness of the place, but did find a large roll of velvet ribbon for Christmas for $1 (one of the large rolls of wide stuff like a florist would buy.)

    I am scared to go back now, as the two women in front of me in line got into a fist fight over whose turn it was.

  55. Noadi says:

    I can’t think of the number of things I’ve seen at thrift stores with the original tags still on it. I found this gorgeous black silk blouse for like 30 cents once with the tag still on.

    I love vintage looks and can sew well so finding stuff isn’t a problem. Anything a size or two bigger or too long I can usually tailor to fit me.

  56. friend says:

    I like Kristine’s idea & hope Trent will think about it. A local college English major would LOVE to proofread for you, probably for just a small fee. Why be embarrassed by little typos that distract the readers?

  57. Kevin says:

    @Alexandra (#17) aarrrggghhhh! You are so right! Thanks for the correction.

  58. Serena says:

    New clothes are far worse then used as far as what needs to be washed out of them. New clothing is “sized” with some pretty nasty chemicals such as formaldehyde.

    Wash everything you buy before you wear it and never leave dry cleaning hanging in the plastic bags. Dry cleaners use it too.

    In fact, if you want to be frugal don’t buy “Dry Clean Only” clothing at all.

  59. kat says:

    I work Ren fairs in the summer and have found great stuff to rework at local thrift stores, I will pay more for a used high quality item than a new cheaply made one at a department store. I am convinced however, that all clothing for women is size 2. (too big, too small, too long or too short. I do sew, so I can change too big or too long to something that does fit. As long as I can score real silk tee shirts for $1.00 each, I will continue to hit the thrift stores in my area.

  60. kristine says:

    #44 Dan- Ha! There are several typos, actually. It is clear from all my comments that I never proof-read in informal settings. Life is too short!

    I shop at a Goodwill on Long Island’s gold coast. Gorgeous designer and name brand clothes. I love my 2 dollar Banana Republic skirt, and Anne Klein blazer. I build in the price of dry-cleaning wool items to see if it is still worth. Got a terrific new leather jacket at a Salvation Army in a poor neighborhood.

    I am almost always looking for a specific item, and the thrill of the hunt is fun!

  61. Bill says:

    I think all the people complaining about the spelling are clearly “Concern Trolls” Trent warned us of. Possibly all of them AND the people “misspelling” in the comments are actually one clever “Concern Troll” don’t be fooled!

    I couldn’t care less about clothing. I wear it till my wife throws it out and “new” clothes appear. Most of it is used which is fine with me. My wife and daughter look at it more like a sport, they can shop for deals for hours on end.

  62. BD says:

    Thrift stores are pretty awesome, and I’ve made some great finds in there. But for those of you complaining about that icky thrift store smell and tons of time spent browsing, just use eBay. You can quickly search for whatever brand and size you want, and often get great deals on almost new, non-smelly clothing. I’ve bought many a pair of practically new Gap Jeans for around $12.00 (that’s including shipping) off of eBay. Slightly more expensive than a thrift store but so much quicker and convenient.

  63. Rose DeShaw says:

    Having read these insightful comments, I can say, ‘thrift stores are for e-bayers. It’s a fact. These well-dressed ‘pickers’ are easy to spot in their designer outfits, scooping up the good jewelry, all the hand-knitted shawls and so forth. I don’t resent people just trying to make a living (though I’m uncomfortable when they haggle at the cash at the Salvation Army Thrifts when everyone knows every cent these dear folks make goes to help the poor. It isn’t the STORE that’s for the poor half as much as the PROFITS. So these e-bayers, whose numbers are multiple, really do a lot of good. I was raised with thrift stores and never buy anything new unless I’ve checked it out secondhand for several days first. All my appliances especially kitchenware. We’ve always bought used mattresses and not ever even once encountered ‘bugs.’ Of course your ‘wash it first’ is key to thrift shop stuff. I’m always being asked where I get my one-of-a-kind outfits and I’m happy to tell them about the ’boutiques’ I frequent. We could do with a little less of this, ‘for the poor’ stuff and more of ‘for the economy.’ Rose DeShaw

  64. Rose DeShaw says:

    Read through the comments again and can’t help but add that the ‘soup’ kitchens in our town ask that members of the community come when they can so it isn’t SEEN as a ‘soup’ kitchen, a humiliating experience, but as a restaurant where the community drops in. They charge a buck for a meal so it is easy to slip them a tenner for yours, thereby increasing their revenues and making the needy folks around you feel 100% better that you’re eating what they’re eating. Plus it gives a face to this ‘poor’ we all seem to feel charitable about. Folks like you and I. Rose DeShaw

  65. Chris Cruz says:

    Thifting is a very niche thing and not many people have the patience or time to search and dig for something they need at a thrift store.

    I think the real issue is buying used. I know tons of people that refuse to buy used and will go down in overall quality just to buy Brand New. With search tools like Craigslist and Ebay you can find Exactly the things you want for fractions of the price without having to dig through thrift stores or spend 1/2 day at garage sales. I bought a Macbook for $300 that most of my friends bought for over $1000 and still paying it off. Most of my electronics and gadgets are used but nobody can tell because “used” doesn’t affect the performance. I got a PS3 slim for $200 off Craigslist. If you buy high quality used stuff it will last you longer than a lesser quality brand new item.

  66. Jeroen says:

    Thanks all for pointing it out to me: if the thrift store is indeed a non-profit organisation, I don’t have to feel like I’m robbing the poor.

  67. deRuiter says:

    Thrifts are great, resale shops are a step higher and generally smell better and have a better quality of stock. Buying used is great for the American economy. Why give your money to the Chinese government for slave labor made new things? Buy used, keep the money in America, give it directly to an American. Helps our balance of trade, keeps the landfills emptier, keeps the environment cleaner. Energy is required to make new things, resale stuff is energy neutral. Read the book “The Millionaire Next Door” again and learn how many rich families are very thrifty!

  68. Alexandra says:

    Just a little correction/clarification to my post. I wasn’t jumping all over Trent for not knowing how to spell cachet. In fact I wouldn’t have noticed at all (I skim read a lot on blogs)
    I was more annoyed at the commenter correcting Trent and not even giving the correct spelling ;)

  69. Henry says:

    My main problem with the local Goodwill is the prices. I don’t go there for clothes, but I will buy old china and ‘salvage’ items. The problem with that is the staff has no idea what new items cost at the Wal-Mart right across the street. They’ll actually price a broken candle at .50 when a new one goes for .33. That cocktail shaker with a dent and missing lid that is $9 at Wal-Mart? $15 at the Goodwill. It would be okay if it was a starting point to haggle, but it’s not. The only way I’ve found to haggle at Goodwill is to find the Manager, ask how much and when he tells you, act really put off by the price, and say “I’d only give xx amount.” Usually he will say okay, especially if you’re buying multiple items or a set where the items are priced individually.

    Good god, they get this broken crap for free and think they should get high-end retail prices for it. Because of their attitudes, my yard sale leftovers wind up in dumpsters before I will give to them.

    The pricing problem is a direct result of Goodwill using people sentenced to community service by the courts that have no idea what household goods are worth since their whole economy revolves around drugs and cigarettes, or just don’t care.

    @#7 I used to go to the Salvation Army for free lunch every other day. Then my neighbor took a spell of volunteering there and I had to stop after they’d see me down there getting free lunch at noon and then toting cases of beer into my house in the evening.

    @#45 The reason there are so many bedbugs in 5 star hotels is because those wealthy travelers are picking up hookers that spend every other night in a 5 star with their clients and every other night in a flophouse.

  70. Lily says:

    A good friend told me he disliked going into thrift stores because to him they are “depressing.” Sounds like there might be some deeper psych issue going on in his head.

    My husband needed 2 thermal undershirts to wear under his clothing because he’s riding a motorcycle to work and it’s getting cold here in the Southwest. My daughter talked me into checking out some thrift stores. We had several errands to run yesterday so along our destinations we stopped at 3 thrift shops and found two fantastic, perfect undershirts (each $3) and a brand new potato masher that I needed for $1.

    Hubby is often snooty about wearing used clothing, but I washed them and they smelled fresh and felt soft. And since we are on the tightest budget ever, he praised my efforts because he really needed those shirts and he seemed to really like them.

  71. Evita says:

    Well….. I frequently deposits items to charity stores but I rarely buy there. They are for poor people and I don’t want to deprive them of anything of value since I can pay for my own stuff. The rare times I have bought anything, I also gave a donation to the store (Salvation Army).
    And I honestly don’t want to wear clothing that unknown people have worn! squeamish, I know…

  72. cyd says:

    when i was at a bus stop one day, i was talking w/ a guy, telling him about a thrift store shirt i had bought for only $2, after watching that same shirt in a catalogue drop in price from $24 down to $18. he actually thought that Palais Royal (an upscale designer clothing discounter here in houston) was a thrift store. LOL. i then had to explain to him the difference btwn palais royal, tj maxx, marshalls, and the like and what an actual thrift store was. he actually had no idea what a thrift store was and this is a guy obviously from a low-income background. i couldnt believe it! he sure had been wasting massive amounts of $$$ I’m sure he didnt have on his wardrobe(and getting himself deeper and deeper in debt). i told him if he started shopping at thrift stores, he could save a whole lot of $$$ and buy himself a car w/ the $$$ he saved.

  73. Claire says:

    My only complaint about thrift stores is that most of them do not organize their clothing by size, but by color. That’s what makes shopping there so time-consuming.

  74. Andrea says:

    Rose DeShaw, your community’s “Soup Kitchen” restaurant sounds so amazing. Where’s it located and what is it called? Do they have a website?

  75. Jessica says:

    By shopping thrift stores, I have many name brand items in very good condition. I can dress in nicer clothes, even as a broke law student.

    For instance, this week I purchased a Banana Republic button-down for $4, Gap jeans for $3, Steve Madden Shoes for $10, and an Old Navy shirt for $2, with the original price tag attached. The used items all look like new too. The great deals I found were definitely worth sifting through a few racks of clothing!

  76. Anna says:

    @ #63 Rose DeShaw
    “though I’m uncomfortable when they haggle at the cash at the Salvation Army Thrifts when everyone knows every cent these dear folks make goes to help the poor.”

    better check up on that dear old Salvation Army you are so proud to support, they are actually a religion and only a portion of their donations help the poor, the rest of it goes directly to their church, something they DO NOT advertise!!

  77. Rose DeShaw says:

    Oh my, Henry’s world of hookers & cynicism seems to pinch like a new pair of shoes. Our ‘soup kitchen’ is called ‘Martha’s Table’ and is located downtown in Kingston, Ontario. We raised enough funds to buy the building so they do not have to pay rent. Many now clean & sober individuals actually are employed there, cooking & serving. And yes, (duh) I DO know the Sally Ann is a religion. How this comment made my day! I’m talking about what I see in practice with them – if every church was so directly connected with the ‘poor’ and troubled, did so much good in the community. I don’t notice them pushing their ‘religion’ on anyone either. Still not far from the way they’re depicted in ‘Guys & Dolls.’ Nope, they truly help without demeaning anyone as does Goodwill. I don’t want to imagine a world without such helping hands and what I know, I know from first hand experience, being one of the ‘helped,’ when I was young and needy.

  78. Andrew says:

    I’ve tried many a time to find good clothes at thrift stores, but don’t seem to have the luck with men’s clothes to mirror the absolute bargains that my wife finds in the women’s section. Seems that every time I accompany her to Goodwill or Salvation Army, the men’s section is full of stained and frayed choices. I have better luck on Ebay and one particular consignment store.

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