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Today’s nifty thrifty lesson:

“Where to Shop?”

Goodwill and Salvation ArmyGoodwill and Salvation Army are chains of non-profit ‘charity shops’, which are located around the world.  Here’s how they work…people bring their unwanted items that can range from blouses to blenders to the store.  The store assigns a price to the items and then viola! you save tons of money while shopping at a great place.

Pros

  • many stores
  • wonderfully organized (by color!)
  • wide variety of clothing
  • men and women’s sections
  • clean
  • cheap
  • usually have specials (ex. everything with a green tag is 50% off on Tuesdays)

Cons

  • sometimes they have an (undeservedly) bad reputation
  • takes time to shop
  • clothing is not always organized by size
  • a lot of ‘junk’ to sift through

Private Thrift Stores-these privately owned stores are located usually in shopping areas of cities and towns.  They are usually not chains.  Battery Street Jeans Exchange is one of my favorite ones in Burlington, VT.

Pros

  • small, easy to maneuver
  • well organized
  • clean
  • cheap
  • local
  • funky, laid back

Cons

  • small
  • fewer choices
  • usually one gendered
  • stores can be difficult to find
Consignment Shops-these small shops work differently than thrift stores, although they tend to have similar merchandise.  You bring your unwanted clothing and accessories to them, they chose what they like and put your clothes in their store, and when (and if) your clothes sell…you get usually around 40% of the value in cash or 50% in store credit.  My absolute favorite consignment shop is Dirt Chic.  An example of a more expensive one is Second Time Around.
   Pros
  • possibility of getting store credit reduces your cost further
  • clothing is in good condition since it is hand picked
  • smallish
  • usually have a ‘back room’ of further reduced clothing they have not been able to sell within three months
  • well organized
  • usually selling by season
   Cons
  • can be more expensive than thrift stores, though not always.
  • smallish.
  • fewer choices since they frequently sell by season
Non-Consignment Stores-the name sounds silly, but these stores are sort of like consignment stores but are sort of not.  Instead of waiting until your clothing sells to give you cash or credit, they offer it to you up front.  Two great chains are Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange.
   Pros
  • clothing is trendy and in great condition.
  • well organized.
  • easy to find, many locations.
  • usually have a 50% section of clothing that hasn’t sold.
  • clean.
  • men and women’s sections
   Cons
  • more expensive than thrift stores.
  • age limited since they cater to young adults.
  • super trendy
Other Types: flea markets, vintage shops, garage and yard sales, and estate sales
Now…your challenge is to find what type or types of stores work best for you.  If you’re patient and want to spend as little as possible, I recommend Goodwill.  If you’re in a hurry to find trendy pieces, I would check out Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading Co.  If you’re like me, you can use a combination of the stores depending on what you’re looking for, how much money you have, your mood, time, etc.  
You really just have to get out there and find out for yourself.  It can absolutely be overwhelming, so soon I’ll post about how to shop in these stores.  Then you’ll be well on your way to saving loads and loads of cash.
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