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This week’s nifty thrifty lesson:


I can’t believe that I haven’t done this lesson yet.  Apologies for doing one of the most important things so late!  The way that clothes are priced at thrift stores can be tricky to understand.  This post will hopefully help you find your way around the prices at thrift stores and help you make good decisions.

How do thrift stores price their items?

Goodwill has an interesting way that they price their clothes.

  • Each section has a set base price, so all shirts are $3.99, all skirts are $7.99 etc.
  • Everything in the store has a barb or a sticker with a designated color.  The color of the barb/sticker does not indicate price!  Red, blue, yellow, whatever color barb is all the same price.
  • Each week a certain color is on sale: this is when the color of the barb is important.
  • Items that are more expensive will be marked with a specific price tag.

A Barb

These signs will be right when you walk in. Look for them to save!

A specific price tag. Exceptions to the regular pricing

Goodwill (annoyingly to thrifters) will frequently pick out higher end pieces and price them higher than their normal set prices.  This is why finding something that is designer that they’ve missed is even more exciting.  However, they don’t have specific designer racks like other thrift stores.  Higher priced things will be in the same racks as regular priced items.

Other thrift stores:

  • Will usually have a certain price on each piece of clothing.
  • May or may not have weekly specials, but you should always ask!
  • Usually have a sale section or $1 section either somewhere in the back of the store or outside on the sidewalk.
  • Frequently have racks dedicated to designer pieces.  This means you don’t have to search for them but also means that they are priced accordingly.  If designer brands are foreign to you, check out my post on designer brands.

$1 section at Out of the Closet

How much should I pay?

I find that when I’m shopping I usually have a price in my head that I refuse to spend more than on an item.  I usually spend no more than $3 on a shirt, $5 on a skirt, $7 on a dress, pants and jeans, shoes, jackets, and blazers.  If something is really high end I might spend up to $20, but that’s pretty much as much as I’ll spend, and only on something that would retail for over $100.  Having those set prices in your head will allow you to stay selective.  I can’t tell you what a great price is for a shirt because it’s totally relative.  If you need help, visiting my post on brands can help you figure out what you want to spend.

Do you have any other tips or rules you swear by?  Let me know!