Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thrift Stores - Review of the Big Three

"It is better to have old second hand diamonds than none at all".
~  Mark Twain

I've blogged about my thrifted scores many times.  Let's talk about the stores - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I'm lucky to live in an area with lots of thrifting options - the big, name-brand ones and lots of small operations as well as all kinds of consignment stores.   I try to make the rounds regularly (harder now that I have a temporary full-time J.O.B. that requires my attendance every day)! 

The Goodwill, or the GW if you want to pretend that you shop at some chi-chi boutique, has been around forever.  I've been to several Goodwill stores that have relocated to nice digs in better locations, but ours isn't one of them.  Ours is sad, very sad, but I keep going back because I have stumbled on some fantastic finds, like the silverware  I blogged about here.  And check out this jacket from Two Star Dog that retails for $165 - mine from The GW for $10.99, pricey by their standards, but a serious score.

Lesson learned at The GW - if you see something in the donation pile that you want, get them to price it right away !  I walked away from a fantastic table because the clerk told me it would be priced "in the morning".  When I went back first thing in the morning,  I found out that someone smarter than me demanded they price the tablepronto  and she walked out with it right after I left.

Goodwill apparently doesn't toss out any donations, so you have to be willing to look past lots of yucky stuff - the kind  you can't imagine anyone buying in the first place!  But the treasures in the rubble keep me going back.

The Salvation Army  -  the SA Ltd, or Sally Ann's -  oh, how I wish I could give you a glowing review!  In a previous life I was an Emergency Department nurse, and I could always count on the Salvation Army to provide food and shelter for the sad souls everyone else had abandoned.  So I have a soft spot in my heart for this organization that does so much good.  But their thrift stores - OY!  Two major gripes, both deal-breakers.  The clothes are not grouped by size, or color, or anything.  So shoppers are forced to go hanger-by-hanger in the hopes of finding something in their size.  Second problem - price tags are stapled to the garments - and apparently they like the security of multiple staples!  In the past I have bought clothes only to have them ruined by even the most careful staple removal. I asked the manager about it and he said lots of people complain about the stapled tags, but  " we're not changing it any time soon".  Guess they must have a huge stock-pile of staples to use first.  So I cruise the perimeter, check out the home goods and the few racks up front with the "select" goods.  I never venture into the sea of clothes in the middle.

The newest kid on the block here is Savers, and frankly, I love it.  Unlike the GW and The SA Ltd., Savers is a for-profit retail store (that does have a commitment to charitable contributions).  It is far and away the most organized of the Big Three.  Clothes are grouped by size AND color, making it so easy to shop.  Need a large green shirt? No problem- no need to slog through all the other colors and sizes!  A great , well-organized book section, lots of home goods, linens, and craft supplies make it my favorite.  I've found lots of goodies here, like these boots - Belle  by Sigerson Morrison that retail for many times what I paid.  I found these by using my "which one of these isn't like the others" approach. I look for what's different - what doesn't really belong ! 

While I love shopping at Savers, I divide up my donations between Goodwill and The Salvation Army.  I figure the for-profit folks are doing fine without my additional contribution.

Happy thrifting!

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