Are you looking for items for your home on a tight budget? Do the kids need clothes, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money? Are you starting out on your own and need houseware at an affordable price? Throwing a party and need some serving pieces, but don’t want to spend a lot (and don’t want to use plastic or paper)? Or do you just love to shop and find a great deal? If you said, “yes” to any of these, or similar situations, then resale store shopping may be your answer (and your new best friend).
Resale stores have been around for a long time and are a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. While some folks may never consider resale shopping, many people not only shop resale but really love it. There is no typical retail shopper. According to NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals, 16% – 18% of Americans shop at thrift stores each year, and 12 – 15% shop consignment/resale stores. Apparel stores (19.6%), and major department stores (21.3%) still see the majority of business, but resale stores see more business than factory outlet malls (11.4%).
Understanding Resale Terms
Resale shop – a store that buys merchandise from individual owners
Not-for-Profit shop – often referred to as “thrift shops” these stores are run by an IRS designated 501(c)3 organization to fund charitable causes. Not-for-profits get their inventory from donations or can operate on a consignment basis.
Consignment shops – get inventory from individuals to sell on a consignment basis, paying the owner a percentage when and if items are sold or by purchasing outright from owners or wholesalers
Regardless of which route(s) you choose, resale shopping is good for a variety of reasons. Resale stores offer an environmentally friendly shopping option, as gently used items, from apparel to furniture to other consumer goods, reduce landfill waste and the environmental cost of the production of items. Resale stores also offer opportunities for you to show your creativity and style by mixing and matching items from different eras. And, of course, resale stores are easier on your wallet, which can help improve the quality of your life. Finally, resale stores run by charitable organizations provide or support important services in the community.
To help make the most of your resale shopping outings, consider the following tips:
- Consider resale stores in the nicer areas of town, as they tend to have better inventory, and are less picked through.
- Shop thrift stores outside of your immediate area. Inventory varies from area to area, increasing the variety of choices.
- Talk with store employees to find out when the largest amount of new merchandise is available, and when the items you are interested in will be discounted.
- Sign up for email mailing lists so you are notified of sales and special promotions.
- Return often. Items move in and out rapidly, so check back if you’re looking for a particular item.
- Find an item you’re wanting? Get it! Chances are it won’t be there the next time you go.
- Shop at the change of seasons when people are likely to clean out and give items away.
- To find thrift stores near you, go to: http://www.thethriftshopper.com. Enter your zip code to find thrift stores in your area with hours, locations, how to sign up for mailing list, and reviews from other shoppers
- When shopping for clothes, wear simple clothing and shoes, such as a tank top and leggings. This allows you to try on items without needing a dressing room.
- Shop down and up one size from your normal size to accommodate for changes in sizing from era to era.
- Consider items that may require slight alterations or simple repairs.
- Expand your comfort zone. While you might not be willing to buy something that is out of the norm for you at full price, you can do so without a big loss at a thrift store.
- Search for items that have potential, and can be made to look good again, or even re-purposed to fit your needs.
- Carefully examine items you are interested in. Some stores are “All Sales Final,” so be sure you like what you’re buying.
- When resale shopping for baby items, take care of what you choose. Used car seats generally should not be purchased at a resale location, as you don’t know the history. If a store is selling one, ask them if they know anything about the seat. If not, take a pass. Other items, such as cribs, swings, high chairs, toys, and other such items should be carefully considered also. Check for broken and missing pieces, as well as for instruction manuals. Also, check items for recalls.
- Take your time. Plan to spend as much time as needed to find what you’re looking for and to make sure you don’t miss any treasures.
Resale shopping can save you money and can be lots of fun. There are many bargains awaiting. Who knows, those items you’ve been looking for, but just can’t seem to find, just might be waiting for you to come and rescue!
Carlozo, Lou. “You Won’t Believe How Much You’ll Save Thrift Shopping for Clothes.” Dealnews, Dealnews.com, 19 Apr. 2014, dealnews.com/features/50-for-a-T-Shirt-Please-Thrift-Shopping-Saves-You-50-to-80-on-Clothes/827487.html.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” NARTS, The Association of Resale Professionals, https://www.narts.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3310.
LiveLoveDIY. “LiveLoveDIY.” 10 Thrift Store Shopping Secrets You Should Know, 21 Jan. 2014, www.livelovediy.com/2014/01/10-thrift-store-shopping-secrets-you.html.
McDonald, Andy. “Here’s Why You Should Definitely Be Shopping At A Thrift Store.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 Apr. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/29/thrift-store-shopping_n_5175646.html.
“Thrift Tips: From Us To You.” Savers, www.savers.com/shop/thrift-tips.