Getting Thrifty

by Patti Wigington

I’m not a very good shopper. My friends tell me I shop like a guy – I know what I want, I walk in, I buy it, and I leave. Shopping is a “Wham-bam-thank-you-Kohl’s” experience for me – other than cute shoes and pretty lingerie, there aren’t many things I really dig shopping for.

And yet, I love the thrift store. My thrift store – and by “my,” I mean, the one I go to because it’s convenient and huge and full of good stuff that nobody wants anymore – is housed in a former K-Mart, so it’s basically several acres of stuff. It’s in no particular order, although the women’s stuff is one side, the men’s on the other, and allegedly it’s all arranged by size. There are no fitting rooms, so everything is a crap shoot, unless I plan ahead and wear a pair of yoga pants and a tank top, in which case I can try things on over what I’ve already got on. I walk in, I grab a bunch of stuff, and I walk out.

The thrift store isn’t shopping. It’s a treasure hunt.

Kids need winter jackets? There’s a perfectly nice LL Bean down-filled one at the end of the aisle for just $12 – and it’s Orange Tagged, which means on Wednesdays that coat is only $6. I found a vintage Mary Tyler Moore-esque coat for $8 – the perfect size for my very tall 11-year-old. Like fleece sweaters? Here’s a bunch of them for under $5. Okay, the blue one has a small hole, but I can stitch that shut in five minutes – it’s worth it, because it’s from Cabela’s and retails for $45 new.

There are three aisles of jeans. I’m running between sizes now, thanks to weight loss, but that’s ok. I’ll grab a couple in the two sizes I might wear – after all, they’re only $3 a pair right now, and I can take the ones that don’t fit and give them to my college student. For Halloween, I was a Toddler Pageant Queen, and found a lovely blue formal for only $16. It still had the tags inside it from David’s Bridal, where it once sold for a hundred bucks. It’s a nice dress, and I’ll save it for future costume shenanigans - or maybe a wedding, if anyone ever is desperate enough to tag me as a bridesmaid.

There’s also plenty of awful stuff at the thrift store, but for dirt cheap, I’m willing to pick up things just for the ridiculous factor. I’ve bought fish slippers, three absolutely hideous red Christmas sweatshirts for my daughter and her college friends, and a copper jelly mold shaped like a lobster. And there’s some stuff that’s just so frightening I won’t go near it, like the Vera Bradley bag that smelled like roadkill and beer, or the flannel hoodie that probably belonged in an evidence locker rather than a thrift store.

I’m very excited to announce that tomorrow is Pink Tag Day, which means I’ll be trolling the racks for something good. I need a new pair of jeans… and I’m pretty sure one of my friends will be thrilled with the lobster-shaped jelly mold he’s getting for Christmas!


  1. Awesome post. :D

    We have a few huge ones near here, and it's about time I revisited... :)


  2. we only have a goodwill near us but ive furnished my entire house from them:P and 90% of mine and my kids wardrobe. But with ours you have to be there when they open the door or by noon the furniture is gone, they always have amps of clothing and shoes tho. but nic naks like furniture u must be there when they put it out


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