Week 4: Thrift Shops Too Pricey?

Resale stores have become a multi-billion dollar industry in America.  One industry trade publication reports 16 to 18 percent of us will visit a thrift store in any given year. Goodwill Industries, the "big kahuna" of non-profit thrift stores is reported to have captured $2.69 billion in combined sales from its 2,500 stores in one year alone.

Thrift stores have gained popularity during the recent recession as families try to stretch their budgets. Demand for used goods has also come from environmentally conscious consumers wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.

Increasingly people with a good eye for quality items and antiques are earning money by purchasing goods at thrift stores and reselling them on-line  - something they call "flipping". But, even these individual resellers and pickers are growing worried that there are fewer treasures to be had in thrift stores today as their popularity increases. and as thrift stores, themselves, have started selling higher-quality donations they receive on e-bay and their own on-line auction sites. Shopgoodwill.com is one of them.

The thrift stores we have visited this month have seemed more picked over than I remembered a few years ago and many have goods priced as high or higher than they could be purchased new from discount or dollar stores.  Some stores seem to artificially inflate their prices which only seem reasonable if you shop on their 50 percent off discount days.

What all of this means for our family, that has vowed to buy nothing new for the coming year,  is we will likely rely more on Freecycle, garage sales, flea markets and charity rummage sales such as the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale in March.

Even garage sales have gotten more competitive, however, as tech savvy resellers and collectors use smart phone apps  to locate sales and shop over a wider region. (More about this phenomenon in a future blog).

This week's update on our family's journey:

This coming week we will be doing more de-cluttering and lightening our load.  Tonight we are dropping off some board games, that our children long ago outgrew. to a program for underprivileged youth which is holding a game drive.

I was  "gifted" this weekend with a used toaster from a friend who heard about our toaster-less plight and offered us a four-slice toaster with two remaining working slice slots. 

In the past 30 days we were lucky enough to find on Freecycle a used printer and two office chairs from a business that was downsizing, a new purse to replace mine that was ripped and flowery blank note cards that will serve as Valentine's this year. 

In less positive news,  this week I caved and bought a woman's magazine at the supermarket checkstand (which I could have waited and read at the library or searched the article I wanted to read on-line).  My husband bought a newly manufactured water bottle this week to use during exercise after rejecting all we located in thrift stores this week. 

Meanwhile, he announced he would like a grill accessory for an old camp stove we have that he is convinced can only be found "new".  This topic will be under discussion this week, as I don't believe we actually "need" this item. He disagrees.  Stay tuned.

Here are some more resources you might like:

Janet Luhr's Simplicity School  This author, coach, instructor offers a variety of ways to guide you on your journey to more simple living.

Cecile Andrews is another author, lecturer and coach who writes about sharing communities, simplicity circles, transition towns, happiness initiatives and much more. Click on her name to see her website with more details.

Amy Dacyczyn's The Complete Tightwad Gazette is the frugal living handbook of our generation.  You will delight in the many practical ideas she shares and marvel at some of the unbelievable lengths to which she goes to save a dime.

What do you think about thrift store prices? Tell us in the comments section.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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