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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Shop 'N Save

Since I covered shopping at garage sales yesterday, now is probably an appropriate time to cover other inexpensive shopping options. We will start from the cheapest and move on up the scale (get it? upscale? yeah, never mind! That's why I don't have a comedy blog!)


Goodwill is sort of like one huge garage sale under one really big roof! Merchandise runs the gamut from furniture to books and movies to jewelry to clothing...the list is endless because it simply depends on what people donate. We are in a yuppie-type neighborhood (ok, aging yuppies with kids and minivans), so our one-year old Goodwill store is set up to attract this market; a coffee area, fairly nice dressing rooms, a playroom for kids to wait for their parents in, and several checkout lines (you can even purchase Goodwill gift cards - no kidding!).

You need to be selective when shopping at Goodwill. Since garage sales are so popular in our area, a lot of the merchandise consists of items donated that didn't sell the first or second time around at those sales! On the other hand, there are lots of people who don't want to bother with garage sales and have their items picked up or drop them off to get the tax writeoff. That's the really good stuff! :)

I use Goodwill intermittently, usually when I am looking for something specific. I have found some good DVD deals (check for obvious scratches first) and frames (particularly large frames even if the paintings are awful!). Occasionally I find jeans that are perfect for me, though admittedly the clothing there often tends to be out-of-date (if it isn't, it disappears quickly or isn't my size). It is also a great place to get items to pull together as a Halloween costume...and remember that casino party from my earlier summer party blog? Well that's where I found bags of poker chips for next to nothing.

Finally, Goodwill often will have 50% off sales - ours is the first Saturday of every month. Those are even better times to catch a deal, BUT it gets really crowded so it's not much fun - only recommend that if you have a definite item you are looking for!

There are also a variety of other thrift stores you should take a look at. SAVERS is a popular chain - similar to Goodwill though there tends to be less stock from what I've seen (though I may have hit on "off" days).


Consignment shops are a great deal if you can find one that carries the type of merchandise you (a) would want to buy yourself and (b) you have loads of at home that you want to get rid of! You sign up with a shop and at specific times (usually on a preset dropoff schedule) you can put your items on consignment there. You can earn money or store credit (typically store credit issued is more than the actual cash you would walk away with).

We have a number of these near us. TRANSTYLE specializes in high-end and designer fashions (with some jewelry, shoes and, yes, even a little furniture and artwork thrown in). It is well-arranged by season, size and so to shop at though not as cheap as Goodwill or a garage sale. But the items are clean and high-quality - that's a big plus!

There are also consignment stores that offer primarily furniture and others that specialize in children's clothing and accessories. I frequented the kids' consignment stores when mine were little - great option given how quickly they outgrow the really cute stuff!


My sister is probably the best customer Ross has! She swears by that store and it's not hard to see why! They have a great selection for everyone (my daughter loves the purses!) in both designer and non-designer labels. They carry perfume, toys, frames and knick-knacks, home goods (towels and sheet sets, dishes, etc.) and even some occasional specialty food items (olive oil, biscotti, things along that line). The selection varies by day and, not unlike Goodwill or consignment shops, you still need to take a good long look at what you are buying. The prices are great and the names are familiar, but there are reasons this stock ends up at Ross instead of Nordstrom or Forever21! Look at merchandise for stains, rips, broken zippers/clasps, missing buttons, broken pieces, etc...Generally you will get a great deal but take the time to ensure that you are getting what you want and that the quality is acceptable!


OK - even on a budget, I can usually afford Target. They offer a wide selection of anything I would need - clothes, jewelry, certain grocery items, craft supplies (but that's another article!), electronics, some basic furniture, cleaning supplies and the list stretches on (as do my dollars!). I also love their dollar bin selections -great for prizes, Easter baskets, Christmas stockings and frequently for scrapbook accessories. The service is great and I walk out feeling like I got a great deal plus an actual shopping experience (I don't get that "experience" feeling when I have to check my clothing purchases for stains, ok?)

So those are four of my favorite places to shop for deals (in order of pricing lowest to highest - ultimately, Target is my favorite from this list). There are others that we love too...IKEA is great, but didn't fall into the clothing topic so I didn't put it on the list. And, NO, I refuse to include Walmart on my list...can't stand the shopping experience and dislike the vast majority of their clothing lines...but if you can deal with that part, admittedly their price is right).

Any others to recommend? Post your comments and let us know!

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