5 Reasons to Shop at Thrift Stores First

Inside: Here you’ll find 5 compelling reasons to buy used and shop at thrift stores.

I love shopping at thrift stores and buying used, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I used to think it was kind of gross. Why would I willingly bring an item in my home or wear a top that used to belong to a total stranger?

It wasn’t until I became a new mom roughly 11 years ago, that I began to reconsider my preconceived ideas about buying used. It took me all of 72 hours of motherhood to realize what a giant waste of money it can be to buy brand new clothing for growing, tiny humans bent on staining everything they wear. I seemed the more money I spent, the more likely they were to end up destroyed.

By the time my firstborn rounded the corner on one full year of life, I had officially become a thrifting convert. What began as a means to obtain cheap clothing my kids could ruin, has now morphed into a preference for buying used whenever possible.

From flannels, jeans and wine glasses, to coffee mugs and kids’ clothes, buying used is my favorite way to purchase new (to me) items.

On top of first checking thrift stores for the items we need for our own home, I also love to scour the city from time to time in search of items my friends, family and local ministries need as well.
I’ve always got my eyes peeled for discount safe-sleep options in excellent condition I can purchase and donate to a local pregnancy resource center. (You can take the nurse out of Labor and Delivery, but you can’t take the Labor and Delivery gig out of the nurse.) It’s not uncommon for me to whip my vehicle to the side of the road on a whim if I spot a pack-n-play or crib in someone’s garage sale. “Everybody, hold on to your seats!”
If you’re on the fence about this thrifting life, wondering if perhaps it could be for you as well, here are 5 compelling reasons to shop at thrift stores first.

1. Reducing Waste

Buying used instead of brand new gives stuff (much of it in excellent condition) another chance to be useful while also reducing waste. The reality is everything we own will one day become trash. Maybe not tomorrow, or five years from now. Even if a few of your things get passed down to your children’s, children’s, children, eventually, it’s all going to end up as trash at some point. Every item you thrift instead of buying brand new is one less item you’re adding to the earth.

I don’t consider myself a zero-waste expert (or even a zero-waste person for that matter), but buying used is one way that our family has shifted our habits in a way that reduce waste in a sustainable way.

2. Find One-of- a-Kind Items

When you shop for vintage and thrifted items, you never know what you’ll find. What you do find, however, is often likely to be quite unique. Midcentury furniture, one-of-a-kind wall art, century old hardware, and tops from the 80’s (which have somehow managed to become a hot commodity these days -don’t get me started).

If you want home decor or new-ish clothes that are unique to you, thrifting is absolutely the way to go.thrift shops

3. Support Charity

Many thrift stores operate in a way that the money you spend there, directly supports a charitable organization such as children’s homes and rescue missions. When you shop at those thrift stores, you are helping to support those charities.

The same goes for donating your gently used, excess. items. The items donated to the Lansing City Rescue Mission are sold to help fund the mission. When you declutter your home, look for local thrift stores with a mission you believe in. In my experience it will help you donate even more than you would have otherwise.

4. The Fun of It

I’m aware that not everybody loves thrifting as much as I do. In fact, very few of my IRL friends love it as much as I do. But for me, thrifting garage sales, antique stores and thrift stores is a legitimate form of self-care. It’s just fun, even when I don’t buy a thing.

It’s a similar experience to wandering down the beaches of northern Michigan looking for Petoskey stones or scouring the forest floor during the spring for morel mushrooms. Each glance offers a new opportunity to uncover a treasure. Whether it be looking for pack-in-plays for a mom in need, golf shirts for my nephew, wicker chair for my niece, or unique, vintage coffee mugs, I find so much joy in the looking.

5. Cost Savings

The money you’ll save is probably the most obvious reason to shop thrift stores first. I’ve always loved bargain hunting and sale hopping. The trouble with shopping retail for great deals is that those “deals” aren’t necessarily deals. It’s marketing.  The store has simply manufactured a “deal” so you’ll feel like you’re saving some cash, possibly even encouraging you to stock-up on items you never went in for in the first place.

If a Buy One Get One sale, 20% off coupons or 40% off items are a regular occurrence in a store, it’s because the price has been padded to offer you the item at a discount.
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However, when you find your son an almost new, $120 winter coat for just $2, that’s a great deal. When you find your favorite brand and style of jean for just $9 that’s a great deal. When you can create your child’s summer capsule wardrobe, complete with excellent condition thrifted clothing for just pennies on the dollar, that’s a great deal. Because let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how old they are, kids aren’t kind to their clothes.

It Takes Patience

One of the biggest hurdles to buying used is our lack of patience. Amazon has made it ridiculously easy to not only easily find what we need, but to also have it delivered in a day. Buying used takes a little more time and patience.

While there are plenty of online thrift stores, often times, the best deals are sitting on the shelves at the local thrift store down the street from you. I want to encourage you to make the trip your local thrift stores and see what they have. You just may be surprised by the number of items sitting on those shelves waiting for a new home.

Our spatula just broke. Ordering a new one would have gotten us that spatula delivered the very next day, however, I’m confident that adopting a hardly used spatula from our local thrift store will save us money, reduce waste, and support a cause we believe in.  I’ll make time for that. 

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