Thrift, Resale, or Consignment?
Confused? Here’s a brief description of each.
- Thrift stores, or secondhand stores. A store in which donated merchandise is offered for sale. The profits benefit a charity. Goodwill®, Salvation Army Family Store, St Vincent de Paul are thrift stores with a presence in many cities.
- Resale shops. Resale shop owners or managers get their inventory in a variety of ways. They may buy merchandise from people selling their unwanted items or they buy boxes or lots of merchandise from estates or auctions. Unfortunately, sometimes resale shops have deceptive names, such as Uncle Andy’s Charity Thrift Shop, making it appear they are associated with a nonprofit. If you’re not sure, ask what charity the store supports.
- Consignment shops. Owners or managers contract with people to sell items in exchange for a percentage of the selling price. These shops usually sell clothing but may also offer housewares and furniture.
The Unique Thrift Store, another widespread chain of thrift stores, has a different business model. They buy goods that are donated to a charity. The donor gets the tax break, the nonprofit gets income from the item without bearing the cost of running a store, and the Unique gets merchandise for a very good price.
You can get bargains at any of the type of stores listed above. Generally, but not always, thrift stores have the best prices. However, it’s a nice bonus that you are supporting a charity when you buy merchandise at a thrift store.
Finding a thrift store
Check the phone book under Secondhand Stores or Thrift Stores. Or enter thrift stores and your city name in any search engine. You can generate an online list of stores with addresses and ratings using The YellowPages™.
Be cautious about these online ratings, though. It’s easy to “rig” a rating by having employees or friends enter rave reviews.
If you have friends who already shop at thrift stores, ask for their advice on where you should begin. Some stores are better organized than others and thus are better for novices.
Don’t be a drive-by critic. Big stores aren’t necessarily better than small ones. I found a Coach™ purse in a thrift store the size of a convenience mart.
Always scope out a new thrift store during the day to get familiar with the neighborhood and parking.