$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Archive for the category “Prepare to shop”

Caveat Emptor


Be careful of upholstered items
that smell moldy or musty.

Be very careful what you bring into your home. A bargain that comes complete with toxins or worse can cost you more than just money. You can find things worse than pet pee stains on rugs or sofa.

Toxins and mold

Toxic chemicals used in the manufacture or the use of illegal drugs in a home can penetrate fabrics such as curtains, rugs, or upholstered furniture. The EPA has guidelines for handling and disposing of contaminated items. See EPA guidelines on handling meth labs. These sofas and chairs should not end up in a thrift store or resale shop but sadly they could.

Upholstered furniture, rugs, or draperies that have been saturated in a flood can develop mold.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are on the rise again, and they aren’t just in bedtime rhymes. Check these sites for more information about identifying and dealing with bedbugs:

  • WebMD has a slide show about the effects of bedbugs.
  • Virginia Tech, Department of Entomology has information about identifying bedbugs

Apply the stink and stain test

If the item has brown, red, or yellow stains or streaks on it, move on.

If the item smells like a dog kennel, a litter box, smells moldy, or has a chemical odor such as ammonia, move on quickly and get out the hand sanitizer. No bargain is worth taking the chance of bringing toxic chemicals, germs, or unpleasant critters into your home.

If the item passes the stink and stain test, you’ll still want to clean it thoroughly. If you can’t put it in the washer, check the care label or search the Internet for tips. The websites eHow and channel4 4Homes have useful information about how to clean various items.


Plan for More Savings

You already know you can save scads by shopping at thrift stores. But, with a little planning, you can save even more.

  • Grab the discounts. Many stores offer 10-15% discounts for seniors, military, and other groups.
  • Shop sale days. Some stores have regular sale days, offering discounts such as 25% off all merchandise.
  • Track your item. Some stores, such as Goodwill®, tag merchandise with a color coding system that identifies “old” merchandise. For example, a jacket comes in the first week of the month. That week, all clothing gets tagged with a red label. Four weeks later, anything with a red label is discounted by 50%. You save even more!
  • Shop after holidays. Just like regular retailers, thrift store operators need to clear out seasonal items after holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. Shop early for the best selection.

If you don’t see signs about sale or discounts, ask the cashier.

While you’re chatting with the cashier, ask if there are specific days when a truck is unloaded and the merchandise is priced and stocked. On those days, you get first pick at fresh merchandise.

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