|Harvey L. Bilker has written numerous articles, and taken scores of photographs,
for The New York Times and many other publications.
are thrift shops? Where do you find them? What are they all about?
How can they help you cut down on your debts?
What are Thrift Shops?
Hospitals, churches, and other
charitable organizations establish thrift shops to raise money for
their causes. Items from clothes through appliances to devices to aid
the elderly, such as wheelchairs and walkers, are donated to
The cost of running a thrift shop is
nil, especially if the rental is donated. Volunteers spend a few hours a day there in shifts
and help patrons of all ages.
Certain thrift shops specialize in
specific items. Those could be books, maternity clothes, sweaters,
shoes, and other articles. Many carry children’s clothes and
Thrift shops can help immensely with
family budgets, especially these days when it’s raining pink
This article and its continuation in
future issues will give you specific details on thrift shops.
You can actually save, or, if you’re
lucky, make a fortune! Read on!
A personal experience.
I once bought a black, heavy,
herring-bone winter coat in mint condition at a thrift-shop sale.
The regular price was $5.00. All coats were half-price that day, so I
paid $2.50 for it. It received many compliments from my
friends and some strangers. One day someone asked what I paid for
it. I told them, honestly, that it was five, but I got it for half
price: two-fifty. The response: "Even five hundred dollars is a
good deal for that coat."
Yes, at thrift shops you can move
decimal points around like that!
What items do thrift shops sell?
Thrift shops have a wide variety of
articles, ranging from clothes through appliances, such as
computers, to books and antiques. (Some people search through them
to find items to sell on eBay for prices many times what they paid for them. Occasionally
someone will "hit the jackpot.")
Items are donated by
people who have no use for them anymore, or who are moving and know
that they will never use them again. Others have replaced these
articles with more updated ones. Many people whose relatives have
died donate what was left behind in lieu of having an estate sale.
Are all goods perfect?
Caveat Emptor, which means: "Let
the buyer beware."
It’s up to you to check the goods
carefully. The shops never want to stick anyone with imperfect
goods. They check everything to make sure that it is clean and in
good condition. People who donate to thrift shops often have used clothes
cleaned and you may find the cleaning tag still there. But look the
goods over carefully; they are not usually returnable. However, most
thrift shops, if they feel that you are honest, or if it is their
policy, will give you credit to use for other items.
Sometimes you can bargain for
slightly damaged items. For instance, if you point out a missing
button on a shirt, they might discount it slightly, or if it is
torn, they may just give it to you for free.
You also have to be aware of outdated
items. For example you may hurriedly buy an electric razor that you
think is cordless, then, when you get
home, you realize that it is not battery powered, but rather must be
plugged into a socket.
Examples of savings
White dress shirts which sell in the
department stores for $25, and in the malls for $50 and $60, can
cost you as little as $1.00 or $2.00. Sometimes they’ll be on sale
for 50 cents. (It would cost you more than that to have a shirt
Silk ties. What a bargain!
These are quality goods which sell at
the mall for $35 or more. Are you ready for the news? Okay, now hold
your breath and sit down.
They are 25 to 50 cents! No, I’m
not kidding. And if there’s a bag sale, you can fill an entire bag
with ties. But why do that when you can, along with a pile of ties,
stuff in a suit and jacket, belts, and probably more, for the
ridiculous sum of about $5?
How do you locate thrift shops in
As I mentioned before, thrift shops are associated with
hospitals, churches, etc. They use the income to buy the newest in medical
instrumentation and drugs, for building additional pavilions, and to serve those in need, young and old.
One good way to locate a thrift shop
is to call a local hospital and inquire; they will be glad to help you.
It is for their benefit.
You can also look under Thrift Shops in the
yellow pages of your phone directory, or call information with
regard to that category.