Bag a Bargain
7 Ways to Save at Thrift Stores
Just call me the bag lady. For years our family has taken advantage of bag sales at our favorite thrift store. Two or three times a year, the store advertises all you can stuff in a brown paper grocery bag for a small fee, usually $3.
A local hardware store gets in on the bag sale bonanza as well, but they use a percentage off system. Even our public library had a book bag sale to weed out their discarded or slightly damaged books. My children and I filled a small bookshelf with three bags of books for less than $10. You can't even buy one hardcover book for that!
Speed is crucial when participating in a bag sale. Everyone wants to cram as much as they can in their bags, so they grab whatever is handy. My strategy involves quickly choosing clothing that is the right size, then sorting and folding them later. I look for styles that I think my kids would like, or bring them along.
We are fortunate because our thrift store frequently benefits from donations of brand-new clothing from some high-end retail stores in the area. I have found new clothing with the tags still on, with nothing wrong with them other than they might be out of season. If you get a great bargain, who cares if you buy your swimsuits in 40 degree below zero weather, and your winter parkas when it is close to 100 degrees?
When buying in advance for growing children, it is best to only look one or two seasons ahead. Your child may experience a growth spurt or totally change their style. What they like today might be next summer's flop.
A clerk at a store revealed the secret to cramming as much as humanly possible in a 12"W x 17"H x 7" D bag. Roll the clothing tightly instead of folding the traditional way. I tried it and it really works! I managed to fit double the amount in one bag.
At the last sale we attended, I only had to pay $3 for seven new pairs of jeans for Alex, my son, six pairs of summer shorts for Erica, a dressy jacket for me, five miscellaneous t-shirts and three pairs of shoes. Even at the relatively low thrift store prices, we saved over $89!
Since already worn and holey jeans are in style now, my son actually likes shopping for clothes at the thrift stores. Another hot item is "vintage" t-shirts. If possible, have your child try on the clothing, because most thrift stores have a no return policy. Check carefully for unwanted rips or holes for this same reason.
Bag sales are usually a frenzy of tons of smart shoppers all trying to get the best. My policy is to be polite, but not meek. I make a mental note of what to look for and head for that area. Once I get a spot at the rack, I don't leave until I've flipped through all the hangers. I grab anything that remotely seems to work. Remember that you can always put back what you decide against.
A bag sale does two things. First, it clears the store of unwanted or overly stocked seasonal items to make room for the newer things. Secondly, it fills your closets with new-to-you clothing that can update your wardrobe or add fun things to your children's style. The best part is the bonanza of bargains. So the next time you see me headed to the thrift store, just call me the bag lady.
Shaunna Privratsky is a fulltime author who doesn't mind being called a bag lady. For more money-saving ideas, please visit The Discount Diva.
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