Thrift Shops vs. Consignment/Resale Shops

By Friday, February 20, 2015 ,

I started to thrift back in high school. I don't know exactly why I started. My family is not one to go and buy secondhand. I think it might have started as a way to find costumes for homecoming week or Halloween but eventually I began to thrift for my everyday clothing. Within the last few years, I have added consignment shops into my thrifting guidelines. Some people only thrift while others only consign; I happen to enjoy a little of both. I tried to outline the benefits and drawbacks of both Rory Gilmore style with a pro vs. con list.

Thirft Shops:

-Lower prices
-Larger Selection
-Proceeds usually benefit charities
-Can drop off donations when you go to thrift.
-Most have home goods too.

-Generally these are dirtier
-Time consuming
-More sorting through clothes
-More average brands

Consignment & Resale Shops:

-Better brands: Consignment & Resale Shops only buy items they think they can resell.
-Less digging-you still need to sort through racks of clothes but you will have less to eliminate from-less stained items or beyond worn items to go through.
-Can bring your old items to sell while you shop. You might be able to trade your old stuff for some new ones.
-Better selection of shoes and purses as well as dresses.
-Generally these are cleaner

-Higher Prices
-Privately own
-Lower Selection
-Some consignment shops area mix of clothing and home goods while others are just clothes or home goods.

Summary: I would stick to thrift shops if I am just looking for some good deals...especially on half off weekends. I like that I am giving someone else's clothes a new life and supporting charity organizations. If I am looking for home items, I would probably turn to a thrift shop before a consignment shop...UNLESS I am looking for furniture that I don't want to invest additional time or resources in. If I am looking for a couch or some furniture piece requiring very little work then consign I would! (I've been watching Star Wars with the boyfriend hence the Yoda-talk.) One thrifted piece that I score recently that is too good not to share is my new Bosu Ball! These babies sell for $110 on Amazon but I found mine at Goodwill marked for $10 which was a score in and of itself EXCEPT for it was half-off day so I paided not $10 but $5. I saved $105 dollars!

If I was specifically looking for something in particular then I would head to a consignment shop, especially if I want something dressy, a purse, or some shoes. If I want jeans, I would most likely thrift because most thrift shops have a HUGE denim selection.

 I will say, it is much easier to find nicer things at a consignment shop-the clothes are generally newer,  nicer brands that are cleaner and with less wear but that also means you are going to pay the price for it. Thrifting requires more sorting but you can find some diamonds out there. The brands that are common at consignment shops can also be found at thrift shops for 20-30% of the price that you would pay at a consignment shop but you are gonna have to put some work in and look through a lot of racks before you get to them! For example, a few years ago, I got a tunic cover up from Goodwill that had a price tag on it but the price had been cut off. It was marked for $8 which was okay with me seeing as it was brand new but the cashier was like $8 for this? I'll charge you $4. I did a little research at home and turns out I had just got a designer maternity tunic (oops) costing around $225 (yikes) but still wearable as a coverup.

On a final note, if you are going to thrift, try to go to the nicer parts of town because these locations generally have a more affluent population donating their items which tend to be nicer and less worn. When I first moved to Cincinnati for school, I asked an employee at the first Goodwill I went to which Goodwills were the best in the area and I learned which ones have the nicest items as well as which ones have the biggest selection. Don't be afraid to ask any employee about different locations, they won't bite. :)

If you haven't tried to thrift, I really encourage you to give it a try. If you are into recycling and reducing your carbon footprint, buying secondhand is a serious no brainer, not to mention you will save some serious cash. For me it's a serious win: I can afford to buy more clothing because the pricers are lower; I can afford to buy things that might normally be beyond my price range; I don't have to watch stores for sales; and I can reduce my carbon footprint by shopping secondhand. Do you see yourself as more of a thrifter, a consignment shopper, or a little of both?