Monday, April 6, 2009

Do the Thrift Store Shuffle

When I was younger, I thought that thrift stores were only for poor people, that you had to meet income guidelines to be allowed to shop there. So, when I was starting housekeeping and struggling to furnish an apartment, I never went to the local thrift stores because I didn't want to take anything away from people who needed it more.

Since then I've learned that the actual situation is quite different. Far from taking away from the truly needy, shopping at a thrift store often can actually help them, because many thrift stores (Goodwill and Salvation Army in particular) use their revenues to fund job-training programs that give people a hand up instead of a handout. And in addition to being able to buy used goods at rock-bottom prices (I've found a bread machine for five bucks and a lamp for two, by catching half-price sales), shopping the thrift stores helps keep still-useful goods out of the landfill.

Yes, shopping the thrift stores can take some extra time, since there is no guarantee that the thing you need will be in any of them. But if you're not under a huge amount of time pressure and don't need the item instantaneously, getting things at your local thrift store can often save you 80% or more over the original retail price of an item.

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