Goodwill & Thrift Store Shopping Tips

I’m a big fan of shopping at thrift stores. Some of my top reasons to shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores are:

  • Saving money as we replace our book, game and toy collections
  • Reducing our carbon footprint
  • Giving back to our community
  • Finding books and games that are retired, out of print, or no longer in production
  • Finding “treasure” is really fun

Our local Goodwill recently had two 50% off sales, one for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and one for Presidents Day. I stumbled upon the first sale and the cashier told me about the 2nd sale. She also gave me a few tips that I wanted to share with you.

  • Our local Goodwill opens early on sale days
  • Get there when it opens for the best selection
  • They restock throughout the day
  • Come again in the afternoon for newly stocked merchandise

I hadn’t really realized that by taking the kids with me to thrift stores so frequently they were picking up my shopping techniques. On our last thrift store expedition, I noticed that my 9-year-old totally knew what he was doing! Not only was he finding great stuff, he was really enjoying it. When I made the 2nd afternoon trip and the kiddos had the choice to stay at home with daddy and play video games, or go back to Goodwill with me, he chose to come with me! Here are some of our shopping tips:

  • Stick to the areas that are better organized (we like books, DVDs, and games)
  • Take your time, be patient and look carefully
  • Realize that sometimes you will find something awesome and sometimes you won’t find anything
  • Skip things that can’t be washed like cloth toys, hats, and shoes
  • Realize that sometimes games/puzzles will be missing pieces
  • Open the books and flip through them to check the binding and for missing pages
  • Look game boxes over carefully, an open box that should have lots of pieces in it is not a good sign
  • If I have kids in tow, I skip the aisles of dishes and glassware
  • Be courteous to other shoppers, sometimes you have to wait your turn to look in a particular area
  • Bring reusable shopping bags or boxes
  • We always try to use hand sanitizer after any shopping trip or outing, especially during cold and flu season
  • Have fun!

Here are some of our favorite recent finds…

Once you get all your loot home it’s time to open, count, sort, organize and put away.

I like to check out the games before I put them away. I don’t want to pull out a game a week from now only to discover that we can’t play it. They are usually taped shut when I buy them so never know exactly what will be inside. It’s a risk, and it’s why I like shopping the 50% off sales. Most games have a list of the contents that are supposed to be inside somewhere on the game box. It’s easy to count the pieces in most games. Sometimes, games are missing pieces. Usually, thrift stores will not accept returns so if you find that a game is missing pieces you can’t return it to the store. You do have a few other options:

  • Use something else in lieu of a missing piece(s) – see photo below
  • Make the missing piece(s)
  • Buy extra piece(s) from, or
  • Sell the game and disclose the missing piece(s) on or at a garage sale
  • Do a Google search for craft ideas using the game pieces you do have. Here are some ideas from DIY & Crafts
  • Donate the game to a thrift store, just be sure to note the missing pieces so it can be priced correctly and the next buyer knows what they are paying for
use something else in lieu of a missing piece

Sometimes, thrift store finds may need new storage containers.

A clear plastic bin with a lid from Costco to store Lincoln Logs
A 1 gallon Ziploc bag to store a complete set of Jenga blocks

We hope this post inspires you to shop at a thrift store near you sometime soon. You never know what you might find!

🛍 Do you like shopping at thrift stores?

🛍 Do you have any shopping tips?

🛍 What was one of your favorite finds?

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