What Is a Thrift Store?

Home & Family, Living Green
on March 31, 2012

A thrift store is different from a consignment or resale shop. It is run by a not-for-profit group instead of a merchant. The purpose of a thrift shop typically is to raise money for charities via the not-for-profit group. Two examples of thrift shops are the Salvation Army and the Goodwill shops.

Location. Thrift shops can be found throughout cities across the United States. The Salvation Army has more than 1,600 thrift shops in the country. To locate a Salvation Army thrift shop, simply visit the organization’s main site. On the upper right-hand side of the page is the section “Locations.” Type your ZIP code into the box next to it and click “go.” It will list the Salvation Army thrift shop closest to your location. Goodwill has more than 2,600 thrift shops in the United States as well. You can locate its shops the same way from the Goodwill website. In addition, Goodwill offers an online thrift shop. Your city also may have a thrift shop run by a local organization with the sales from the shop benefitting area community programs.

Merchandise. The merchandise in a thrift shop is varied, changing frequently because this type of shop relies on donations most of the time. Some thrift shops may take items on consignment as well. A typical thrift shop will have a large section for clothing such as casual wear, business outfits and children’s clothing. Other sections may include household items, appliances, books, toys, furniture and baby items such as strollers. Prices are bargains, often marked at half or one-third less than retail stores.

Expectations. A thrift shop is not a high-end retailer with a large marketing and decorating budget. Expect your local thrift shop to offer gently used items in a no-frills shopping environment. Some thrift shops do have the space for dressing rooms, but many do not, so trying on clothes is not an option. Because the items are donated, selection will vary from day to day and you may not be able to find certain sizes.

Charities. The money you spend at a thrift shop usually benefits a specific charity such as a church, school, community group or programs such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation. The proceeds from sales at Goodwill thrift shops help support “job training and placement programs for people with disabilities and other disadvantages.”

Shopping at thrift shops is a great way to save money while supporting a good cause.