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Part of being frugal is finding great deals on clothes.  A lot of people think that shopping second-hand stores isn’t for them, but personally I’m pro thrift stores.

I think the people who don’t think that Goodwill is for them just don’t know how to shop the store the right way.  I took a trip to Goodwill this Monday and I decided to show you guys some of my finds and pass along some tips.

1.  Shop the Goodwills in nicer areas of your town.  I live in a college town, so there are a lot of varying incomes and college students shedding their wardrobe every season and donating what they don’t want.

The Goodwill closest to me is probably the biggest in our town.  There is also one where you can dig through buckets of goods and pay by the pound, but I would rather have everything hanging up so I can go through it quickly.

2.  Look at everything.  Sometimes things at Goodwill won’t jump out at you because they separate clothes by colors.  I like to give myself 45 minutes-1 hour to do a thorough shopping trip.  There could be a gem sandwiched between two ratty black blouses, you just need to move every hanger to find it.  I was obsessed with this button down jacket from Forever 21 for only $5.25 and I only found it from digging through all of the other jackets on the rack.

3.  Don’t buy something so damaged that you can’t repair it.  If you buy a nice skirt that you’re in love with but it has a rip in it, I’ll bet that you get home and get too busy to repair it so it just sits in the bottom of your closet for the next 20 years.  Although things at Goodwill are cheap, they aren’t free.  If you’re spending money on it but you don’t love it, you might as well use the money on groceries.

4.  New with tags usually costs more than something that looks like new with no tags.  Most Jackets were $5.25, but I found a brand new jacket from Ross for $8.25.  It’s still cheaper than it’s original tag of $14.00, but just decide how much you love it.

5.  Pay attention to the color of the week sign at the front of the store.  My store had a sign at the front of the store that said everything with a green tag is 50% off it’s marked price.  After looking through the entire store, I barely found any green tags.  They were most likely already picked over.  But if you find a green tag on something you really like, it’s a double score!


6.  Shop in the off-season.  This is for two reasons.  A) Most people like to shop for their Winter clothes in Winter, so most of the clothes in season get snatched up quickly.  Not us; we all know better, right?  B)  When people clean out their closets, they usually do it for the clothes that aren’t in season.  I found a ton of great choices for Spring and Summer clothes.  Lots of skirts and short sleeved tops. One of the favorite things I found this week was a black pleated eyelet skirt from Banana Republic.  It looked like new and was only $4.25.  I could get so much wear out of this over the summer!

7.  Check in constantly.  Goodwill adds new things every day, so if you didn’t find anything today, you may see something tomorrow.  Stop in your Goodwill every time you have some extra time and you may just find a new favorite outfit!  If you don’t have the hour to dedicate to a deep shopping trip, just run though and scan the racks.  I’ve still found great things just from scanning the store.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this sheer blouse from Banana Republic at their outlet store recently.  I got really excited when I found it in Goodwill!

Pretty soon, everyone will be amazed by the awesome wardrobe you’ve built from shopping at Goodwill.  Just remember: patience is key!

    • Erin

      I loovvve Goodwill and shop there a lot..for our whole family. I have had many compliments on outfits where people were shocked that part of it or all of it came from Goodwill. You can get great deals there…and still be super stylish…it takes a little more work, but those exta savings are sooo worth it!!

    • DirtWife

      I was in my store yesterday and found a cool superman shirt for my son. Cool and cheap!!

    • annette

      wearing a NY Co. jacket from Goodwill today cost $4, had never been worn

    • Some of my favorite and nicest clothes came from Goodwill. I have good luck finding boots there for some reason. A few more tips (and these may be regional):

      Goodwill gives student discounts of 10% with a student id.

      Every first Saturday of the month everything in the store is 50% off.

      Every Wednesday and Sunday items that are the color of the week are only 99 cents (vs 50% off).

      • Michelle R.

        We only have the color of the week at 50% off…10% military or senior discount (which is everyday) every once in a while they will have a special sale…but i wish we had those deals!

    • Goodwills are run differently…a trick at our store on the “boutique” items is to look at the tag and check the date. They mark down items each month they sit in the store. If you notice a date that is past 30 days and it hasn’t been marked down, speak to the manager and they will mark it down for you. I got my daughter’s prom dress there for $15 less than the tagged price simply by asking!

    • jenjav

      our goodwill has a discounted “color” everyday, get $1 off that color tag on all items more than 1.99 and when they get too full of kids clothes which seems to happen once a month, theyre 2 for $1!, i can find gap & childrens place every time and abercrombie, hollister, justice about every other time. also our goodwill is across street from a target so when clearanced items dont sell at target, they get donated to goodwill. best deal i ever got was a girls NWT swimsuit from target for 50cents! my SIL found a dyson animal vaccuum for $10, all it needed was a new belt!

    • Susie

      Up until a few years ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a Goodwill, that is until I ask a co worker where she got her outfit and she told me a thrift store. All her clothes came from thrift stores, she said. Thats when a little light comes on in my mind, she dresses nicer than I do!

    • Donna

      Tuesday is 25% off for senior citizens (over 55?) on everything!

    • dandrewsmom

      Last week I found a BRAND NEW Lite Brite for only TWO DOLLARS at my local Goodwill! These cost $20 most places and the only thing wrong with this one is the box has been beat up a little, but it had never been opened! So, I snatched that right up, even though both my kids have a Lite Brite, my nephews birthday is next month and he doesn’t have one, but he will soon. Really strange, on the back of the Lite Brite box, there was a scrap of wrapping paper still attached with tape. Obviously this was a present of some kind and wasn’t wanted. Score for me! I popped some batteries in when I got home and it works perfectly! Can’t wait to see what my nephew thinks of it.

      • Make certain you add the batteries he may need to operate it! Then for certain it will be an awesome gift!!!

    • Guest

      Save yourself time. The hangers are color coded with colored necks on the hanger, orange, blue, plain, etc. The colors are rotated by week. If there are clothes on a roll out rack when you come in, look at the color on the hanger and that will be the color of the week. Our rule of thumb is that anything good has been picked over after a week. Looking at anything that isn’t from the current week is a waste of time. Saving time is saving money!

    • Valerie

      Goodwill is my favorite place to shop. My advice (similar to #3) is be extra careful to check to holes, missing buttons, stains, etc. It’s easy when you try things on there to forget to check!

    • proudlyamom

      I shopped in Goodwill for the first time about 2 weeks ago. So far, I’ve been twice and scored a $140 jogging stroller for $15, a $265 Guidecraft children’s desk for $29.99, brand new in the package Ikea floating shelves for $2.99, and a coaster set with storage rack (new in box) for $3.99. I can’t imagine what I could find if I could go more often!!

    • Mary

      In my county we have one Goodwill and one Salvation Army thrift store. Usually the better deals and prices, in my opinion, can be got at Salvation Army. Now that being said, the Goodwill in my area tends to have more upscale or fashionable clothes (Lane Bryant etc). Now at the Salvation army they have “color” of the days (red, blue, pink, orange,purple, and one other color that I can’t remember), but on that day everything with that color tag on it is only $.99! Some of the good deals I have found at Salvation Army are: brand new w/ the tag still on it JCP leather bomber jacket for $2.80~orginal ticket price $129, McCall patterns (both used and never opened) for $0.10~ orgianl price over $9 depending on pattern, almost brand new (2 were brand new) bath towells in a bag for less than $3 (there were over 15 bathtowells in there). Baby clothes for $0.99 w/ the tag still on them from Osh Gosh, Gap, etc.

    • kaoscasa

      Goodwill Clearance Center in Greenville, SC is great if you have the time to sort through the 18 or so bins. It’s a relaxing thing for me though.

      • Thom1977

        I’m glad you have the patience for that place. I get too overwhelmed with bins of stuff. You will never get to the bottom of a bin. It is neverending. Ha ha!! I like the one on Woodruff Rd.

        • Emily

          I always forget that there is one on Woodruff! :-)

    • sue

      If you are travelling and want to save $$ on not eating out, go to a Thrift Store and buy a cheap crock pot and make your meal in your hotel room. Throw chicken and taco seasoning in the crock pot and you can have a taco dinner much cheaper than eating at taco bell.

    • Yewelline

      I couldn’t agree more about shopping at Goodwill. I just wanted to add two comments. 1) If you shop the color of the week on Sunday and Wednesday you will pay only .99. 2) I have been scoping out Goodwill for many years. There reallly ARE name brands to be had. I was recently in the Mountains with my husband. We went to the outlet shopping centers. I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything (surprise to my husband) because I am able to get such great deals at my Goodwill.

    • Jennifer S

      Definitely depends on the area you live in. My local Goodwill is very messy and I have never found anything in the current styles. That being said, when I was in college, I shopped at Goodwill all the time.

    • Brooke

      If you live in the Birmingham, AL area, the Lovelady Center Thrift store in Irondale is wonderful! Excellent customer service and lots of name brand clothes. I find items from Antropologie and Banana Republic almost every time I shop there.

    • Hollie Noelle

      We have a HUGE salvation army near us that I am obsessed with. We go weekly, my one year old and I. Its our Friday morning outing (because every weekend, starting Fridays, they pick a tag color and all those tagged clothes are 5 for $5!!) and we clean up shop! I swear my kid is the best dressed baby at daycare and I spend pennies on the dollar for name brand stuff. Last week I scored a PUMA track suit, a ton of baby gap tees for spring, a sweet Guess sweater/legging set and a pair of Hanna Andersson pants and spent less than $15.

      My tip for kids-clothes shopping is that the staff doesn’t usually spend time sorting outfits, they just tag each item as it comes out of the bag and hang it up so lots of cute sets get split up. I make sure to scour the color coded top & pants sections and often find the matching pieces (as was the case with the puma track suit & guess set last week, I’ve found lots of gymboree outfits this way too!)

    • StephanieATL

      My Goodwill also does the 50% off a certain color every week. I walked the store looking for red tags once and found very little, except up front. I found some really nice uniform pants for my kids and the cashier made the comment, “I can’t believe you found all those red tags. I thought we had pulled them all.” I asked what she meant and she said they walk the store and pull items with the color of the week and put them in the back (not all, but most) until the color changes. I guess that is their idea of a bait and switch. They figure if you find something you really like at their full price you will go ahead and buy it because it’s so cheap anyway!

    • cam

      our Goodwills in Chattanooga have a sale every 1 saturday of the month . Everything in the store is 1/2 off . Great time to go but there is alot of people!

    • Monique Leslie

      I love shopping goodwill for crafty items. I have found a brand new cricut…just missing blades, mats and cartridge but it was an expression for $80. I have also found a brand new never opened Cricut Cartridge for $6.00 regular price it 89.99. Stampin Up stamps about 30 for about $8. And so much that I used for storage and kids clothes love shopping for designer kids clothes.

      • Bonnie Olson

        Where do you live that they have craft stuff. I scrapbook, and also am a demonstrator for SU. I have thought about donating stuff, but wasn’t sure if people would go for it.

        • Oh gosh I never saw your message don’t know if this still helps but in Las Vegas.

    • scmarie75

      I found out our local Goodwill get shipments from our local Target every Tuesday. These are clearance items that didn’t sell on their racks. Call your local store and ask if there are any specific days to find certain store brands. It’s worth it! I’ve gotten clothes and shoes for my whole family just by going on a Tuesday. :)

    • Jeffy Walker

      My goodwill’s can a little pricy some times!! But I do find name brand cloths there!! For example, I found Hollister and Abercrombie in thier, they looked used, but not new..

    • Jenni

      I can’t agree more on the “shop off season” tip. During the summer I scored some nice jackets/blazers (many new with tags), fleece, long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants (all very nice name brands too…Lands End, Ralph Lauren, Levis, etc). Now I’m finding some great summer stuff…several pairs of brand new shorts (Eddie Bauer brand), sleeveless tops (RL & Lands End) and even a Lands End bathing suit (both top and bottom) brand new still with tags! Less than $2 for the suit with a retail of near $100! I say check over your clothing items twice before you puchase. Look for holes, stains, just plain gross dirt, etc. Inside and out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found something that looked okay at first glance but after closer inspection and turning it inside out (yes, please check armpit and crotch areas by turning inside out) the were pretty stained/gross.

    • Liz

      If you’re in the Tampa/St. Pete area, Sunshine Thrift stores always have a great selection. I’ve gotten several Express and Ann Taylor pants and a Vera Bradley eyeglass case at their Tampa location.

    • acj4220

      Love Goodwill. We go all the time. Great place to get things for ministries.. This winter our church made a desparate plea for winter coats. We went on Senior Day and were able to pick up about 4 jackets in excellent condition for really cheap. Washed them and donated. Also I OFTEN find brand new childrens books which I put aside for Toys For Tots..sometimes brand new toys. My favorite thing to do is get a character stuffed animal there…say Curious George and match with a Curious George book and put aside for Christmas for grandchildren or Toys For Tots. Able to do much more than I could otherwise..It’s a game!!

    • bakananeko

      the by the pound store is AMAZING

    • kakkilea

      My favorite GoodWill find :Vera Bradley pocketbooks.($4 to $8 each. ).

    • Ashlee

      Love thrift stores…my favorite one in my area is America’s Thrift Store. They always have great deals and 3 colored tags are on sale each week…one 30% off, one 50% off, and one 70% off. Those discounts apply to entire store, not just clothing.

    • Heather

      Goodwill is my favorite store. I used to love Ross & Target because the Goodwill in my town was pretty messy, small, and overpriced. We moved about a year ago and about 6 months after moving, they opened a Goodwill 5 minutes from our house. WOW!!! It is awesome. I go there at least once a week and every single time I go there is a new selection on just about everything. It is the only large thrift store in our town so they get tons of donations and tons of business. They have a boutique section with high-end designer bags (many of which are fake and they don’t accept returns), clothes, and jewelry. They sadly don’t do color clearance tags, but they occasionally do 50% off days (except furniture) AND you can print coupons each week from their website (like $5 off $25). Other stores probably have coupons online too. At my old store, they also did a punch card (1 punch per $10 spent). After 10 punches, you get $10 off. I have scored SOOOO many awesome things for amazing prices and I pretty much never leave empty-handed. My favorite most recent purchase was a KidKraft huge wooden dollhouse with furniture for my little girl’s next birthday for $14.99. I snagged it as he rolled it out on the floor on the dolly.

    • I love to ” get my thrift on”. Its a great way to save and upcycle. I also have found some wonderful treasures to sell on Ebay that way. I’m very excited because they are building a brand new Goodwill about 10 minutes from my house in a great area!

    • Chaley

      When I decided to shop a thrift store (locally,our Knox Area Rescue Ministry stores seem nicer), I checked out the most recent census numbers for medium incomes by zip code, then found the nearest thrift stores to those zip codes. You might also want to look at the upper range of the household incomes, since some very old or very new nice neighborhoods may not be reflected by the median.

    • Bonnie Olson

      I buy stuffed animals for my dog, much cheaper than going to the pet store. He rips the ones I spend a lot of money on, so I might as well buy the ones that are .50-.99 cents.

    • seanmart

      I shop Goodwill daily because I use them to help stock my Antiques market booth and for some online sales, along with estate and yard sales. My stores in the Metro Atlanta area have the 50% color of the week tags. The color change starts on Sundays here. I always go there after church and find lots of sale color tags because the stores don’t start pulling them off the floor until Monday. The pulls are done by departments (linens, books, etc…) so when you shop your Goodwill stores, ask to speak to a member of management and inquire when they do their pulls and on what days for the weeks color tags. Most of them will tell you so you can take advantage of the sale. But if your stores color changes on Sunday, go by then. It’s worth the trip!

    • robin

      My Goodwill has a half price day on everything in the store! This happens the first Saturday of every month. I live in TN and so far every one that I have traveled to that are within a 100 miles does the samething. Don’t know about other states.

      • Allison

        In Knoxville, TN, Goodwill has half-off weekends on the last Friday and Saturday of the month.

    • mstarfish

      I have found that thrift stores owned by local charities often have better prices and merchandise than Goodwill. Also, thrift stores tend to specialize (one in my area has great deals on clothes/lousy prices on everything else), another store is just the opposite.
      Ditto on shopping the thrift stores in wealthy areas. Head for the high rise hospitals/law firms – if there’s a trendy museum or college district there, you’ll do even better. Wealthy suburbs are good, too.
      Goodwill employs “experts” to pick over any items that may be collectible, etc. They wind up on Ebay. You are more likely to find these items yourself if you shop local stores. Our family has made a little $ reselling items on Ebay that we found at these thrift stores.

    • tb

      if you buy something that you just don’t care for once you get home, you CAN return it back to Goodwill within 7 days, including the day that you bought it. i buy things for my boys, and if they don’t like it, i just take it back WITH a receipt. no receipt, no luck!

    • trekgirltracy

      In my area (E TN), the last Friday and Saturday of the month everything in the store is 50% off. That is every month! Gets picked over fast, though, so it’s best to go first thing that Friday morning.

    • tori729

      I agree about the thrift stores owned by local charities. Our Goodwills tend to be overpriced. I go to Miracle Hill, which is a great thrift store – well laid out and sorted and great prices!

    • pat

      In my house we call it the “Treasure Store”

    • Cadie

      I just went shopping at Goodwill last night and found some major deals on furniture and Christmas items. I even found something I thought was a bit overpriced, and I asked for a discount at the checkout and she lowered it from $14.99 to $6.50 just for asking! Didn’t know you could do that!

    • Jenna

      I love the Goodwill in my parents’ hometown… seniors and students get discounts, plus every other Saturday they have everything 1/2 off! They post the calendar online, so it’s easy to see if it’s a sale week when we visit my parents. I wish they did something like it in my hometown, but I’ve never seen a single sale in the 4 years I’ve lived here :(

    • Virginia

      I have found great things at Goodwill!

    • merg

      I am also a Goodwill junkie. But there are huge differences in the stores.I think it’s management that causes the differences, not just the areas.Some are really really bad. We are close to 2 stores that are the best. But you do have to check almost every day.

    • Danielle

      I love finding deals at the goodwill, but was really disappointed that they remove items that are the color of the week on Sundays from the sales floor… explains why it is hard to find those colors. I asked the manager and he told me corporate makes them do it. Seems like false advertising to me!

    • marilyn

      I just bought a Liz Claiborne spring jacket from Savers for $13. Most of my little people toys came from Goodwill. Bought a large bag of the kids, farm extras and cars there.

    • Courtney South

      I found a $200 Judith March dress for a friend of mine for $4!! love goodwill!

    • HTaylor

      On Wednesdays, the Goodwill in our area puts out brand new items donated by Target! It used to be 25% discount on Wednesday for Military and Senior citizens, but now it’s 10% everyday now

    • I’d suggest trying on clothes in sizes you don’t think you wear. You never know how they’ve been laundered, so maybe larger sizes have shrunk and will fit you. Or, if they are older, the sizing might have changed.

    • Dawn A.

      I just bought a beautiful J.Crew wool pea coat for $8.99. Cha-Ching! Also, you can return items for store credit within a week if you change your mind.

    • Silvermoon57

      I enjoy the great bargains I get at Goodwill and Red Racks(disabled american veterans). I pay it back in 2 ways, thru donations and at the register I always give at least $2.00 for the cause, more so at Red Racks because my husband is a Vietnam Era Vet. Sometimes when you’re getting a wonderful deal donate a few dollars, makes everyone feel so much better and you leave on a high note!!! :D

    • Teresa

      As a home school mom I have used to shop good will for books. We got tons of great books for usually about 75c each. I don’t always shop for clothes but I might have to look more closely. I did find a desk and a vanity before Christmas for my daughter’s room. I waited to ‘think’ about it and a couple days later they were both gone. If you really like it, get it right away!

    • Heather

      We have a local thrift store in our town that is incredible! On Friday, I found 8 pairs of pants for my husband for $36! One pair was only $1 because it was “the” color tag. One pair was from Jos. A. Bank, and every pair I bought looked brand new. My husband even commented on how great they all look!

    • Pure Diva

      I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The thrift stores here have gone crazy with their prices! And nothing is sized. Once in awhile they’ll have a 50% off sale on certain items–but even then the prices are high. Instead I travel to where my daughter lives about 90 minutes from me to shop the Good Will stores in her area. They are wonderful. Everything is sized and organized. And the prices are quite fair. As for my treasures I’ve uncovered…..Many designer clothes (including Michael Kor’s, Victoria’s Secret, Juicy Coture and more). I’ve also gotten Crate & Barrel, Pier 1 & other labels. For me its like a treasure hunt. I always look behind the counter first since that’s where they usually put the “expensive” items. I got a John Cole purse that retails for $400 for a cool $39.99!!