By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Everyone is trying to make their hard-earned pennies go just a little farther these days. And when it comes to finding a good deal, it doesn’t get much better than your local thrift store.
Thrift stores have many of the items a family needs, from clothing and shoes to appliances and furniture, at prices that are a fraction of their retail cost. Most thrift stores are set up to raise funds for a charity, and receive the bulk of their items as donations from the public.
“A lot of people come in because our prices are good, very affordable,” Kizzy Outlaw, manager of the Palmer Home Thrift Store in Starkville said.
Clothing is generally available for just a few dollars, but most thrift stores offer additional sales or discounts. Broken Wings Thrift Store in Ackerman has a $5 bag sale on the first and third Saturday of each month. Customers are given a bag and stuff as many clothing items as they can into it for a flat charge of $5. The Palmer Home Thrift Store uses a color-coded discount system.
“We use color-coding tags. Each month our tags change,” Outlaw said. “This month is green, which is regular price. Yellow is 25 percent off, and black is 50 percent off. And each month those colors rotate.”
While those prices are tempting, any experienced thrifter will tell you that getting a good deal is about more than just price. Deal-seeking shoppers can be easily wooed by a tiny sticker price. But a deal isn’t a deal if the item is something you don’t really want or need.
When it comes to shopping for clothes at a thrift store, there are a few rules to follow to get the most out of your shopping experience according to BlissfullyDomestic.com. First, make sure it’s something you could see yourself actually wearing. Keep an eye out for high quality fabrics, name brands, and classic items that never go out of style. If you can, try on the clothing items. Bringing someone with you for a second opinion who can talk you out of any purchases you might regret. Inspect the items for rips, stains or any other imperfections. If it doesn’t look like something you could fix yourself, then it really won’t be much of a deal.
Even if you’re not fond of the idea of wearing second-hand clothing, thrift stores still have a lot to offer. Stores often purchase some items brand new and sell them at a much lower price than you’d find at a mall or department store.
The Palmer Home Store, for example, sells new and modern style couches, bedroom sets, and dining table sets, not the faded, musky, floral print furniture that are typical at thrift stores.
No matter which store you choose, thrift stores take some of the guilt out of spending money. Profits often go to support their non-profit organizations.
“The biggest difference between each thrift shop is what we support,” Jonathan Perry, manager of the Children’s Mansion thrift shop in Tupelo said. “They’re all good causes, but different causes.”
Other stores, like the Salvation Army or Broken Wings Thrift Store use the money generated to help out members of their communities that have fallen on hard times.
“When there is a special need, a house fire, or natural disaster, our store is open to people involved for no charge,” Roger Griffith of Broken Wings said. “We put thousands of dollars back into the community every year.”
If you’re new to shopping at thrift stores, don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a great deal the first time you visit. The stores get new donations all the time, so their inventory changes regularly. If you check back frequently, you’re more likely to find a steal.