Salvation Army Thrift Store - Santa Monica California
Credit: JGKlein; Retrieved April 24, 2011 at:,_Santa_Monica,_CA.JPG

I'm not going to lie, I am addicted to thrift store shopping! There is a thrill in finding a great bargain. And based on my experiences, getting great bargains is easiest at thrift stores. Thrift stores are great for many reasons. Many of them are for charity and serve a higher purpose. There are thrift stores for many types of charities: religious, animal rights, people with disabilities, cancer patients, and just about any other cause you can think of. You can choose to shop in a store that supports your personal values; I personally am not very concerned about which charity I support, just that I do support charity instead of corporate profits.

Another great benefit of thrift stores, is that they tend to hire people that are disadvantaged in society. I appreciate helping those less fortunate to have a job with benefits and a program to help them back on their feet. An additional benefit is the great bargains that can be had. And that is what I am going to focus on for the rest of this article.

Some of the best bargains involve the categories of: clothing, bric-a-brac, furniture, books and other media. Some of my best bargains have been a complete eight piece setting of China for $20, a $130 Ralph Lauren Dress-shirt for six dollars, and countless newer hardback books for one or two dollars apiece. I especially like the clothing section, one of my local thrift stores receives stuff from a local dry cleaner where people have abandoned their clothing. People don't tend to drop off Wal-Mart shirts and slacks at the dry cleaners. Usually it is high-quality low worn merchandise. It is not uncommon to get great slacks from name brand designers like Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Boss, and others for $10 or less per pair. The same applies to shirts and ties and other accessories. I have also found many designer shoes with very low wear for similar pricing.

Of course, it does depend on the area of town that you shop in. If you want to get the best bargains, shop in the best parts of town. The same goes for garage sales, you'll get the name brands at deep discounts. Another great category is furniture. You won't get delivery, but you can get great bargains by shopping at the thrift store. I've seen some great pieces, without much wear for killer bargains. One of my favorites, was an Ethan Allen coffee-table for $100. A very similar model at the retail store would have been over $500. I also got a complete dining room table with four chairs, albeit not a name brand but for only $65. I'm still using it for years later without any problems.

My favorite sections, is the book section. While I love my Kindle, and the free e-books I can get on Amazon, I still love holding an actual paperback or hardback book. The smell of the paper, physically turning the pages is still a great feeling. And I have found some great books, sometimes for as little as a quarter at the thrift store. Heck, at that price it is cheaper than a single day of being late at the library. Usually I find the book section to be one of the busiest at the thrift store, because there is so much selection and you can get such great deals. Usually in the book section there is also media like CDs, games, and even cassettes and vinyl records. My car still has a standard cassette player, so buying cassettes for $.25 each satisfies my music listening needs while in the car.

All in all I find that I can consistently find better bargains at the thrift store then even at garage sales, and estate sales. Some even have special discount days, check with your favorite stores to see what their policies are. Too many people that I've talked to think I'm strange or a cheapskate because they have preconceptions or perhaps misconceptions about thrift stores. They think they are dingy, dirty and stocked with junk. But nothing could be further from the truth. They are wonderful bargain hunting opportunities that serve great charities and help many people less fortunate in the community through their charity.

Thrift stores are also a great place to get rid of stuff you have laying around the house. You can write off the merchandise you give on your taxes, and save on your yearly tax bill. They also provide a way for your lightly used, high-quality gifts to help those that are less fortunate in the community, even when you don't have the ability to provide a monetary gift to those charities. As long as you are providing good salable merchandise you can feel proud about your gift and how you are helping the community, and providing good jobs to those that are less fortunate in society.