I recently spoke to Michael Gold of TheThriftShopper.com about the three elements of thrifting, how some thrift stores fool patrons, and where the best thrifting can be found. Gold buys all of his clothes at thrift stores, most of his family’s furniture, all of their reading materials second hand.
What is one thing people don’t realize they can find at thrift stores? What people don’t think they can find at thrift stores is everything. People think that thrift stores are only clothes. Larger thrift stores are mini used department stores. I don’t think people realize you can go to Habitat for Humanity and buy a refrigerator.
Do environmental concerns come into play for you? I enjoy the three elements of thrifting: saving money, giving to charity and being environmentally friendly.
What’s special about your website, TheThriftShopper? We only list charity resale shops exclusively. There are many thrift shops out there where they will play religious music, have crosses behind the desk, and say ‘God bless,’ but none of the money goes to charity.
How do you tell if a charity is benefiting? I verify all the listings in my directory through conversations. There is one exception to my rule. Any thrift shop benefiting veterans organizations are for profit. The dictionary definition of charity is giving money or a product to benefit a charitable cause. If you are benefiting yourself, you are not a charitable cause. Yes, people have the right to make money but they do not have the right to forgo the option of the donor to take the donation to a legitimate charity.
How many listings does your site have? 95,002.
What’s the best way to introduce someone to thrift stores who is, for whatever reason, reluctant to buy used? I bet you can’t take anybody into a thrift shop and have them look at things and not find something they’ll want to take home. I work with the National Navy UDT-Seal Museum and the administrative assistant was saying, ‘what can you find at thrift shops?’ I don’t know if you have to do it at gun point, but they’ll walk in and see it.
What is the best thrift deal you’ve gotten? We got a set of Broyhill Brazilia furniture set. Brazilia was a president of Brazil who decided to build a city in the middle of the Amazon. He designed it with jets and space in mind. Broyhill Braziliza came out with a line of furniture to reflect that style. My wife and I found a full bedroom set – men and women’s dressers, side tables – for $300. Once it’s finished it’s a $4,000 bedroom set! The best thrifting is in the best part of town. Whatever ritzy blitzy you have going on, that’s where the best thrifting is.
What are your tips for getting the best deals at thrift shops? Ask about the sale schedule because many thrift shops work on a color tag system and each week a certain colored tag will be on sale. Make sure you sign up if they have an email list. They’ll send you coupons. Find them on Facebook and Twitter. More and more thrift stores are becoming web savvy and they are marketing through social media.
There have always been people interested in thrifting. How has the economy changed thrifting? The economy has opened people’s eyes. ‘We had better find ways to save money. Let’s check out thrifting.’ The traffic on my website has done exactly the opposite of what the economy has done.
I’ve heard parents are shopping at thrift stores for back to school. Is this something you’ve seen? Oh yeah. Some thrift store mangers are really sharp. They do the regular seasonal thing that the regular department stores do. They have a back to school sale going the whole month of August. They’ll put all their school supplies and clothing for young people on sale.
Anything else you want to add? If you thrift shop you have to also consider giving back to thrift shops. My wife and I constantly have a pile that is going to be donated.