A couple of days I took a day trip with my oldest kids to do some shopping for apparel. Specifically the oldest three wanted to get shoes and the girls and I needed summer tops. I had the great idea to take them to an outlet mall, where supposedly prices are much better than at the non-outlet stores for the same brands. Before we got to the outlet mall, we passed a Goodwill in the neighborhood we were doing our food shopping, and decided to pop in to see if we could find anything suitable.
Turns out all womens’ cotton knit tops were on sale that week at 2/$5, and the more expensive ones were 2/$10. You had to have a discount card to get this price, but I figured it was worth $4.25 to buy discount card that I could use for a year – especially since we saved $24 on our first purchase as a result (after the cost of the discount card we saved $19.75). That was a nice bit of fun shopping, since in addition to saving money on nice shirts (mostly name brand and all good quality – we got 16 tops and a few other items for $55) it saved us the time of having to go in and out of lots of other stores looking for clothes.
Then we spent a long time in the outlet stores, and all of them were getting more tired and disappointed with the prices and selection as time went on. I was so glad when my ds16 found a pair of nice shoes at Bass – they were $30 and had been marked down 75% (down from $119). He was looking for something very specific and was pleased with his purchase; I was pleased that after all of our time in the stores, that someone finally found something they wanted!
As we drove away, my dd13 said the prices were ‘kind of disappointing’. I never thought about the situation I’ve created until then – my kids are used to having nice quality clothes, but they’re also used to my very low purchase prices (thanks to careful thrift store shopping, hitting seasonal sales at retail stores, and clothing exchanges with friends). They aren’t used to spending top dollar for the kind of clothes they’re used to wearing, and they kept saying nothing they were looking at was worth the money. One of them said, “Now I know why people think having kids is expensive – they must be dressing their kids from head to toe in stores like that!”
Then as we were driving by just a few minutes later, I noticed another Goodwill and spontaneously asked the kids if they wanted to stop in there. This Goodwill had something I’ve never seen around here (the Salvation Army in Seattle had something similar, though), a bargain room. The bargain room (or whatever it was called) was a separate Goodwill store next to the regular Goodwill, where all clothes were put after they hadn’t sold for a given amount of time. All the prices were low, low, low. But it wasn’t nicely organized or arranged on racks – you had to hunt through things to find what you wanted. There was nothing wrong with the items themselves, though – I saw some clothing that still had the original retail tags on them.
Within a minute of walking in, I found galoshes for ds16 – he had literally said five minutes before we walked in that he needs to get galoshes for his new shoes to protect them in rainy weather (since he walks back and forth to shul/synagogue daily, regardless of weather), and these were the perfect fit and style for the dress shoes he bought. $1.50. Then he found a really nice pair of shoes of leather shoes in great condition – another $1.50. He wore them all day yesterday and said he can’t believe it, but he likes them as much or maybe even more than the new shoes he got at Bass, that he was VERY happy with. (Ds has a very nice sense of style and somewhat expensive taste in clothing – which is why he wanted new shoes even though he had two excellent pairs of shoes that I bought him – the style wasn’t ‘just so’.) Then he found a white dress shirt for .75 and a raincoat for $2. You might expect that kids would rather shop for new clothes in retail stores because it’s supposedly ‘cooler’; it’s funny but after doing all the shopping we did at the outlets, all of them appreciated a thrift store like this much more!
I’m not allowed to tell you what I bought for anyone else because I can’t embarrass my kids by telling you the amazing bargains we found. 😆 Actually, pretend I didn’t mention the above finds at the first Goodwill. They don’t want their friends scrutinizing their clothes after hearing from their mothers who read this blog and wondering what we got at a thrift store and what we paid retail prices for. You mothers who tell your kids what you read here should know that you’re seriously limiting my ability to write anything!! 😆 I told them that I highly doubted their friends would be put off that they got so many nice clothes at a fraction of what most of their peers would pay for the same thing, but whatever.
I guess you can say my kids have officially recognized the value of thrift store shopping for themselves! It was a fun day and nice to come home laden with our purchases. Even shopping with fashion-conscious teens doesn’t have to break the bank!