Category Archives: Thrift Stores

Fashionistas Say: Thrift Store Bargain Hunting is Hot!

In each city and small town there is usually a thrift store or secondhand store. These stores run the gamut of merchandise. Clothing usually occupies the majority of the floor space; however, other items can include antiques, jewelry, housewares, furniture, tools, electronics, books, toys, department store markdowns and seconds, and even cars. But, even in these constabularies for cost cutters and bargain hunters, there are pitfalls for the inexperienced and unaware shopper. To improve your chances of discovering the ultimate treasure or bargain, Markdown Mom offers the following tips as a part of the Thrift Store Campaign Series:


Reminder: Calling All Twin Cities Brides

Goodwill located at 553 Fairview Avenue North in St. Paul is holding its’ Annual Sale of Bridal Dresses this Saturday, February 21, 2009, from 9A.M.-3P.M.  This year the inventory is worth over $1million!  Many top designer fashions to choose from, new or barely worn. 

Plus there will be apparel for the entire bridal party including bridesmaids dresses and mother-of-the-bride dresses.  And with prom season coming up, inventory for sale includes evening wear. 


For those who are planning a special occasion this year, you cannot afford to miss this event!  Reminder to those not living in the Twin Cities, check with your local Goodwill store to see if and when they are holding a similar event–you may be surprised!

Related Blogs

  • Related Blogs on Bridal and Prom Sales

New Phenomena: Thrift Store Chains

A new style of thrift store is responding to the economic and popular need of bargain hunters to find items both practical and decorative at great prices.  MDM has found that in the larger cities like the Twin Cities, one entity manages several thrift stores under one non-profit umbrella similar to a department store chain.  Valu Thrift, and Valu Stores are some of the names that belong to the same nonprofit entity. 

Pricing is uniformed  within a category.  For example, a pictures, prints,  regardless of size and quality will be priced the same unless it is a true antique.  Designer purses such as Coach and Gucci are priced from $19.99-$24.99.  Glassware from a handblown apple to an antique liquor bottle will run you $1.80

If you find a spectacular buy, you could buy it at the time, or wait for the weekly Customer Appreciation Day that varies from store to store and save an additional 25% off all purchases.   The inventory is extensive and includes both new and used merchandise.  MDM found beautiful gowns and suits in the apparel areas, rugs and area rugs, jewelry, furniture, electronics, accessories, home decor items, and more.  Plan on spending 1-2 hours, depending upon the size of the store and an organized attack plan of shopping the stores.  Items for sale go first to a central location and then evenly distributed among the stores, but due to supply, you will not see the exact same merchandise at each store.   MDM recommends that you make a list of each store according to their customer appreciation day and shop them on that day to maximize your savings. 

Tip: Come across an item you are not sure about, put it in your cart and edit your selections right before checking out.  It’s easier to discard an item than it is to retrace your steps to find an item you have reconsidered. 

These stores do not provide a complimentary wheelchair, but generally have doors that open automatically.

Thrift Stores Looking More Like Consignment Shops

Have you noticed a change in the look at your favorite thrift store? The fact that thrift stores have a new middle class clientele has dispensed the belief that these stores catered only to the economically challenged or for junkers and dealers. And with many items being recycled department store markdowns, the apparel selection is not out of fashion, but up-to-date styles. Subsequently, thrift stores is expanding out of the inner city and into suburban neighborhoods, and even the physical layout of the stores has been updated and now are taking on the look of popular consignment shops.

Recently Markdown Mom visited one of her favorite thrift stores that has recently annexed two neighboring stores. This has provided not only needed space, but storefront display. Inventory has increased to include a larger selection of furniture, modern and antique, and to organize the merchandise more effectively, oftentimes creating theme display areas. These stores now are competitors not only for the consignment shops, but closeout stores. Although prices have gone up, they are still extremely reasonable. However, for the collector or antique hunter pricing is more savvy, and, therefore, it is more difficult to uncover a “find.” Plus mattresses and box springs banned before, now are being sold; however, this is new merchandise in their original wrappings. Additionally, thrift stores are now offering promos such as Senior Day each week when 55+ individuals can receive 25% off their purchases.

The main tip in finding a great bargain is to shop early, and shop often. Merchandise can change daily and timing is everything. Remember, you have more competition nowadays!

Bargain Banter: Buying and The “R” Word, Plus Out & About In Search of Store Markdowns

The "R" word is a double-edged sword.  One way it cuts, hurts retailers since even inventory control cannot  make up for the lack of customers in the stores and usually the hurt trickles down to laid-off employees and additional hardships placed upon those who were barely making ends meet before this crunch coping with rising interest rates on home mortgages with adjustable rates, and increasing inflation of energy needs, and staples such as food.

The other way it cuts is that retailers forced to make markdowns have some real bargains on the shelves.  What to do?  Of course, the first order of business is to see that you can keep a roof over your head, food, and be able to keep going to work.  But that doesn’t mean that you can forego any buying whatsoever because those of us with families still have to clothe our children, and see to their educational needs, and emotional well-being.  With that in mind, the mission of this blog is to see that you are able to get the best deal or the greatest savings, so that depreciated dollar can go further.

Markdown Mom has noticed that thrift stores have increased traffic, but even there you have to be a savvy shopper.  Prices at the thrift stores have gone up, especially books and antiques & collectibles, but you can usually get good bargains on about everything else.  Many items are bought in lots from familiar stores and usually priced at about half of the retail and most often, half of the stores’ markdown price.  As with any savvy shopping, be aware of the item’s retail price prior to its’ hitting the thrift stores.  Remember that much of this merchandise is past season;  so right now that means Fall-Winter merchandise including holiday.

Target instore is having some terrific sales with 30%-75% off especially in linens such as their top line, Fieldcrest, and some of it is the early Spring merchandise that came in right after the holidays.  But not all Target stores are created equal, the Super Target stores have more markdowns to select from since the smaller Target stores took their markdowns about 2 weeks ago because of space needs for the new merchandise. 

Plus, the jewelry sales slump has resulted in some real bargains of up to 75% off their better jewelry.

In electronics, you can even find some Wii programs and the occasional flat screen tv  at 30%-50% off

For all you Joy Mangano clients, you now can purchase her hangers at Target in an array of pastel colors. 

Wal*Mart has decreased their huge bins of DVD’s from 2/$11.00 to 2/$10.00.  Wal*Mart markdowns tend not be as deep since the original price is usually low end–so there’s not a lot of flexibility in discount pricing.  However, you can find apparel on circular racks with a flat price of $3 and $5.  Don’t pass those racks up since the material would cost you more than the completed garment. 

Oh, cooks and gourmets will be glad to hear that they are once again carrying those wonderful glass bottles with spouts for under $3 that are so handy for dispensing olive oil, vegetable oil, or making your own herb vinegars. 

KMart continues it’s clearance policy with an extra 60% off.  Usually there are several places in the store with clearance areas, it just takes times to locate them all, but well worth the effort!

Brides on a Budget-SAVE THE DATE

Getting married and worried about $$$?

Then, you’ll want to check out the Goodwill Bridal Showcase Event this coming Saturday, February 23, 9am to 3pm at the Twin Cities Goodwill/Easter Seals location on Fairview Avenue in St. Paul. 

There will be more than a hundred dresses including one-of-a-kind wedding gowns, bridesmaid, special occasion, and mother-of-the-bride dresses.  Most wedding gowns priced at $99.  New, slightly used, bridal store samples, and designer gowns will be 50 to 70% off the original price!  Also available will be women’s and men’s shoes, including men’s black wingtips.

The event is FREE.  There will be dressing rooms, free drawings and refreshments.  Participating wedding professionals include: City Image Salon Uptown, Wedding Gown Care Specialists, Post Haste Tailors, Midway Party Rental, Ideatap Studios, Twin Town String Quartet, Maurice Northrup Photography, Mocha Blue Concierge & Errands, Wells Catering Service.

553 Fairview Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55104
Google Map


SAVERS® is one of America’s largest thrift stores.  The first store opened in San Francisco in 1954 by William O. Ellison, grandson and nephew of
Ben and Orlo Ellison who helped build the Salvation Army Thrift Organization during the 1930s and 1940s. Ellison’s vision of recycling and helping the
 community grew into a national chain
which now also has locations in Canada and Australia.

MarkDownMom’s recent excursion to Savers in Minneapolis, MN came with a number of wonderful surprises!

The amount of merchandise literally spans several rooms, so be prepared to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and spend at least 2 hours to uncover Savers many gems.   Savers has a wide array of clothing (many top notch brand names: Perry Ellis, The Gap, Aeropostale, Worthington, Lands End ), shoes, kitchenware, paintings/pictures, books/magazines, and other unique household goods. 

Don’t let the store overwhelm you and don’t be too shy.  You really need to dig in areas to find the best bargains.  Markdownmom took twenty minutes looking at Savers many pictures and almost missed two framed shadow boxes containing mounted butterflies for her daughter’s entomology collection, hidden in a corner amongst larger photos.  MDM snatched them up right away– a steal at $2.99!

In addition to the mounted butterflies, MDM sleuthed a large mahogany shadowbox lined in blue velvet for $7.99.  Shadow boxes like the one can cost online from $26.00-$48.00.  What a fantastic gift to display any collections! 

MDM found a few treasures for herself like this lovely crane in housewares for $6.99.

Donations come from private donors, non-profit alliances, and store closeouts which cycles frequently so every store will have a different selection and no two days will be alike.


 Items are priced higher than comparable thrift stores like GoodWill, St. Vincent de Paul’s, or Salvation Army, but proceeds help to support over 10,000 team members and help to fund community non-profits while promoting recycling efforts.

Find a Saver’s Store Location near YOU!