Thrift Store Shopping In-Store vs. Online  


Where do you shop for home decor or the best vintage pieces for your wardrobe? Head to a thrift store. It is possible to find some treasures online when seeking out the pieces right for your space, but don’t overlook the value of shopping in-person. At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we encourage you to seek out thrifts in every form.

Why Shopping in-Person Is Often Best

You don’t have to limit yourself from either shopping in a physical store or using an online thrift store. However, when it comes to process, there are a few key reasons why you may love shopping in-person best.

Seeing Isn’t Experiencing

One of the reasons to visit a physical Goodwill location is to really experience an item up close. When you are in-store, you’re able to see the material up close to notice the details and character built into it. You can also touch it, which means knowing if the texture is right for you. If you are buying clothing, that’s important.

Consider finding a beautiful chair. It could be vintage with a lot of detail. When you find a treasure like this onsite, you can pick it up to see how heavy it is. You can consider the overall dimensions to know if it fits your specific needs well. You can also touch it to see if the material is comfortable. Touching is a big part of buying experiences, especially in a thrift store where there are so many versatile options to consider.

Explore the Condition a Bit More Thoroughly

When shopping at an online thrift store, it can be hard to know each piece’s actual condition. Sure, you can read its description as “fair” or “good,” but what you think is good condition may not be what others do. Your goal here, then, is to consider the condition of the item that fits your needs.

Let’s go back to that piece of vintage furniture. The condition of it makes a difference. Do you want to purchase something that you can fix up a bit and use? The condition may warrant a comprehensive refurbishment instead. When you find these items in person, you have a better idea of determining if the condition is worth it to you, specifically.

The Details Matter to You

Color and style are hard to photograph especially when it comes to clothing. That’s why in-person visits are so important. Knowing the shade of a color or the way the light hits it can be important to finishing out your wardrobe or choosing the right complementary pieces to go with it.

There are many times when the details matter – the pattern, color, texture, or detailed carving. Sometimes the value and benefit a product can offer you is only possible to see in person. Unless you know these details from the manufacturer, it is harder to buy online and know exactly what you are getting.

There’s New Stuff All of the Time

One of the things to remember about online thrift stores is that someone has to upload photos and a description of items in order for you to find them. That takes some time. In the process, a few of those items can make it to the sales floor, where people buying in-store can do so right away.

In other words, if you are only shopping online, you may be missing opportunities to purchase items because others get access first.

At the same time, it is not always possible for every item available at the location to be listed online. The manpower it takes for that process can be simply too much. Rare, interesting, or hard-to-sell pieces may be found online until they are sold to someone else, whether online or in person.

There’s Always a Deal Available to You in Person

One of the things that makes our Goodwill location so important to put on your must-visit list each week is that there are always lots of deals available. From 50 percent off color tag sales to clearance opportunities, you are sure to find something fun to check out with savings attached to it. Military and student ID days are another way to save money.

When you visit our physical location, you also get to take advantage of deals of the day. Those may not be available to you online. Why overspend on the items? Be sure to check out what’s available frequently during the week, when possible, to ensure you always get the best deal.

Consider the Shipping Process and Costs

Depending on the online thrift store, you may end up paying more for the purchase of the same items. That’s because there may be:

  • Minimum purchase requirements for items to ship
  • The cost of shipping items to your location
  • The need for expedited shipping if you do not want to wait too long
  • Weight and size of the item
  • Your ability (if possible) to buy online and pick up in-store

With shipping, it’s important to remember that costs can add up quickly. That thrift store purchase may not be as lucrative or as good of a deal as you initially thought.

The Good of Online Thrift Store Shopping

There are some great reasons to use online shopping to find thrift bargains. First, make sure you are choosing true online thrift stores (here’s a hint – just because a large retailer or other outlet says it is a thrift store or clearance pricing destination doesn’t mean you are getting a great deal!)

Make sure to check out our Goodwill online shopping opportunity. You can use our online thrift store to find great deals at any time. That’s one of the best reasons to use this as a secondary backup option for your in-store purchases.

There are some key advantages to buying online:

  • Shop anytime from anywhere.
  • Avoid the risk of going into the store during a pandemic (keep in mind that Goodwill’s safety precautions make this much safer than you may think!)
  • Check out new items being added all the time.

Make sure that, no matter where you buy online, you know the rules and the costs involved. Some thrift stores don’t have the manpower to keep their online inventory up to date, and that means that you may not find everything you need available to you.

Which is the Best Way to Find Deals?

Whether you are shopping for home décor items such as furniture or art, or you are on the prowl for the best vintage clothing items out there, shop with us in person for the best access to products and top-notch service. Ask us your questions. Find the best deals available at any time.

There’s no doubt, though, that you can still find some good deals online. Why not shop both? If you are bored waiting to pick up the kids in the school pick-up line, there’s no reason not to check out what’s available online. On the other hand, making it a point to stop in to see us each week ensures you get access to some of the items not often found online.

Goodwill | Father and son Shopping

Exciting Events this Week!

Amazing things are always happening at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona! Whether you are looking for a daily special or want to participate in one of our job training events, we have something for you.


*Daily deals valid at select Metro Phoenix, Prescott and Yuma locations. Please check with your neighborhood Goodwill for details.

Discount valid on used merchandise only. Not valid on food or drink, new goods, seasonal or holiday items. Not valid at Goodwill Clearance Center. Our REDESIGN by Goodwill and Clearance Outlet are excluded. REDESIGN operates separate sales and discounts from other Goodwill stores.