Top 5 Things to Buy at Your Community Thrift Store vs. Big-Box Retailer  


There is nothing quite like going to your community thrift store.

Call it a modern-day treasure hunt or an adventure down the street, but visiting a thrift store opens up boundless possibilities. With all sorts of odds and ends at your fingertips and an ever-changing inventory, every experience is different. You just may find what you’re looking for — or what you weren’t that you now love.

But, a thrift store isn’t the best place to buy everything. Sometimes the big-box retailer is your best bet, depending on what you’re currently in the market for.

However, for certain items, a thrift store offers the best value and a particularly unique selection. Plus, in purchasing from a thrift store like Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, you’re contributing to a cycle of reuse and sustainability, as opposed to consistent waste and consumerism.

Let’s take a look at the top five things to buy at your community thrift store versus a big-box retailer.

1. Clothes

When you first think of a thrift store, your mind will likely jump right to clothes. Through general practice, pop culture (looking at you, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, for your song “Thrift Shop”) and greener living, thrift stores have gained great popularity for shopping for “new” clothes.

There are many reasons why thrift shopping for clothes is the way to go. As mentioned before, this mode of purchasing is a more environmentally conscious way to shop. Rather than that clothing item being thrown away and a new piece of clothing being manufactured to replace it, it’s kept in the cycle of use and is more efficient with the earth’s resources.

Thrift shopping for clothes is also more financially savvy. The incredible deals found at thrift shops for name-brand clothes can sometimes be staggering — and generally, thrift stores offer deeper discounts on select items depending on the day. For example, you may stumble upon an upscale shirt that had an original price tag north of 40 dollars, but at the thrift store, you’ll find it for four dollars. With a modest clothing budget, you can fill your closet and feel confident that you made your money go far.

Additionally, because clothing at thrift stores is so wide-ranging and diverse — as opposed to the big-box seasonal selection and limited choices — your fashion picks are up for discovery. You may find a piece that perfectly goes with your style or one that challenges you to step outside of your box. Shopping for clothes at a thrift store stretches your horizons and allows for customization and innovation.

The clothing best found at thrift stores is outerwear; think shirts, pants and jackets.

Shoes are a coin toss. Sometimes, previously used shoes still maintain their quality and offer sufficient support, while other times going new is clearly the best route.

When it’s time to refresh your wardrobe, take a trip to your community thrift store before you visit the big-box retailers. You just might find the perfect fit, all at a bargain price and purchased sustainably.

2. Toys

Yes, sometimes kids just want the latest toy fad, and in that case, it’s off to the big-box retailer you go. However, thrift stores are a treasure trove of action figures, dolls, board games and other toys that your child just might love.

You can do the exploring and pick out a surprise for your little one, but you can also turn this into a fun parent-kid adventure!

Bring your kiddo to the thrift store, and both of you sift and discover what sorts of toys are there. Not only will you be providing your child with a fun experience, but they may find a beloved toy that becomes their focus of play for the next couple of months. And, you can purchase it for a minuscule price compared to something new at a big-box store or online.

As a side note, you yourself may stumble upon a beloved toy from your era. Don’t be bashful if you feel the urge to buy it! Your inner child just might need to walk down memory lane.

3. Kitchen Supplies

Kitchen supplies are a fun category to buy at a thrift store. Whether you’re looking for a complete dish set or just one particular item, you’re likely to find something unique and of decent quality.

Unlike many other items you find thrifting, you can often find full culinary ensembles, like matching dishes, so that you can provide uniformity to your kitchen. On the other hand, if you just need one extra fork or a bowl of a specific size, you can potentially find that missing puzzle piece too.

Just because something is old doesn’t mean it isn’t in good shape. In fact, the craftsmanship of older kitchen supplies is often excellent, and it obviously has stood the test of time.

Whether you’re moving into a new home or want to refresh your kitchen experience, shopping for culinary supplies at a thrift store is a great option.

4. Certain Appliances

We live in a world of gadgets and gizmos, and these technological wonders don’t always last. If you find that a particular simple household appliance has stopped working, such as a landline phone, a toaster or a blowdryer, you may want to take a trip to your local thrift store and see what they have in their inventory.

You won’t find a brand new, top-of-the-line appliance, but you can find something that works and dependably serves its purpose.

Keep in mind; only certain appliances fall under this category. More sophisticated kitchen items, like an air fryer or newer technology, like flat-screen LED televisions, are best sought after online or at big-box retailers.

5. Books

A big theme of visiting thrift stores near you is discovery. Sure, you may be looking for something specific, but if you go thrifting with an open mind, you never know what you’ll find.

This same principle applies to books. Books of all genres and from various decades find their way to the shelves of thrift shops. Many of these likely won’t be found at your nearest book store — they might be out of print or too old to be carried.

Sure, you might be able to find a particular book online, but again, searching for books at a thrift store allows you to randomly discover something you have never heard of but captures your attention. And, it will likely be cheaper to buy it at the thrift shop than on the web.

Thrift Shop Fun Is Priceless

Whatever you are looking for — or are open to finding — visiting a thrift store should be fun. At Goodwill, you can find the perfect piece of clothing, toy, kitchen item, appliance or book, at a bargain price while contributing to a more sustainable planet. Simply type “thrift stores near me” into your search engine to find local options.

When you’re ready to explore the wide world of thrifting, visit your local Goodwill and see what discoveries await!

woman looking at the kitchen section of a thrift store, picking up a bowl off a rack

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.