Thrift Store Shopping 101

Written by Cricket

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If you know me at all, then you know that nearly everything I own comes from a thrift store. It’s where I shop. It’s the first thing I scout out when I visit a town (I even found them in Scotland and Ireland when we were there). Sometimes my family tries to divert my attention elsewhere if they spot a thrift store before I do. They know I can spend hours there. I’ll often promise to set my timer and be out in 15 minutes. I can do that sometimes, but it’s hard.

Thrift store shopping can be really fun if you have the time and know how they work. Each store has a system of sales and coupons that really make a difference in what you pay. In Phoenix, our two largest stores are #Goodwill and #Savers (Value Village). These are very large national and international chains, but their sales may differ by area. Both of theses stores use their profits to help others in different ways. Goodwill is a non-profit, so you don’t pay sales tax. Savers does supports other charities, but it is not a non-profit, so you do pay sales tax, at least in Arizona.



Thrift Store Shopping 101: Goodwill

Sale Tags • $1.50 Thursday • 50% Saturday • 20% Coupon • Returns





Sale Tags



Each week Goodwill uses one color to price used items that they put out for sale. Right now the color order they use is Blue, Purple, Pink, Green, Yellow, Orange. That is the order in which they will go on sale week by week. The color that has been out the longest will be 50% off for the week.



$1.50 Thursday (My favorite day!)



Goodwill color tag sales begin on Friday and end the following Thursday. This means that all items with the color tag that is on sale will be 50% off from Friday to Wedsnesday. Then on Thursday, all items remaining with that color tag will be $1.50. Then on Friday the cycle continues with the next color.




Yesterday my daughter and I decided to look for school clothes for her and limited ourselves to only Green tags, which were $1.50.



1 Gorgeous Prom dress

12 Casual Dresses

1 Business suit with skirt, pants, and Jacket (needed for her MMUN activities)

2 Business Jackets

4 pair of pants

5 skirts

12 shirts


Adding up all the prices on the green tags, this would have cost $318.56 not on sale, and about $2,000.00 at full retail price!

Actual cost of $1.50 per tag was $55.50.



50% Off Saturdays

In addition to weekly color tag sales, every other Saturday ALL COLOR TAGS are on sale at 50% off. Needless to say, there are lines to get in on this day, but it really isn’t too bad.



20% Off Coupon

You used to be able to get a 20% off coupon for donating to Goodwill, but not anymore. However, if you sign up to receive Goodwill emails, they will send you a 20% coupon each month that you can either print or show them on your phone. You can use it as many times as you like on items not on sale as long as you spen $10 or more.


TIP: Take a screen shot of your coupon so that it is always readily available without scrolling through your email to find it.



Special Sales

Goodwill also has various special sales throughout the year, which they will notify you of via email. I’ve seen special book sales where all books are $1, Christmas in July sales, Back to School sales, etc. You never know when one will show up.




Goodwill accepts returns for store credit on most things within 14 days of purchase. Look at the tag or ask a sales associate if the item you want to buy is returnable.




Thrift Store Shopping 101: Savers


Sale Tags • $2 Wednesday • Club Card • Punch Cards • Donations • Returns




Sale Tags



Savers uses color tags the same way Goodwill does, only they have 6 colors instead of 5. They are Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Silver. (I don’t have their color order right now because I’ve never kept track, but I’ll list it here soon.) Savers 50% off sales run Thursday through Tuesday.



$2 Wednesday

Every Wednesday all items with the color tag that has been on sale will be just $2. Then on Thursday the cycle continues with the next color.



Members Club Card



Savers also encourages you to sign up for their Members Club Card. You will need this to take advantage of  Club Card Day (Thursday) when your entire purchase is 25% off when you present your card. You also receive emails of upcoming sales and usually get to take advantage of the sale a day ahead of everyone else.



Seniors Day

If you are 65 Years or older, then you get 30% every Tuesday! They sometimes even play music you’ll love, which is a plus because sometimes I wonder what they are thinking.



Punch Cards



Yet another way to save money! Savers usually has some kind of punch card sale where you get a punch for every $5 you spend. Once it is full, you usually get 30% off your entire purchase when used within the current year.






Until recently, our Savers in the Phoenix area gave you a $3 off coupon when you donated. Now, however you get a punch card that can equal up to 30% off your entire purchase once the card is full. You can then use the card anytime through the current year. How many punches you get usually depends on who is doing the punching. I’ve gotten anywhere from 4 punches to two cards filled. I do donate a lot. Savers always notes that your donations and purchases help to suppor the Boys and Girls clubs of Arizona.




Finally, if you don’t like what you bought, you can return it to Savers within 7 days. There are some items, like Goodwill, that are not returnable. You will receive store credit for all returns and you have to buy the same day you return. (However, they will usually give you an extension by writing a new date on your receipt if you can’t find anything.)


That’s it for Goodwill and Savers, but don’t limit yourself to these thrift stores only. There are so many in every community, and each one has their own particular sales that make your money go further. That is some serious stretching when you take advantage of thrift store sales, right?


Here are some websites to help you on your thrifty way in and around Phoenix.









About the author


Welcome to my blog! I’m Cricket (yes, my parents named me that!) and I’m a natural homesteader. Growing up in rural Idaho with a garden, a horse, and lots of canned food, I like to bring those sensibilities to my suburban home in Phoenix, Arizona. Add a little dose of cottage garden flavor and permaculture tendencies, and you’ll see why GardenVariety.Life is a reflection of everything I do.

I truly enjoy sharing the skills that promote a meaningful and practical connection to our gardens and environment. Because so many residents of the metro phoenix area are transplants, I find that the area’s unique desert climate is often misunderstood and underestimated in terms of what is possible. That’s where the fun begins. Arizona is a burgeoning permaculture haven with homesteading written all over it, and there is nothing I enjoy more than encouraging others to jump in and give it a try.