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Thu Sept 12 2013 20:39:36

Do Some Thrift Stores Charge Too Much?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Have you ever been browsing through a thrift shop and come across a price that was less-than-thrifty? I've been seeing more and more sellers complain about this (especially, of course, those who source items at thrifts). I've noticed the phenomenon at a local thrift store I regularly troll, which used to be a good source for golf shirts, but not so much anymore.

My local Goodwill, however, has very reasonable prices, and tends to have one set price for one kind of thing, so you can cherry-pick among a row. But this is not true of all Goodwills; one seller on a forum wrote that the the local Goodwill where he lives raised all the prices on one type of shirts. "They're all at least $5.99-$6.99 regardless of brand," he says. Of course, with the right brand, this can be a very good price. And Goodwills also tend to have regular sales, such as on certain days of the week.

What gets me is when a thrift store prices an item of clothing around what you could get it new at a Forever 21, Wal-mart or Target. On the "Looking Fly on a Dime" blog, Patrice J. Williams also asks, "Are Thrift Store Prices Becoming Too Expensive?" She saw a $19.99 price tag at a Goodwill. "It was a pretty basic label and nothing fancy, so I was baffled at the $20 price tag. Really, $20 for a secondhand dress? For that price, you can get a frock from Forever 21 or the clearance rack at some stores," she points out.

But, she says, she's also seen great deals, such as Casadei pony hair leopard pumps which were just $10, while a pair of Nine West shoes were $15. "Um, the Casadei pumps originally retailed for a little more than 400 bucks!" she writes. "In a situation like this, I understand it a bit more. The longer an item is on the sales floor, the more it’s marked down so maybe the Nine West shoes {though worth less} were just put out on the sales floor so the price hadn’t come down just yet."

In some cases, you just have to be patient and look through a lot of items to find that way-underpriced item. As I tell myself at estate sales, even estate experts can't be experts in *all* areas. One estate sale company whose sales I frequent knows their art and antiques very well, but not much about books. You can guess what I buy more of there.

But even books get overpriced in some places. Yet another thrift I like puts what it considers its pieces-de-resistance in the front. I've seen them ask several hundred dollars for an old set of books. That kind of price is what an online seller would only hope to get from a collector!

What about you? Have you seen a trend in some thrift stores overpricing items, even if it's just some items? Do you think it's just certain kinds of items? If you're still finding treasures at these stores, any scores you care to share? Post a comment here!

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by: mazelgirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 09:44:11 2013

They're out to make money too. Stop complaining, they're not in business to supply your business. If people stop shopping the prices will come down.
As someone said a few posts up she finds higher prices on originally less expensive brands. Happens all the time-everyone knows the names of these brands. The more obscure expensive stuff gets through cheaply because they have no idea what it is.  I love this game!

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This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Mon Sep 16 09:53:33 2013

Go into any thrift store and you'll find that one guy... He's got his eye on you. ''Hmm must be Loss Prevention'', you say. But no, he's watching you pick things up and examine them.

He will buy something even if he doesn't know what it is, just to keep you from getting it. He may even (often) ask how to use it or how it functions, walk right up to your face. The guy has no shame.

He fills his chrome wire shopcart with all your coulda woulda shoulda, then takes it back to his brick-and-mortar shop and marks it double. His van plates say  ''Tennesee''.

Like it or lump it, good or bad, for better or worse, these human impulses acted out daily in thrift stores across the USA,  are what made the old ebay great.

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by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 10:07:27 2013

Goodwill in Cape Girardeau is getting ridiculous.  Designer(?) purse, made in China, poly vinyl chloride and used was $30.00.  Old pottery lamp with 3 long cracks, repaired but brown glue seeping out of the cracks, was $6.00.  Why would they even put it out?  Not to mention rude clerk insinuating I was stealing.  She was showing me a rack of necklaces.  Another patron asked for assistance.  She replied, "I have to watch her."   Then when I checked out, she asked me if I had any jewelry.  I told her "No, of course not!"  She said, "Well, I don't want you walking out with it."  How could I when she had to "watch me."  

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 16 10:45:45 2013

I'm fortunate enough to have a local thrift store that is locally owned, locally run, all profits stay local and it is there to help the people of the community as they even do GED classes, help with signing up for medical and dental care, heating help in the winter etc. The best thing there is the prices. If coats are $2, then even the mink coat and leather jacket are $2 (assuming any are around). Clothing prices are set by categories so even if a woman's evening gown is an original $10K whatever, it is still about $4. I get many craft items including name brand quilting fabric for $1 or less (store value for the amount is $10+). I pick up LOTS of things for 25 cents or less! If I wait long enough all my crafting needs are plentifully supplied. I also am able to pick up a lot of patterns that I resell. So far three patterns that I picked up for 10 cents each last month have sold this month for nice prices. Many of the ladies that work there know that I resell patterns and like I tell them, I would rather resell something to earn my groceries than have to go next door to the food bank.

I can buy clothing pieces for $2 or less and at the end of summer or the end of winter to clear out stock they sell the old season clothing at buy one get one free.

Our town is very generous in donating to our store. A year ago the night before a mortgage burning ceremony when they had paid off their remodeling loan in THREE years, two teenage boys set the place on fire and totaled it and everything in it. I was so glad I had shopped there two days before as everything I had gotten would have been destroyed and I had picked up some great goodies. But the community got together and a few months later the thrift store was rebuilt and in business again. Within a month or two of reopening, as usual the place is full to overflowing with donations. Other than groceries, it is the only place I shop. It is my favorite store! I've talked to the lady that was the major force behind it and her philosophy was this is for the community and whoever donates and whoever buys is welcome. If someone is burned out they get a private visit to pick up what they may now need. It is truly a business that hasn't forgotten it's roots. Nobody is sitting back and earning 6 figure incomes to run it. The volunteers I believe get to 'buy' items depending on how many hours they put in so even if someone can't even afford the low prices, if they are willing to help out they can earn what they need.

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by: Racinggranny This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 12:44:52 2013

I live in Carson City, NV and I noticed that Goodwill have raised their prices, since our employment rate went from 13-14% to lower numbers.  That's ok, but still half the city is unemployed and under paid , so what I do at either Goodwill or Salvation Army is barter with them just like you do at the garage sale or even eBay.  Most of the time they will come down to my price. I don't gouge but why not ask? They are prepared for people to barter with them, believe me!

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by: Quality First This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 17:36:48 2013

Sadly, our Silicon Valley Goodwill and SA's prices have taken a big jump in the last 18 months or so.  

Our family used to be able to buy slightly used clothing for the family at modest prices.  Now, we simply wait for a sale/coupons/promotions at the local chain stores and buy new for about the same.

$10-$18 for used jeans and slacks?  $7 for for used kids shorts?  $30 for a set of normal sheets?  Really?  That's thrift?

While they're free to do as they like, I think in certain categories there is also a public trust to support the less well off in their communities by selling certain necessities at modest prices for the less fortunate and working poor.  

This group needs clothing, donated cleaning supplies, kitchen essentials, basic furniture, school supplies, toys & sporting goods for kids, kids books, warm coats during winter and the like to be priced appropriately.

I honestly think the donors also have an expectation that their donations will find their way to those in need, not just the organizations sponsoring the stores.

As for the high-priced ''treasures'' and luxuries, perhaps it is justifiable to charge ''market/retail'' price for them to raise money for the organizations and their good deeds.  Nobody really ''needs'' a $300-$600 TV or stereo set.  These are often sent to nationwide auction anyway.

Hopefully there will me more discussion of this, perhaps in the national or local media.  And hopefully that the discussion will make a difference.

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This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Wed Sep 18 16:28:09 2013

Maybe I'm crazy, but whenever I blow out the storage trailer and donate the stuff to thrift, I will pop in a couple times a week and see what they priced it at, and what sold.

And also, what they stole...    :(

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by: sells-a-lot This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 19 13:52:56 2013

We have a regional Goodwill outlet here where they sell the items that didn't sell in the stores by the pound. It started off small but since they have raised their store prices in the last year the outlet has doubled in size. Most people don't know where it is so I can still get some fantastic bargains to resell. I never shop in the retail stores, the prices are way too high ($30 for a threadbare Vera Bradley bag or $10 for a no name pair of jeans) and the few times I drive by the parking lot is empty. I get far better deals shopping at retail stores for brand new items than wasting my time at the Goodwill retail stores.  

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