Charitable or non-profit organizations often run thrift shops to raise money to support their missions. Father Joe’s Villages’ thrift stores, for example, help fund critical programs helping neighbors leave homelessness behind. Donating to and shopping at thrift stores has a host of benefits and can support a good cause.
What Can I Donate to a Thrift Store?
Since a thrift shop is only as good as the things people donate to them, here’s a list of ideal new or gently-used items to give to Father Joe’s Villages:
- Clothing: Basically, any kind of clean, slightly used apparel will suffice. That means shoes, suits, dresses, pants, skirts, etc. If it’s in your closet, there’s a good chance it can end up on our racks.
- Household Items: Small appliances that work well (toaster ovens, instant pots, etc.), dishes, glasses, silverware, bedding, rugs, decoration, etc. All are great for donating.
- Jewelry: Almost any type of jewelry is a great choice, from rings to necklaces.
- Accessories: Purses, bags, wallets, ties, hats, etc. They’re all excellent.
- Furniture: If it can be carried by two people or less, then it’s a good choice. That includes chairs, headboards, dressers, etc.
- Electronics: From stereos to TVs to CD players and typewriters, electronics make for a great donation.
- Entertainment: Books, toys, DVDs, VHS tapes, records, board games, sports equipment, and more are suitable for a thrift store.
- Miscellaneous: Tools, luggage, musical instruments, camping gear, etc. When in doubt, just call ahead.
1. Save Money
A thrift store is a great place to buy items that you need at a discount. You can find anything from furniture and appliances to clothing and rare collectibles.
2. Help the Environment
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics considers thrift store sales clerks as having “Green Jobs.” And for a good reason: every part of the clothing production process takes water:
- It takes at least 400 gallons of waterto grow enough cotton to make one t-shirt.
- A pair of jeans needs at least1,800 gallons.
There’s also all the pesticides that are often used to grow cotton, which can contaminate ground and surface water, leading to soil acidification and agricultural run-off that can disrupt ecosystems.
The entire process requires energy. That includes washing, de-sizing, bleaching, rinsing, dyeing, printing, finishing, transporting, packaging, etc.
Shopping at thrift stores encourages the re-use of clothing and items that have already been created, decreasing the need for the production of additional items.
Finally, by shopping at thrift stores, you’re helping decrease the size of landfills.
3. Hardly-Used or New Items
It’s not uncommon to find barely-used items or new items that still have their tags on them.
It’s also not uncommon to find otherwise expensive items for a fraction of the price, especially if your thrift store happens to be located in an upscale area.
And if you have a tailor or access to someone super handy, you can make most garments fit you and repair items that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars brand new.
4. One-Time-Use Items
Need an ugly Christmas sweater for an ugly Christmas sweater party?
Or a costume to get splattered in fake blood for a movie you’re making with friends?
Or clothes to wear while painting that you wouldn’t mind getting paint on?
Then the thrift store is the place for you.
5. The Thrill of the Hunt
Because you never know what you’re going to find at a thrift store (and because they restock so often), every trip is a new adventure. You could find a $1,200 Armani suit jacket for $8 just because it’s from the previous season.
Alternatively, you could find a one-of-a-kind item, discover a collectible, or find the perfect painting to put on your wall. Plus, you might just find something that, fixed-up or as is, can be resold for a profit.
6. Emergency Clothing
Forgot to bring a bathing suit for your trip to the beach?
Show up at the campsite to discover it’s colder than you expected?
Spill ice cream on your button-down?
A thrift shop is a perfect place to pick up what you need when you need it and for a lower price than traditional retail.
7. Far From Home Items
A thrift shop is a great place to visit while on vacation because you might find items that are less common near your own home.
Sweaters, jackets, and skis are more plentiful in colder climates, and cowboy boots may be easier to find in an area where more people wear them.
8. Exercise Equipment & Appliances
It’s New Years, so you decide to commit to exercising and meal prepping. Fast forward two months: dusty dumbbells, exercise equipment used as a coat rack, and an instant pot that’s never even left its packaging.
But one person’s broken New Year’s resolution is another person’s treasure, so head to your local thrift store to get in shape without breaking the bank.
9. Create Your Individual Style
Many people buy their clothes at the same stores but by shopping at a thrift shop, you can create a wardrobe that’s truly your own. You can also buy the sort of clothes that you can convert into brand new items.
Want material for a quilt or some jeans to turn into cut-off shorts? Then a thrift shop is the place for you. Who knows, you may have a knack at it and end up being able to sell your creations.
10. Broken-in Clothes
Clothes in thrift stores are prewashed and preshrunk, so if they fit in the store, you’ll know they’ll fit after you bring them home and wash them. The same goes for shoes that are already broken in
11. Kids’ Clothes
Children grow out of their clothing quickly, so why spend so much on something that has a short lifespan?
Instead, buy children’s clothes at the thrift store and then pay it forward by selling or donating them back.
12. No Hoarding
It may be hard to part with an item when you’ve spent a lot of money on it, even if you’re unlikely ever to wear it again. But if that item was bought for $10 at a thrift store, it’s easier to part ways with it, perhaps by selling or donating it back to the very store you got it from.
13. No Salespeople
Thrift stores don’t have salespeople who make a commission off your purchases, so you don’t have to worry about any uncomfortable interactions.
14. Thrift Stores Often Help Communities
In addition to thrift stores often benefiting local charities, they’re usually involved in community-based programs. Some thrift stores are known to provide job training, employment placement services, and other barriers that may otherwise get in the way of getting work.
Father Joe’s Villages has been a pillar in the San Diego community for more than 70 years. The money you spend also goes back into your local community instead of to a big corporation.
Based on the above, not only can thrifting be an exciting experience, but giving your business to your local thrift store can benefit the local community and provide a green alternative.