I love to get most of my family’s clothes from thrift stores and yard sales, but I don’t always buy our clothes there. That’s because I can sometimes get brand new clothes at a lower price than used clothing. Here are a few of my strategies for getting super cheap brand name clothes (for less than thrift store prices).
1. Shop Right After a Holiday
I seem to find the best deals right after a holiday, whether that be Christmas or even Halloween. This year I went to Baby Gap and Gymboree the day after Halloween, and I scored matching shirts for my daughters for $3-4 each, socks for $.49 each, and shoes for less than $4. The prices ended up being about 80% off the sticker price. At the thrift store, I can generally find shirts for $2-3, but if it were to have a tag on it, those nice thrift store employees mark it up a few dollars (insert eye roll here).
Most stores need to turn over inventory quickly at the end of a season or after a holiday. The day after Halloween seems to be a popular time for stores to get rid of fall fashions to make room for winter ones. Funny enough, all of the items I got are in season. Except for the pair of shoes, I can use now in the winter months.
2. Combine Coupons with Sales and Clearance
The best times to shop with are when the store offers an extra percentage off of already clearance prices. Both Baby Gap and Gymboree offered an extra 50% off of their clearance when I was there. This made $15 shirts priced all the way down to four dollars each. We could have saved even more if we had a coupon, or if we chose to sign up for a discount through the in-store credit card.
One time I successfully did this was when my husband found a nice Marc Anthony leather jacket on clearance at Kohl’s. It was marked down from $180 to $40. Then I used a 30% off and a $10 off $30 coupon to get the price even lower. Score!
3. Go in with Low Expectations
You never know what you’re going to find, so it is best to go in with low expectations. Every time I find the best deals on new clothing, I usually stumble upon them by accident. I keep a running list of what we need and don’t expect to tackle the list all in one go. For example, new tennis shoes for my preschooler have been on the list, but I refused to pay retail price for them. I never ended up finding a pair in my price range, so I just buy them off eBay. I don’t worry about not being able to fulfill my list since I can always find what I need through eBay as a last resort.
When I do come across a good deal, I try to buy what we need currently. If possible, I also buy what we will need for the following year. This is easier to do if your children follow a predictable growth pattern and if you live in a city that follows a predictable weather pattern. My preschooler grows very slowly and is easy to buy for, whereas my baby grows rapidly and our weather has been very strange this year due to the coming El Nino. Subsequently a lot of her clothes went untouched due to being the wrong size/season. Good thing I buy used or cheap, right?!
4. Shop Online
Many times I can score a better deal at online retail stores, because I can combine clearance items with online coupons and eBates cashback. If you spot a better price online, many stores might match their pricing too.
5. Don’t Forget to Ask
You can also always ask a sales associate when the next big sale is or when they will release coupons. Many are knowledgeable about upcoming sales and others will give you insider information about the best deals of the year if you simply ask.
As much as I love the thrift store and yard sales, I prefer to shop at the retail stores if I can find a new item cheaper. What about you?
Share your shopping success with me: what is the best deal you found at a retail store?
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