How to Find Serious Back-to-School Savings at Your Local Thrift Shops

Save more this year by buying new-old clothes, backpacks, lunch bags, and more at your local thrift store.

Print Email

In preparation for going back to school and National Thrift Shop Day on August 17th, take advantage of amazing savings by getting all of your child’s school needs at your local thrift store. Parents are lucky in that retro styles have been making a comeback, so if you have a teen, they may enjoy rummaging through the racks and coming up with cute chic outfits.  Be sure to check all clothes and items closely to make sure they are not damaged, and try to shop by brands that you know and trust, if possible.  Though this guide is mainly geared towards children, college students can benefit even more from thrift stores in that you can furnish a dorm or apartment with everything you need, from furniture to kitchen appliances to wall art, all at the fraction of the price you would pay for new items. For the best steals and deals, shop under these categories:

Children’s Clothes: Children grow like weeds, so you can surely find clothes in any size you need at your local thrift shop, and you will likely have quite the selection.  Even though it is hard to think of pants and sweaters during the heat of August, you can get the best deals now on clothes for the fall and winter, and avoid the rush to that section since people won’t yet be thinking that far into the year.  Be sure to look for a size up from the size your child wears, since different brands fit differently, and they will also certainly grow a bit during the year.  It is also worth it to double check the clothes for stains, tears, and missing buttons so you don’t accidentally purchase something that you cannot use.

Accessories:  Belts, ties, and jewelry are all pretty expensive at retail stores, but incredibly cheap at thrift shops.  For belts, buy a size up as well to be ready for any growth spurts. 

Backpacks: If you need to update your child to a more age-appropriate or “cooler” backpack, swap your Dora the Explorer or Hello Kitty for Phineas and Ferb or Monster High. Many thrift stores have a variety of backpacks so they can change their backpack’s character, or upgrade to a more durable bag with more zippers and pockets for supplies. For high school students, you can look for a simpler backpack design that they can decorate themselves, or swap the backpack for a messenger bag.

Books:  Most children will have to read for a certain period each night, or conduct a book report on a novel read outside of school.  Load up your child’s bookshelf with novels for a dollar or less that are pre-read and maybe a bit dog-eared or bent.  Your child won’t mind, and they will be fascinated with the different editions of books or cool almanacs and encyclopedias that are often given to thrift stores.

Lunch Bags:  Lunch bags and boxes are bound to experience wear and tear after a year, so pick up a new one for cheap at your local thrift shop.  As an added bonus, thermoses often end up on the shelves, so pick one up for a dollar or two to have to send your kid to school with a warm lunch on a cold day.

Holidays:  Know that you may need some holiday things for your child, such as a Halloween costume?  It may seem early, but many parents have already jumped into the savings by purchasing a used new Halloween costume for their child.  They only wear the costume once, so why spend a fortune on it?