How to Tell The Difference Between Consignment and Thrift Stores

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Knowing consignment versus thrift stores engenders more targeted shopping.
Knowing consignment versus thrift stores engenders more targeted shopping. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The difference between consignment shops and thrift stores is sometimes tricky; consequently, many do not understand the difference. Knowing precisely how the two differ will give you more direction on how to better strategize your shopping and maximize your time.

Similar to regular retail stores, consignment shops handpick the items to stock. If you want to place items, you are asked to make an appointment and are generally limited on the number of items you can bring. Consignment shops will both pay you for gently-used items as well as give you a tax credit for your donations. Consignment stores generally have one or two target audiences, such as babies and children, ladies or furniture and home decor. If managed well, consignment shops can be lovely to visit and shop for quality, recycled items either new or never used.

Thrift store items are subjected to far less scrutiny because they are strictly donated; thus, you will find everything from clothing, accessories and dishes to baking utensils, books, games, furniture and more. Thrift stores often contain some treasures but the experience is overwhelming for some because the sites are overloaded and somewhat disorderly at times.

Thrift stores are often launched to help with a charity or nonprofit organization. Prices are often very good, but remember, the quality of the item you purchase may not be as good or as long-lived as purchasing it new or from a consignment store. Thrift stores will have a set price for most items. For example, all men's pants might be $3.99, while all books are $1. Items are not priced based on retail cost or brand labels. This can be wonderful if you are retail savvy and understand the costs of various brands, labels or styles. You can find good deals at thrift stores and your money spent will go on to help others in a time of need.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask around for a referral on a great shop near you!
  • GO GREEN, SHOP GREEN!
  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE and EARN, EARN, EARN!

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