Clearance vs Thrifting

Target Clearance

I purchased a Groupon a while back to a local thrift/consignment store. I plan on visiting in a few weeks to see what kind of deals I can find. Until then, I continue to hit the Clearance racks. My theory is why thrifty when I can get brand-new clearance items cheaper than a thrift or consignment price?

The dress above was just $4. The running pants for our oldest son was around $3. The tank tops (for me) were just $2. The long-sleeve dri-fit shirts for the boys were only $6. I know I would NEVER find the clothes for our boys at a thrift store in our area and in like-new condition. And, buying them on clearance just makes more sense for me (and our budget).

I do think I could probably find a good deal on more items for me, and our home. When I go out, I plan to follow Bridgett's tips on thrifting to get a few good buys. I have seen so many cute things she purchased when thrifting and I'm amazed! Good thing she's coming with me when I go shopping! Until then, you will find me planted in the Clearance section at Target or Kohl's!

Have you had more success with shopping Clearance versus Thrifting?
Any opinions either way?


  1. Karen on June 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I am more comfortable in a thrift/consignment shop. Of course, I love digging for quality goods at bargain prices. Today at a consignment shop found a 1/2 off Columbia “Titanium” tank for $3 and a beautiful like new yellow dressy dress for my granddaughter in Toddler Size 4 for $6. Can’t find the dress by manufacturer online, but the Columbia tank would retail for $30. I just did a quick check of my closet and I estimate 70% is thrift/consignment items, rest is from department store sale or clearance racks.

  2. Sheri on June 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Love your site! You cover so much and it is very helpful. I especially love how you list closeouts and items that you found to be included in sales at Kroger and Meijer. Thank you, so much!!!!
    I moved to the Columbus, Ohio area almost two years ago. My boys have went thru 3 full sizes since then. If it wasn’t for thrifting, I don’t know what I would do. The Ohio Thrift Stores ( Nine in Columbus) have half off sales in the middle of the month and the last Wednesday of the month. I have to admit that it is hard to find brand new items for them, but many look like new (no kidding). Anyways, when I would shop in stores for the boys, alot of the clothes for pre-teen and teens have wholes in them and are made to look worn. My oldest (12) won’t wear clothes that even look new! When I looked for clothes for myself, I was stunned, more than once. Most of the items that I have found for myself did have tags on them for outrageous amounts. I once bought a designer dress with a tag for $3.50. I mostly find really cute shirts and sweaters. For what I save buying them at thrift stores, I can afford to buy my pants and Macy’s of Penney’s. You would be supprised at what you can find THRIFTING.
    Thanks, again, for all that you do!

  3. Emily on June 8, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    From my experience with thrift stores, there are good ones and bad ones. Some are full of faded clothes from the 80’s, while others have name brand clothes or clothes with tags still attached. When I see people find great clearance deals they are typically at wal mart or target, and are a bit plain for my taste. I’m picky about jeans and have never found jeans I like at walmart or target, where as I can almost always find aero AE or old navy jeans (those brands fit me real well) at goodwill for 4.99. I think clearance shopping is great for kids’ clothes though.

  4. Kelly on June 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I completely agree with your approach. While I love going to my local thrift store every couple of months, some of the deals on the clearance rack are too good to pass up. I once found a brand new Coach purse on clearance at Macy’s for $35 (it retails for $400). No way I would find it in that condition in a thrift store. I also have found several great deals on seasonal items while shopping clearance, and, if I can buy thrift or clearance for the same price – clearance wins each time. I’ll get more wear out of a brand new pair of $5 jeans than I will a $4 pair of thrift store jeans.

  5. Lisa on June 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I completely understand where you are coming from. And, I’m still trying to find a balance. Sometimes I’d MUCH rather get brand new items for a great price. It’s so fun to know something is fresh and new.

    But, then I think about what I’m perpetuating by continuing the cycle of more and more and more that I struggle with in the USA. We ask, Why get it used when you can have it new? instead of, Where do my used items really go? Why make it out of quality materials (like the “good ole days”) when it’ll just be replaced in a year or less because something newer is out? Ideally, I would buy used everything if I could get it in 1) great shape and 2) good quality. Obviously, that isn’t always realistic unless you have loads of time to scour second hand stores and if you come across the right items. And then … if you live in a county where the thrift stores sell things for equal or MORE for what you can buy it new on clearance … well, THAT’S annoying and just plain stupid!

    :-) I could probably explain much more, but that’s my 2 cents for now. Thanks for your question!

  6. Kristin Thompson on June 9, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    What you find in thrift stores, in my experience, depends on the area in which you live. In the more affluent areas, you’re more likely to find nicer items that are in better condition. Unfortunately that’s not been my experience more often than not, and I too have always been able to find better deals on clearance. This has always been the case with clothing, and for items for our home. Thrift stores tend to mark their items up so much because they have to pay workers typically with their sales plus most of the ones I’ve been to are charity stores like Goodwill where the rest of the proceeds are for charitable purposes. I have to say that I will continue to donate items to charity including clothing and home items, but I typically can’t find things for myself or family that’s affordable. Unfortunately, bigger stores are more financially able to mark prices down further. It makes more sense to buy children’s clothing new whenever possible at a cheaper price because of the wear and tear, plus the possibility of needing hand-me-downs for your future or other family’s children.

  7. Barbara on June 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve tried thrift shops over the years and have not found any great bargains. On the other hand, my husband seems to find great deals at the Goodwill stores. Personally, I prefer garage sales. I don’t have to pay the sales tax and the neighborhoods I shop in usually have brand new clothes. Now that my daughter is getting older and pickier, I have to take her shopping with me sometimes so I hit the clearance rack. Sometimes I visit the clearance rack twice a week because 30% off is still not low enough for me.

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on June 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Barbara, you know, I never even thought about the sales tax savings that shopping at garage sales allows! That is a good point!

  8. Denise on June 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I’m torn. When it comes to my daughter who will be born in September, so much of her wardrobe comes from the thrift store near me- I’m paying .25 to no more than $2. I’ve filled out the 0-3, 3-6 and am starting on 6-18 months now.

    I’m harder to fit and I will pay for new clothes as a result. Usually on sale, sometimes on clearance, but I just won’t find much from a thrift store to wear.

  9. christina on June 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I live in northern KY and my favorite thrift store is Village Discount Outlet in the Newport Shopping Center. I have found tons of great deals, but be prepared to have to dig for them…I think it’s fun though :-) I have found Abercrombie, American Eagle, Old Navy, Justice, Hollister, and Aero there. You can’t try anything on which stinks and you can’t return items. Every day of the week there are two different tags that are 50% off. On Mondays, there is a certain color tag that is just $.50. I found a pair of Old Navy cargo capri pants with the tags still on them for $.50! I will admit I have stopped shopping there & yard sales as often since the Bed Bug epidemic in Cincinnati started popping up on the news. I keep all the clothes tied in the bag and I bring them home and put them straight into the dryer and then I wash & dry them again.

  10. Colleen on June 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    OK. I had my first real “thrifting” shopping trip this weekend. First off, most of the clothes were at least 8 bucks, at the 2 stores I went to, they only take higher end or name brand clothes, but there were plenty of Target brands there for more than I would’ve paid on clearance. (Which is really the only way I ever shop for clothes). That said, they did have a ton of cute clothes, in great brands I would never pay full price for, so I felt OK buying a Banana Republic top for $5. BUT! I grabbed a shirt with a $3 tag that had never been worn–score! Until I got home and realized I had been charged $8–fail. Why? Because the dang store also had it tagged @ $8! They priced it higher then what the person had originally purchased it for! SOO, I will be staying true to my clearance shopping ways…

  11. Jenny on June 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I love both. For me, I have a daughter who would wear nothing but dresses. The fancier, the better. I wait until the big chain of thrift stores in the area run 99 cents children’s clothing and stock up. I don’t stress it if she plays outside in those dresses. It’s a win/win! At the last sale, I picked up shorts and short sleeve shirts for all 4 of my kids. I stocked up on those, got 2 pairs of shoes for one daughter, a couple of swim suits for my son and a cool purse for myself – all for $65. In addition, I got a nice like new Timberlake long sleeve shirt for my son and a Ralph Lauren dress for my daughter for the fall. I am a scavenger so I’m willing to spend hours scoping out the best deals anywhere I go!

  12. Camille on February 22, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Love the clearance rack deals. We call it Spaving (spending to save). Found some great deals at Kohl’s this week.

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