Top 10 Things I Hate About Thrift Stores

So this blog is generally about how much I love thrift stores, junkin, and photos of the stuff we find. However, there are some aspects about thrifting that bug the crap out of me. You knew this was coming sooner or later. So I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list with some examples of each. Feel free to comment or email me with any  that I may have overlooked. This list is an organic and growing thing. I’ll repost an updated version in a year or so and we’ll see what’s been added. It’ll  be fun. Help me out here!

1.) Drafters or “Clingons”

These are the people that use YOU as their browsing tool. This is a rare occurrence at a thrift shop but you’ve probably encountered one of these bastards at a record store or garage sale. They’ll lurk about a foot behind you in order to let you do their flipping or perusing of the rack of items. The simplest way (at least in the Midwest) is to give a courtesy glance over the shoulder just once. To let the drafter know you know what they’re doing and you don’t appreciate it. If the problem persists try a reversal technique and creep them out OR a simple “Backthefuckup” usually will get the point across. Don’t be a Clingon folks.

2.) Goo Goo Dolls (or similar) Music

This is a serious problem. I don’t hate their music, but I don’t exactly love it either. Somehow there seems to always be a Goo Goo Dolls song on in every thrift store I’ve ever patronized. That shit gets stuck in your head for hours if not days. Is there some “ALL GOO GOO DOLLS ALL THE TIME! on RADIO GOO 104!” station that I don’t know about? To all the thrift store owners – change the station, because your employees are about to revolt.

3.) Intimates or Underwear

We’ve all seen it so this one is pretty much self-explanatory. The tighty-whiteys on the wire clip hanger. I don’t know who is buying these or why stores really even bother to sell them. If they’re in the package fine, but I’m still not buying them. How much is a packet of new underwear anyways? It can’t be THAT much more expensive to rest assured knowing that your drawers didn’t touch some other persons naynay or heehee, right? CAN I GET AN AMEN!

4.) Mis-categorization of Goods

Put that stuff where it belongs – or at least try.  Everything can be categorized and everything should be in the section that makes the most logical sense. You should know this unless you never had a mom.

5.) Helter-Skelter Stores

I love a good hunt as much as the next guy, but some stores are so helter-skelter that your eyes hurt after a few minutes of looking, because its so much to take in. I shouldn’t have to pass through an aisle 4-5 times just to feel like I’ve perused it comfortably enough to move one to the next one. These are usually the stores that do a ton of volume per day. Loosely clumped zones of semi-similar items works the best.

6.) Inconsistent pricing

This shit just kills me. Sometimes identical items will be side by side on the shelf and one will be insanely higher priced. It’s also why I don’t frequent certain stores as much as I’d like to. There is an upside to this in that most stores will let you have the item you want for the lower or same price should you want both. If not, just peel the tag off of something else and stick it onto the item you want. Ethical? No. But neither is paying $4.99 for a blank t-shirt because Margie hadn’t had her coffee and half a pack of Misty Slims yet.

7.) Overly Organized Stores

These stores remove all element of hunt and search, which is a major factor in why I love to thrift. If  a store is too organized it gives the impression that nothing will be a bargain or mislabeled  and that’s going to  make me leave ASAP.

8.) People haggling for hangers, or haggling in general.

It’s a thrift store. Pretty much nothing over $10. Don’t be that guy.

9.) Fitting Rooms.

These are usually an afterthought by employees. People understandably leave garments they don’t want in there (I’m guilty of it) and sometimes they can build up. Oh yea, and Jess said she saw human poop once on the floor of one. Just sayin.

10.) Missing objects.

This one ranked high in the furious category with the ladies. Nothing worse than finding 1 great shoe with no match or a puzzle or game with a missing piece. It has to be all or nothing, no gray zone. My personal suggestion is to just have an employee dedicated to checking them as best they can. Google the game’s name and you can usually find out  the instructions which list the number of pieces and stuff that’s supposed to be included in the box. Then just  rubberband/tape them and assure the people that they’re all there or they can have their money back. Simple as that.

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21 responses to “Top 10 Things I Hate About Thrift Stores

  1. Now that I’ve composed myself, I thought I’d leave a note to let you know that this has got to be the most hilarious post I’ve ever read! Halfway down the list, I found I could not stop my laughter! I think I’ve found my new MOST FAVORITE Blog!! Love it! Thanks, Colleen.

  2. I think pricing is my biggest issue. Besides the inconsistency, thrift stores that think they are actually an antique or collectible store and price accordingly. I mean really, they got the item for FREE, it really isn’t necessary to over-price what they believe to be valuable.

    I agree with your comments about miscatagorization. I purchased an end table. Four legs. Flat top, shelf midway down. It was even displayed with a lamp on it. When I went to pay for it, I expected to receive 25% off as was advertised for all furniture. Apparently, my item had the incorrect color tag which meant I was purchasing a four-legged, sofa height, two shelved KNICK KNACK. Unfortunately, I had already fallen in love with it and purchased it anyway.

    I have not purchased anything from that store since that experience.

  3. Overpricing is a big pet peeve of mine. I especially hate when you go into a store and they have a huge boatload of stuff from the dollar store and they try to charge 2 or 3 dollars for that crap. Really? I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

    I also hate when they feel it is necessary to tape lids, boxes, furniture and whatever else they see fit with packing tape. That crap sticks to everything. It seriously sucks when you try to take that stuff off and the paint or gold leaf comes off of whatever they have taped up with it. Put the packing tape down and back away…..

  4. Without a doubt, your most hilarious blog post ever.

    I’ll add some other pet peeves:
    1. People who leave their cart in the middle of the aisle instead of tucking it to the side.
    2. Grown men hanging out in the toy aisle looking at the toy trucks. Totally skeeves me.

  5. worst thrift store in mpls:
    the garage sale: thrift store, in Hopkins.
    it sounds awesome, but:

    +the worst organization ever, a lot of things are just on the floor

    +i dropped a car load of stuff off there, told him i’d like some help since my arm was injured, and the worker was super annoyed to help me, was too busy on his cell phone

    +told me he was out of tax ded. receipts til i asked him a little harder…really?

  6. Oh man, the drafters are the worst! I’ve had to verbally address people stealing stuff out of my cart within milliseconds of placing something there.

    Unattended children.
    Toys left all over the rigging store.
    Groups of college kids yelling “oh my god, guys!this is so embarassing!” laughing and giggling and holding up non-remarkable items for their friends to bray about. These aisle-cloggers are particularly prevalent during the pre-Halloween.

  7. I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ll add my 2 cents…
    Things I hate about Thriftstores (& I love thrifting!)
    1) Kids screaming, crawling and crying all over the store…some sans parents
    2) When the thrift store prices an item higher than the attached price tag! Nothing like a thrift store selling a Target shirt originally priced and tagged at $6.99 for $12.99 (I live in the Bay Area. This happens. A lot).
    3) People stealing your cart. Annoying.
    4) No price tag. And the salesperson refusing to sell to you.
    5) Items I have donated being sold at WAY more than I paid for them.
    6) Finding the perfect item that I have been looking for, for months. In the arms of another thrifter. At the checkout counter.

  8. “The tighty-whiteys on the wire clip hanger. I don’t know who is buying these or why stores really even bother to sell them.” This made me laugh! Alot. But yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Not too sure why people would buy used underwear…..

    I have a Thrifting blog too. Check it out 🙂

  9. Totally funny post, what a fab idea for us dedicated thrifters to rant about what we hate about thrifting!

    I’d add the following:

    1). The thrift store SMELL. What the hell is it? Not quite B.O, not quite poopy. Odd but consistent wherever you go. My fave thrift shop has installed little electronic air freshners that dispense a zoot of chemical flowers every five minutes or so. Neat eh?

    2). A close postscript – dust. It’s just always there, even in a somewhat clean store. I know I’ve hit my thrifting threshold when I start sneezing. (I’m allergic, to dust that is, never to thrifting!).

    3). In the larger thrift type stores like Value Village (Savers in the US), people who commandeer the aisle with their carts – in fact people like your Darfters who have no sense of personal space and who don’t respect others’ personal space. The woman who pushes a whole rack of dresses to the side just so she can see one dress, when YOU happen to be right beside her carefully flipping through the same rack! – she’s the absolute worst offender. Then again, she’s not a species that is particularly endemic to thrift stores ….

    4). Now that I think of it, how logical are thrift stores? The larger ones give you humongous carts to pile all your crap in, then they have signs on the changerooms that stipulate you can only bring in 3-5 pieces at a time – is this a loss prevention technique (NOT! See below!)? Basically the sign means nothing as people can pile their carts full of stuff and spend 5 hours in the changeroom during peak hours trying everything on … and doing lord knows what else …. (hence your poop story? Wowsers!).

    5). Which leads me to this: I hate going into thrift shop changerooms and seeing tags stuffed in behind the mirror or into other crevices. Who are the losers who are ripping off the thrift store? For shame.

    6). I agree on the pricing thing, though generally I find too many great scores for this to be a real issue. But one thing about Goodwill pisses me off: nothing except for the boutique stuff is individually priced, which means blazers are “$6.99 and up,” according to the sign, and so on. So who determines when an item falls under the “and up” part? This is left to the whim of the particular cashier. It’s happened to me – one ‘blazer’ was rung in at $8.99. Why was it not $6.99? Goodwill supports so many social programs I didn’t make a big deal about it, but I almost laughed in a cashier’s face the other day when she told a woman that a nylon jacket was categorized as a ‘winter’ coat (at $18.99). It was just ridiculous.

    Whew, thanks! This has been fun! Think I may copy my response and do a post on this topic tomorrow with a link to your site (you’re on my blogroll anyway)!! That felt good!


  10. i’ll give ya an AMEN for #3

  11. If I’m looking over your shoulder as you’re flipping through the records, it means you’re taking too long! My pet peeve is people who study the liner notes of every record as if they were trying to crack the Da Vinci code. Just buy the damn record already and move on.

  12. I would like to second the commenter who mentioned the packing tape on the lids. I saw an adorable set of cheap decorative wood-ish boxes that would have been *perfect* for my mother… very flimsy oval nesting boxes, with lids that had some art on them. What did the smart Goodwill employees do? TAPE THE LIDS TO ALL THREE BOXES. With packing tape. Not only did it pull the art off the top, it actually started to rip the wood apart. Luckily, I tried doing this in the store, and refrained from purchasing. Geez guys!!

    I also will have to agree with that smell, that awful smell. It’s like the mixture of everyone’s old house/furniture smell/B.O. smell/air freshener/dryer sheet/detergent/deodorant all mixed together, and it ain’t good!

  13. As a store manager for a larger thrift store chain, my answer to most of these: We employ people for minimum wage. perfect training takes a long time, turn over is very high, and there are very few managers. We know the problems, and the good managers try very hard to fix them all. Bear with us, we are over work, thrift store customers can be very trying, and well, we are for-charity so we are not paid too hot. Bear with us….please!

  14. Definitely feel you on this list! I will never understand why they sell underwear at thrift stores. Soo disgusting!

    And the inconsistent pricing gets me too. I think the sudden popularity of thrift store shopping has contributed to a rise in prices, but its still ridiculous and unfair.

  15. I love this blog, but it’s IMMENSELY obvious from the post and the comments that no one here has ever actually WORKED FOR a thrift store. Not a “vintage” store, there’s a BIG difference!!!! I’ve worked for both “vintage” and “thrift” stores, and the MAJOR difference is that A LOT of THRIFT stores are NON-PROFIT organizations. This does mean the store has had all of their stock DONATED to them for free, yes. BUT consider now, the FACT that the proceeds from the sale of these items has to cover NOT ONLY the operating costs of the store itself(and there are MANY costs) it ALSO has to be priced high enough to A: not insult the item’s donors, who undoubtedly also SHOP there too, and more importantly, B: the sale price on these donated items has to bring in the money to RUN THE CHARITY ORGANIZATION THAT THE STORE IS THERE TO SUPPORT!!!! Folks who love to shop at thrift stores often forget that many of them are there specifically to make the money that runs small, independent, human-service providers. These store’s sole purpose for existing is NOT to ensure you the absolute lowest price on everything. I’m sorry, but it’s not.
    The cost of that vintage, mint condition, Charlie Brown lunch box sitting behind the counter may seem unfair to you, but remember that the store’s employee’s may not be well paid(or EVEN paid! we have volunteer workers sometimes, who have their OWN ideas about how items should be priced!), they may have to wait on the exact person who donated it who INSISTS it’s worth a fortune, and most importantly, ALL the items have to be priced low enough to sell, but HIGH enough to keep NOT ONLY the store running, but ALSO the free counseling service, the soup kitchen, the women’s shelter, the youth mentoring program, or the prescription medication assistance program running, as well. Whatever CHARITY the thrift store uses in it’s name(even if it just doesn’t occur to you, the shopper) is the NON-PROFIT CARE OR ASSISTANCE PROVIDER OF LAST RESORT that your purchases and donations are funding.
    And the thrift store socks & underwear you can’t imagine anyone ever purchasing? They sell like HOTCAKES to the homeless, elderly, disabled, under/unemployed, and those who have been unexpectedly left with literally nothing after fire’s, robbery, eviction, and any number of other situations you can only dream of once they’ve happened to you or someone you know.
    So the next time you feel like getting all uppity because a thrift store has some inconsistent pricing you don’t understand, or doesn’t organize itself to your liking, PLEASE try to remember, or find out about where you are. Are you in a FOR-PROFIT, stand-alone type resale store? Or are you in a CHARITY, NON-PROFIT THRIFT STORE?

  16. To all of you who can’t figure-out why a store won’t sell YOU something that YOU want that MYSTERIOUSLY has no price tag???? Freaking DDDUUUHHH!!! EVERY @$$#0]& who wants something CHEAPER just picks the damn sticker off, or rips off the tag and tries to get it re-priced lower!!!!!! Go look it up, it’s legally considered shoplifting. Just because YOU think it’s an unfairly priced, inconsequential item DOES NOT make it OK! And if YOU truly were NOT the one that removed the price but you want it, I’m really sorry but that’s STILL TOO BAD!!! We CAN NOT be fooling around trying to figure out which of you monkeys is honest and telling the truth!!! YOU seem to want this unpriced item pretty badly, so WE now have every right to be suspicious and go have a look into it’s ACTUAL value WITHOUT YOUR input!!! THEN WE have every right to put OUR chosen price back on the item, and try again to sell it, hopefully this time to an HONEST customer!!!! If you find items in the store with no price, PLEASE just nicely return them to someone that works there, WITHOUT expecting to get that item. That’s just how things work in resale stores, folks, get over it!!!!

  17. My sister and I regularly peruse the thrift stores. This is my first stop on your blog. AMEN to the undies. I will admit that I have haggled, but only because the 9-month old pants were like $3! That had to be a mistake. I also hate clingons. Sometimes when I’m trying on stuff in front of a mirror, people will try to take my picks off of the rack. Hello, I’m standing right next to them. See me trying them on? I also frequently violate Goodwill’s item quota in dressing rooms. 3 items? Give me a break.

  18. I love when they write the price of the item with PERMANENT marker right onto the item! 🙂

  19. Your blog is awesome!

  20. i worked at a supposedly “non profit” thrift store in the mid 90’s and i can tell you that that’s a sweet little racket. my boss was supposed to donate ten percent of her daily take the local humane society. i was the cashier and each day, i ran the register total for a complete printout of the day’s “take.” then i took that and the money and gave it to her. that means there are only two witnesses to the total. put simply: the amount she gave the charity wasn’t even close to ten percent. i know this also happens at several other thrift stores where i live. that “non profit” nonsense is a big fat lie.

  21. Pricing is for sure my number 1 complaint. I like to buy bikes and I’ve seen the same thrift store price the exact same model of bike for $20 one week and $150 the next. Furniture I find almost always over priced, I’d like to get into restoring/reworking old furniture but it’s a rare day that a beat up solid wood piece can be had for it’s actual value. I love the stores that have set prices for everything, like hardcover book $2 softcover $1 t-shirt $3. Love your blog!

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