Thrift and Tennis: Exploring the Skill of Thrift Shopping

Image by The Library of Congress

Image by The Library of Congress

Some quick clarification here, I wrote this article a few weeks ago but for a few reasons I haven’t posted it till now. It is now April, not March.

March is here and spring has come…at least for some parts of the world. Where I live however, spring is only teasing. The temperature drops and rises like the Sun each day and my spring fever is getting the best of me. This past weekend, I was so anxious I was bouncing off the walls. I had to get out so I voiced my intentions of getting out of the house to my wife and we started getting ready. I had decided I wanted to take advantage of one of the benefits of living where I do and hit one of the many close by thrift stores for used sporting supplies.

I was looking for baseball equipment but what I ended up buying were a few tennis racquetes. I had played tennis a few times and enjoyed it at the time. Given it was a few years back and I was in better shape then but I decided those were what I was going to purchase and we would head out and find a place to play. The racqutes cost about $2 and change for each one and I purchased 3, one for my wife and myself and one small one for my daughter. To tell you the truth, the racquetes could have been for just about any sport with a racquet and a ball, but what do I care, $8 for all three can’t be beat.

So my wife, daughter and I headed out and found a nearby park that had a couple tennis courts. They were occupied so we ended up playing tennis on the basketball courts which apparently is more exercise than I thought as I have been sore for the past three days.

To get to the point, all this got me thinking about the great bargain we got and all the fun we had and plan to have with this super cheap, somewhat antiquated equipment (to stress this, I actually saw one of the exact same racquetes that we bought…nailed up to the wall of a restaurant to create a vintage sporty look). Taking advantage of thrift stores and online classifieds is a great practice and I wanted to give some tips about how to locate a place to shop and how to pick out the deals.

Locating a Thrift Store

There are a few different kinds of thrift stores. There are online thrift stores that one can purchase items from directly, one in particular being eBay. I won’t go into the mechanics of eBay too much but I would define it as a thrift store and deals can be found there. Another pretty big thrift store is Craigslist. My favorite way of using Craigslist is actually by using a free online service called Adravage.

Adravage allows one to sign up for free and set up automatic searches that will search Craigslist based on those queries and send the results to one’s email account on a schedule specified such as by the minute, hour or day.

So we covered the big guys. The previous two online thrift stores are pretty well known and well used. Adravage ads a layer to Craigslist that circumvents it’s horrible interface. Now lets get to the local guys.

In Utah, a local news station has created a free classifieds area on their website that anyone can create listings to sell just about anything and people can browse local listings to buy things. This is very similar to Craigslist but its on a much smaller, local scale. The idea has really taken hold here in Utah and there are over 100,000 listings currently.

I did a quick Google search for something similar in different areas such as New York and Arizona and found similar local classifieds in both areas. I am confident that there is something like that just about anywhere in the nation.

There are also brickĀ  and mortar thrift stores strewn across the nation. Two bigger chains are Savers and The Deseret Industries that can be located through these links.

Evaluating The Deal

One thing to think about when shopping at a thrift store is that used merchandise may be cheaper but it is used and may not last as long as new merchandise.

So before shopping at a thrift store, check out the local or chain stores to see what the price of the particular thing you are shopping for would cost new. If the cost of a new tennis racquete were $5, (and I were confident I would be playing tennis more than that one day) I would not have spent $2.50 on a used racquete that may not last very long or would require restringing or other maintenance which would outweigh the savings of $2.50 that would have been spent on a new racquete.

The phrase “they dont make things like they used to” does hold solid in some cases such as when looking for the vintage look in decorations or seeking that nastalgiac feeling of something from one’s past but when searching for something more practical that will actually see more use than just as a decorative piece, be sure to check what new would cost.

In things used on a daily basis, there have been significant improvements in the technology even within the last few years, and the price of the technology has decreased significantly so be sure to take advantage of that.

Poorer Than You

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