The Bargain Huntress

The Goodwill outfit I wore to The Outcast signing at the Southern Festival of Books: wool Ann Taylor dress and fringed Antonio Melani calfskin boots.

I remember, at fourteen, running full tilt in between our van and the front door of the Goodwill, lest anyone from my private school should spot me and know from whence most of my wardrobe came. Now, sixteen years later, I couldn’t care less who knows that I’m a thrift store shopper. This morning, I set my alarm for 6 a.m., which is what I usually set it for, but I don’t usually bolt out of bed like I did today.


I arrived five minutes after Goodwill opened their doors, but the place was already teeming with customers. Though my goal was baby clothes, I couldn’t resist checking out the women’s shoes first, scoring a pair of Franco Sarto black leather sandals for $3 (sorry, Baby Girl; you might be nekked for the first year of your life, but Mom’s gonna be stylin’!).

There are a few things you should know before you join me in the bargain hunt:

I am an aggressive shopper. Thrift stores aren’t always filled with the most mannerly (or clean) people, and I’ve decided that if I can’t beat ’em, I’ll join ’em. Therefore, the Jolina you see at a Goodwill’s 50% off Saturday is not the same

The Goodwill outfit I wore to The Alliance signing: Ann Taylor dress, Old Navy sweater, and Gianni Bini leather sandals.

Jolina you might see at a book signing. I have been known to turn my cart parallel to the rack of clothing I’m interested in perusing, since people will get right up in your grill to check out whatever blouse you’re ogling.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Last night, I asked my sister-in-law if she wanted picked up on my way into town, since she was going to look for summer clothes for her kids, too. She gave me a wry smile and said, “You like to stay a little longer than I do.” It’s true. I was at Goodwill at 7:05 (one of my favorite coffee shops is on the way), and I didn’t leave until 9:50. I was sorting through clothing that entire time. By the end, my cart was heaped with Children’s Place, Gymboree, Gap, The Limited (now vintage, since they closed their stores in January), Carter’s, Old Navy, Ann Taylor Loft and countless other brands for about $1 or $2 each. But, be warned, you’ve got to dig past the junk, and you’re going to want to bathe yourself in hand sanitizer by the time you leave.

No bargain left behind! My book club and I once met at Goodwill for the 50% off Saturday. My girlfriends just watched in mock horror as I barreled my cart up and down the aisles, pulling sweaters off racks and dumping them in my cart, but in their carts, too. My favorite pair of WhiteHouseBlackMarket heels came from that trip (I have worn them to many different book signings), but I doubt my girlfriends still have the items I made them buy. Hey, bargains like those couldn’t be left behind! 😉

Bargain shopping is in my genes. My grandmother Charlotte had nine children, and money was always tight, so she purchased most of their clothing at thrift sales. My mom still talks about how Grandma Charlotte would wash and starch the items, making them look like new before her children wore the outfits to church. Most of my clothing, growing up, came

The Goodwill outfit I wore to The Midwife signing (I was pregnant with Baby Girl #2): crinkled Express dress, gold Old Navy cardigan, strappy Copper Key sandals (not sure if Copper Key still exists).

from thrift stores as well, and my mom slowly but surely taught me the art of the hunt. We still enjoy thrift store shopping together, but I’ve made a rule that if something comes home, something must leave. When I returned from town today, I went to my closet and culled about a dozen items from the rack. Which I’m going to give to Goodwill. Seems like they’ve got quite the system going on there, doesn’t it? 😉

Are you a bargain shopper, or are you a minimalist who pays full price for a few essential items you really like?


Jolina is a wife, mama, daughter, friend, and oftentimes stubborn child of God who loves dramatic soundtracks, old books, new places, abandoned trails, people-watching, telling stories, pulling weeds, and petting chickens. She's glad you're here.

10 thoughts on “The Bargain Huntress

  1. Ha! If not for the time difference, we’d have probably bumped into one another! I got there at 8:05 and left at 10 something! Sooo fun. Found a couple like-new hardback books, Rivers and Pella, (plus a huge stack for the littles), a Converse (yes, like the shoes) button-up shirt (sooo cute), and two pairs of AE shoes, plus…oh well, I won’t bore you. No Ann Taylor finds today, but it has happened.

    Dontcha hate that feeling at the checkout when you feel the person behind you eyeballing you for your Goodwill gluttony? It’s not till I go back through everything and realize how very little it all cost that I can breathe again. Ah well, that’s me, a recovering introvert. An extrovert on half-price day – now that must be an adventure! 🙂

    PS – You’ve always been a savvy shopper. I still remember this tailored Gap jumper you found for, like, $3 one time! You don’t know how I’ve fruitlessly searched for a clone of it. Sooo cute. Was THAT a Goodwill find? I always thought it was from the mall!

    1. Too funny! I went to the Goodwill here in the Upper Cumberland area, but Misty loves the one in Springfield. 🙂 I remember that Gap jumper very well! I did buy it at the mall with Kelly Burke, and I got stuck while trying on a smaller version (they were the only ones on sale). She had to pull and pull to get it off of me, and I really thought the Gap people would have to use a scissors. By the end, we were crying from laughing so hard. I wish I still had that jumper, though it definitely wouldn’t fit my belly right now! 😉

  2. I got a NEW Small clutch purse in Pewter with some beading on it for $1.69 at Good Will, ( still had the name brand tag price Tag inside) .. I used it to carry my camera to my son’s wedding. I got a Wool Sweater with Name brand Eddie Bauer Tag for $3.00 (New ) – I saw in store the same sweater on sale for $50. so Yes I am a Thrift Store and Yard Sale Shopper… Oh Yes Got my son American Eagle Shorts that were new for $1.50.. One of my first Leather Purses was only 25 cents at a Yard sale, ( new ) and my second leather new one cost me a little more- It was larger and it cost 50 cents.. The latest purse I got was from Fossil ( they are numbered ) it was new and I got it for $1.00. I have carried it for 2 years, and I will be purse shopping this summer at the ” Yard Sales etc ” ! !

  3. I love thrift shopping! Besides Goodwill, we have (close to our house!) a ThriftSmart, a store whose sales supports three or four charity projects (the Belize Project and Mercy Community Healthcare among them). I don’t buy a lot but I’ve found outstanding values there when I take the time to look! There’s a certain satisfaction in re-using or re-purposing that I just don’t get anywhere else!

    1. I agree with the re-using and re-purposing, Diana. I had no clue that’s what we were doing when we’d thrift store shop as kids. 😉

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