Thursday, September 26, 2013

Goodwill Hunting

In my first year as an SLP, I probably spent more money then I made.  My husband was very patient with this fact, but now that I have gotten a good arsenal of therapy supplies, I have been much more frugal with my own money.  Having read lots of posts about Goodwill finds, I decided this past spring to give it a try, and here are my results, as well as some tips for good bargain shopping at thrift stores.

My first attempt at thrift store shopping was a Salvation Army store at Litchfield Beach (near Pawley’s Island).  This store was more organized than most department stores.  It had separate rooms for clothing, furniture, household items, and designer clothing.  In the middle of the store was a rack with games, and I got two great ones. 
The first one was still sealed in the box:  Rush Hour, Junior. 

The second one was an older game called “Oh, Rats” where preschool and kindergarten students can spin to add pieces to build their puzzle containing cute pictures of active rats first. 

These were nice little finds in a decent selection of well-maintained games.  I have to guess that many people take games down with them, play them, and then donate them instead of lugging them back home.  I would suggest checking out stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army when you are vacationing in nice, resort-like areas.

However, my experience with Salvation Armys, and Goodwill stores in general, has not been as fruitful since (with the exception of a Goodwill store near my house that is located near several upper-class neighborhoods).  If you have not seen the picture Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News posted on Instagram from her local Goodwill, then let me say, I have never seen such a selection of games, and I am green with envy!  My local stores look nothing like the one in her picture.  Mine look more like a bomb has gone off and pieces and parts of games are available, but certainly not whole, intact resources.  I have been to five different Goodwills in two different states over a span of six months, and only the one by my house has ever had anything good, and then it was because I happened to hit it at just the right moment.

One Wednesday, following a tip from a Google Search of best days to hit thrift stores, I lucked in to five games-  all in working order with all the pieces included!  Here is what I got in one pop:   Whac-A-Mole, Aggravation, Piranha Attack, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, and HyperDash:
I paid eleven dollars for five games that would have cost me over eighty dollars if I ordered them from Amazon at that time!  

So is thrift shopping worth it?  I would say yes if you enjoy the hunt!  If you are like me, and get easily frustrated when you have in mind to accomplish a goal and that goal is at the mercy of good timing and good luck, then I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way.  With two active kids and a full-time job, I just don’t have extra time.  However, it is a fun thing to do in the summer when I have the luxury of time and much more patience.

My suggestions for how to be successful with thrift store shopping is to:

1)  Don’t expect to find anything.  You will be overjoyed if you do, and okay if you don’t because you didn’t have high expectations.

2)  Go to ones near affluent neighborhoods.  They seem to get more stuff that I would use in therapy.

3)  When on vacation, check out ones near resort areas that get items people do not want to lug back home.

4)  Go on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  There is heavy traffic on the weekends so items in the stores get picked over quickly.  Plus, more donations are made over the weekend and items get sorted and then stocked on shelves at the beginning of the week.

What goodies have you found in thrift stores?  What is your advice for savvy shoppers looking for great therapy materials?


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