Thrift shopping in Tacoma, Washington

Thrift shops in Tacoma, Washington

Last week, I went thrift shopping with my friend Mandi. You know, the Mandi from Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporioum. Earlier this year, Mandi and I visited the Goodwill outlet in Seattle for the first time. It was an experience! (Don't miss this post for tips on how to shop Goodwill Outlet for the first time!) I may or may not have gotten spoken to {in a loud voice} about following the rules of the Outlet and been threatened by the Goodwill security. Since hearing that they opened a Goodwill outlet a little closer to home in Tacoma, we decided we were going to go together to see how they compared.
It took us about 6 months to schedule a day that worked for both of us. Yikes! Mandi needed to fill her shop, and I needed to find some bargains.

Here are a few of the Tacoma, Washington area places we shopped at.

Thrift Shopping in Tacoma, Washington

thrift stores tacoma washington

What is a thrift store?

A thrift shop generally sells donated or second-hand articles of new and used clothing, electronics, household goods, and more at a fraction of the price. They are often run as a charity and give money back to the community, so you are doing good by shopping at thrift stores not only by reusing items but by helping out charitable organizations.

Start here: Is Goodwill Too Expensive?

Deseret Industries in Federal Way

Update: This Federal Way, WA Deseret location is no longer there (thank you Link Light Rail). There is a Deseret location in Puyallup at 16014 Meridian Ave E.

While I can't say I have found the best finds at the store, I really haven't given it a fair chance.
I think if you are going to be serious about thrifting, you need to go to a store multiple times a week to find the good stuff.   People tell me all the time that they never find anything good at garage sales, but if you only go to one garage sale on a Saturday, you aren't going to find the good stuff that I find by going to 20 garage sales.
I digress...

Deseret is less expensive than my local Goodwill and has similar donated merchandise. The clothing prices confuse me and the powers that be that make up the prices seem a bit confused on the quality of brands.  The Wal-Mart brands seem to be priced higher than some of the "better" brands.  
Some of the clothes on the racks make me shake my head because I'm not sure who would buy the out-of-date 90's romper or the t-shirt with the armpit stains and name inscribed on the back.
To each his own though. 

The household items and furniture are worth taking a look at because the price is right most of the time.

Our next stop was the 
Tacoma ReStore

I've been in a few Habitat for Humanity ReStores and haven't been impressed, however, this Tacoma location was one of the better stores I have been in. The furniture prices were expensive {that large hutch was over $2,000} but there were some good finds to be had.  Mandi picked up a huge antique mirror for $25.  And if you are looking for building supplies for a small area, and you aren't too picky, the ReStore is a good place to start.

We made our way to the 
Goodwill Outlet
just down the road from the ReStore.

Compared to the Seattle location, this Goodwill outlet seemed to have fewer vintage finds. However, the shoes were rubber banded together {easier to find a match} and the clothes seemed to be in better condition {no crotch holes}.

There were similar rules {and I was told more than once that the Goodwill employees had the right to kick me out and ban me from the store for up to a year if I didn't follow them} and just as many regulars.

One guy I chatted up was recovering from an injury at work and he said that he stopped in a few times a DAY to shop for bargains.  He said he mostly gets things to take with him to Mexico to resell.  

I found that this Tacoma location had better prices than the Seattle location.

Vintage Clothing at Thrift Shops in Tacoma

Best Thrift Shop for Vintage T-Shirts

Update 2022: The Tacoma Goodwill Outlet is the winner if you are looking for vintage clothing. You do have to dig, but every single time I'm at this location, I'll see buyers who are selling at their hip vintage shops or online. You could score some really cool vintage band t's or vintage dresses and clothing and remember, you pay by the pound, so you can really score!

If you have never shopped at Goodwill Outlet before, check out this post first! 

What About Value Village?

I do love Value Village. I didn't use to. It used to be more expensive, but as clothing prices have gone up, it's still a bargain to shop at Value Village (or other thrift shops) as opposed to in a retail store or online. I have tried a few Value Village locations in the area and unfortunately, Tacoma doesn't have my favorite location. My favorite Value Village location is in Sammamish, WA. Though a close second is the Southcenter location. 

Final stop
Bargain World

I've driven past this store about 100 times and never stopped in. Bargain World gets mixed reviews on Yelp, some people swear by the great finds they get {Joe's jeans for $10} while others think of it as a ghetto Goodwill...and that's saying something! I was unimpressed.

What always makes me wonder is why these creepy clowns are priced at $15.95

and this tufted headboard is only $5.95? The stock seemed low and the prices for most of the items seemed too high.

Updated 2022! 

I'm still an avid thrift store shopper and more of a regular at the Tacoma Goodwill Outlet. It is still one of my favorites. 

After the pandemic, many thrift stores stopped carrying some of my favorite items. I used to be able to buy furniture for next to nothing at Goodwill and now our Goodwill no longer sells furniture, so I've found a few new favorites.

Best Thrift Shop for Furniture

I've also added St. Vincent de Paul to my occasional Tacoma rotation (4009 S. 56th). Don't bother shopping inside the store. The outside area is where it's at. I picked up a solid oak antique table for $4.99. They had a coupon for joining the text club and I saved $3, so the table I refinished and sold for $300 cost me $2.99.

The outdoor area is where the deals are. It's like shopping in your grandma's attic for treasures. You never know what you are going to find.

I'd also recommend Hope Furnishings in Tacoma (117 Puyallup Ave.). You'll find new and used furniture at a fraction of the price, often donated by local furniture stores or even purchased to support the NW Furniture Bank that is run out of the warehouse downstairs. They provide furniture to families coming out of homelessness, young adults aging out of the foster system and those individuals escaping domestic violence situations to name a few. 

Thrift Shopping on a Saturday

I have mixed feelings about weekend thrifting. While I understand many people have more availability on the weekends, shops are usually overwhelmed with shoppers and donations and are slower to roll out "new" items. I prefer thrift shopping on the weekdays, but that's just me!

If I had a gun to my head and could only pick one thrift store in Tacoma to go to for the rest of my life, it would be the Goodwill Outlet.

The cheap prices and good quality merchandise I walked out with make it worth a stop another day.
I'm still not a willing thrift store shopper.  

I love my garage sales. But if I get the itch for a deal, I know where to go. What are your favorite thrift stores?

Maybe I can be converted.

1 comment

Jaclyn R. said...

I live in the suburbs of Michigan and I have only ever seen The Salvation Army thrift stores around me. Since I'm a high school student and don't have much money, I love thrifting but I wish I could find more variety!

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