August 5, 2015

Back-to-school clothes shopping at Goodwill! GAP, US Polo Assn, Gymboree


Originally posted in July 2014 – this article still rings true for how I do most of my kids clothes shopping – for back-to-school or just to keep them clothed through the seasons. 

Seems like school JUST got out. but I’m already strategically thinking about back-to-school clothes and how I can save the most on dressing my kids!  In my experience, no matter how incredible the sales are at big box clothing stores – even after coupons – I often save much more on back-to-school clothes by shopping secondhand.

I did this last summer and shared the photos here. I just love finding brand-name clothes for $1-3 at my local Goodwill. Many times they look brand new.

This morning the whole family stopped into Goodwill to take advantage of the new tag sales (a new tag on sale each Sunday). Today all yellow tags dropped to $1.29 and all red tags were 50% off. There was no one looking at kids clothes this morning – and definitely NOT looking at long pants and sweaters in this 90+ degree weather! Now is the time to find the best bargains!!

There are some of the school clothes items we found:


Gymboree Carpenter Boys  Jeans – $4.99 – 50% off = $2.50
Children’s Place Girls Jeans – $4.99 yellow tag = $1.29


GAP Boys Long Sleeve Thermal – $3.99 – 50% off = $1.99
GAP Boys Long Sleeve Thermal – $3.99 – 50% off = $1.99


Old Navy Thermal Long Sleeve – $1.29
GAP Sweater – $2.50


Ralph Lauren button up dress shirt – $4.99 – 50% off = $2.50
US Polo Assn button up dress shirt – $4.99 – 50% off = $2.50


Girls dress – $4.99 – yellow tag = $1.29


Cherokee Girls Black Jacket – $3.99 – yellow tag discount = $1.29
Old Navy white t-shirt – $1.99 – 50% off = $0.99 cents – looks brand new!!


I am going to head to Alaska soon to visit my sister who has a little baby boy, so I found some deals for him, too!

Old Navy polo – $0.99
Osh Kosh Overalls – $3.99 – 50% off = $1.99
Gymboree corduroy pants – $3.99 – yellow tag discount = $0.99 cents!


And my daughter found a case full of Polly Pocket dolls and clothing for $3.99! And my son found some Magic Tree House chapter books for $0.99 cents each.

Here are some of my tips for thrift shopping:

  • Have a list of what you’re looking for. Thrift shops can be overwhelming – but have a plan, for example looking for girls jeans or pants, and you’ll find yourself much less overwhelmed and your success rate goes up.
  • Make sure to look on multiple racks, even if it’s not the size you’re looking for. I often find the treasures accidentally placed in the wrong size grouping.
  • Look a size up. Different brands fit differently. Look a size or two larger and you can either buy ahead of find an item that will fit, even though the size is larger.
  • Look closely for stains, snags, frays. Take the time to look over the clothing. Hold it up to the light. Do you see grease or food stains? Fraying? Missing Buttons, Tears? Check the ends of sleeves and the bottoms of dresses/pants.
  • Pay attention to the tag color on sale. Often thrift stores will discount a particular tag color.
  • Watch for coupons and sale days. Many thrift stores have a sales calendar available (I know Goodwill does), which tells you what tags are on sale when. Military and seniors can often save an additional percent. My local Tacoma Goodwill branch has a Facebook Friday coupon (every Friday)for 25% off a $20 purchase.
  • Try it on to be certain. If you can, try on clothing at the store – they usually have dressing rooms! Check a store’s return policy.
  • Go often. There are many times I stop into a thrift shop and walk out empty handed. It’s a treasure hunt that is sometimes fruitful and sometimes not. Be patient and you’ll find the deals!

Do you shop thrift shops for school clothes? What are your tips for saving on back-to-school clothes??


    Leave your comments here...


  1. Joy Patrick says

    Thanks for all the great ideas. JOY

  2. Terrific points on thrift store shopping! It is an amazing way to save a lot of money on kids clothes. My two girls grew up on yard sale and thrift store clothes. We all still shop at those places first to make the budget stretch as far as possible.

    A question on your Goodwill stores: The ones in New England and those here in Tennessee never divide clothing by size. Instead, they divide by color. I find it so frustrating and incredibly time consuming to find clothing there, as I have to go through so many racks. I have pretty much given up supporting them in favor of other stores whose inventory is sorted by size. What’s your experience?

  3. Second hand doesn’t mean second best! And you are absolutely correct in shopping “off” the current season. Your article addresses thrift stores, but consignment stores are also a great place to find great deals. (Our prices are similar to your examples – and we have sales as well) We the work for you (we have 2 different people who scrutinize every piece we take) we accept better brands, and if you bring clothes to sell you can shop with store credit making your out of pocket cost even less!

  4. Love thrift store shopping, it’s a great way for the kids to dress nice and for us to stretch our budget, my kids outgrow clothes so quick I would be broke if I were paying retail for everything even with frugal shopping. I’ve also started shopping online at Thread Up for the kids and I and at Twice for myself. We have a vacation coming up where it will cold at night and I just bought two ladies Gap T- shirts and 2 Banana Republic T-shirts (one new with tags) for $15 including shipping !!

  5. Great post! We have gone to almost all thrift store shopping as we have been able to get such amazing quality clothing at rock bottom prices. This really is the time to start school shopping as our thrift stores get really crazy and picked over right before school starts. Right now there is a lot to pick from when looking for fall clothes.

  6. love thrift store shopping. We have three thrift stores close by. One in particular has a $5 bag sale. They let you have anything you can fit into a grocery bag for five bucks! I found myself with two pair of shoes for the kids and four pair of pants for me the last time I was in there. I love thrift stores and hand-me- downs. We also get great yard sales that go on all summer where often you can find children’s clothing for 50 cents to one dollar. It helps keep the budget down and I can afford to stay home and be with the kids. Shopping second-hand is a blessing in our lives.

  7. karen broughton says


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