I've got secrets about where to get the best deals. I don't spend like I used to, but with the creativity I've put into finding what I need (ok, want sometimes), I still get a shopping fix here and there. ;) I will note now, if you are thrift store phobic then stop reading now. You wont like it... but I tell ya sometimes it feels good to slum.
Which brings me to store #1:
Goodwill Outlet (at the end of Casino Rd near Airport Rd- I know I saw one in Seattle once too...).
Oh my this store is something and I think I'm addicted. It's slightly embarrassing. It opened up maybe 6 or 7 months ago I believe, and it sells stuff BY THE POUND. Cheaply by the pound I might add. Now you have to be in treasure hunting mode or else don't waste your time- everything is dumped into giant bins and you have to dig through it (and I will say, some of the characters you come across there are slightly psychopathic- wonder if they think the same of me?) But when you find a pair of designer jeans for $0.75, you will know the high I speak of. So here are the things I recommend buying here:
1) Clothing. The stuff that goes to this store is the stuff that doesn't sell at the normal Goodwill. Think: Originally Stupidly Overpriced (you know you think this when you go to the normal thrift store anymore. Stuff's cheaper at Ross). I have found SOOOOOO much amazing clothing for myself, Jake (less for men unfortunately, far more stuff for women), and the kids.
2) Electronics. Oh you'll die when you see the prices on electronics. I should mention that my children have a tv in their room with a dvd player. I am not the sort of mom that hovers, and so unfortunately we have gone through a shit ton of dvd players. I'm serious. Like at least 10. Seriously. So anyways, dvd players are $2 or $3, they always have them. TV's are about $5 maybe (you wont find that flat screen- but trust me when I say for kids this is good. We put a $500 flat screen in the kids room. It now lives at the local dump. They're not sturdy enough for kids... like mine anyway). (Ahem- just remembered another funny little blog called Shit My Kids Ruined http://www.shitmykidsruined.com/)
3) Furniture? This is iffy, but you can sometimes find great things. I got what appeared to be a brand new highchair for $6. I like to repaint and do random art projects with my furniture, so better on a $5 table then a new one ;)
4) Books. Soft covers are like $0.25 and hard covers are like $0.35. I will give you all fair warning, don't try to buy books when they put out the new bins. People are insane, stand far away.
5) Toys. I promise your kids wont die if you buy them used toys- wipe them suckers down with some bleach water and let the kids go at it. I am picky, but plastic is plastic. If it's beat to shit or is missing pieces it's a no (to Eli's misfortune on occasion). I have found a light saber and a blaster that probably didn't cost $1 together- this was an hour after Eli was panicking in Target that I wouldn't buy him the $30 light saber in the toy section (it was the same EXACT one), all models of plastic noisy things that kids like and are normally at least $20 each, I just today got Eli this Robot that was OVER $100 last Christmas at Target (probably cost me $1- that bitch was heavy), we've gotten tonka trucks, train sets, etc etc etc.
(Found another cool blog with a story on "the bins"- read here: http://www.chic-steals.com/2010/04/goodwill-outlet-store-aka-bins.html)
It's not glamorous, but damn it's kinda fun.
Dollar Tree!!! (They're everywhere!)
I looooooove me some dollar tree! I shit you not, I go 2 or 3 times a week. If you've never been to dollar tree, you are spending too much on stuff you shouldn't be spending too much on. Now I'm not talking any old dollar plus store- I go into those occasionally, but I always return to dollar tree. Here are the things I regularly buy there:
1) Candles. They burn slow, they don't stink, whatev. I bought some at Ross the other day and lit them all, and the Ross candle was dead by the end of the night, but the Dollar Tree candle was burning strong! I will sometimes branch out and get candles elsewhere, but this is my go to place for stock candles.
2) Cleaning products. Oh hallelujah it is so much cheaper to buy cleaning products at the dollar store. I get basically everything there for cleaning minus garbage bags (you just really don't want to skimp on garbage bag quality).
3) If you have animals, they have animal stuffs- food, collars, toys etc etc.
4) Light bulbs, batteries, tools, that sort of thing. Superglue! I desperately needed superglue the other day and was about to buy it at Albertsons (God I hate Albertsons with a fiery passion, avoid shopping there if possible). It was $5 at Albertsons for a one pack, and next door at Dollar Tree it was $1 for a three pack.
5) Kitchen towels, utensils, foil, tupperware, etc etc.
6) Holiday things! Just spent $20 getting everything I need for Halloween. I will be back to stuff stockings during Christmas and buy all of my wrapping paper, tape, etc there.
Did I mention they have pregnancy tests? I've sure been through my share of those puppies. I'm going to start telling people we're Catholic.
And good golly you wouldn't guess what I saw there the other day? Go on guess.... warming lube! I was trying desperately to find a photo online to post here, but instead I found this review on yelp for dollar tree:
"What about warming lube? That shit costs more than cocaine if you go to Target or The Leather Den. You want to know how much it costs at Dollar Tree?
A FUCKING DOLLAR! I SWEAR TO GOD!"
Now a last note on Dollar Tree- I have thus far been a snob and not bought food there. I was speaking to the lovely sales girl yesterday though, and it turns out that because they are corporately owned and operated that everything has to follow protocol (not like some of these tiny dollar stores with expired food- barf). I may go out on a limb and see what I see for food next time I'm in- I did notice they had Oreos last time I was there... :)
Target. Ok gahhh, I've heard a bit about them supporting some anti-gay agenda. I am quite annoyed and hope they fix this problem quickly. I did some research during the last presidential election about which companies supported liberal politics and which supported conservative politics so I could buy accordingly, and I remember Target supporting liberals so this is like a punch in the face! I don't want to put my face down and pretend I didn't hear anything, but I do like Target :( Anywho, assuming you can stomach spending money there any longer, here are the things that are priced best at Target:
1) Paper Products: Toilet paper (I like Charmin Ultra Strong!), garbage bags, Target Brand diapers (they are as good as Huggies and better than Pampers imho), diaper wipes (only Huggies wipes for us- they're much thicker than any others). Paper towels if you must, but also remember it's not too hard to use a rag instead and save a bit of garbage. One cleaning product you might buy here over Dollar Tree is laundry soap (but still get your dryer sheets at Dollar Tree). I normally go for either Arm and Hammer concentrated or All Free and Clear. If you have infants, please stop wasting your money on Dreft and just get All Free and Clear. It has no dyes or perfumes in it. Problem solved.
2) Food. Not all food, only some foods. Soda (which I'm not allowed to have anymore, whine), and cereal are the first two that come to mind. Much less pricey here than the normal grocery store. Sometimes if they are out of a product, they'll give you another similar product for something like 50% off (they normally have the little red tags under them). What I do is I'll just do a quick scan down the aisles to see where the red tags are and take a looksee in case the alternative is something I'd like to purchase at half off. Don't ever buy dairy products here- terribly overpriced.
Fred Meyer. There's not a ton of raging deals here, but one close to my heart comes to mind.
1) Salmon. Cheapest place in the world almost ever to buy wild caught salmon. If you buy an entire fish and have them filet it, it's oftentimes $2.99 a pound. You wont find a better deal anywhere else.
Now Fred Meyer will try to suck you in with it's constant sales. These sales are rarely worth wasting your time. I will scan the additional 50% off housewares (if you need house paint, look at the shelf of mis-tints), but don't bother with their overpriced clothes most of the time. You can find kids clothes cheaper. Now *sometimes* they go take an additional 75% off, and this would be the time to dig around and see what you see. I'd say mostly don't waste your time with the overpriced furniture either, and good god don't buy picture frames here.
Ross. This is if you of course can handle the lines, the mess, and the screaming children. Some days I can, some days I can't. Try to use the bathroom before you get there- ick.
Things to buy at Ross:
1) Clothing and shoes and housewares. Obviously.
There's not much else to say about Ross, but something I will throw out there that I've just recently come across is that they have a good amount of organizational stuffs for super cheap! I got this thing that goes under my bed and stores my shoes (freeing up the entire upper shelf in my closet- hurray!), and these other doo dads that hang over your doors and have pockets (in my office I keep my scissors and tape and all that jazz in one of those guys). I never had looked through that stuff before, but I'm nesting with a vengeance and I'm glad I was able to find good prices on such things! They're quite a bit more at Target.
Pawn Exchange. This is a new one for me, but darnit if I haven't found some great deals on things that I've in the past spent ungodly amounts of money on. Namely:
1) Video game consoles, games, and controllers. I bought a Wii controller there a bit ago for $20, and the Wii controller I bought at Target a few weeks prior to that was something like $75 with the nun chuck. No seriously. Games are anywhere from $5 to $20, never more. The reason I've found this all out started the day I was going to light Game Stop on fire. Eff that place. Rapists, all of them. I literally bought a $60 game, and once it was beat a few weeks later I went to trade it in for something else. They gave me $10, and turned around and sold the used copy for $50. That's bullshit in my book.
Anyways, moving on:
2) Musical instruments. Self explanatory. They're in reasonable shape, you don't really need a brand spanking new guitar most of the time. We've gotten some good deals.
3) Tools. I have personally never bought a tool here, but if I needed an expensive type tool, here is where I would go.
4) Vacuums? I just bought a vacuum there for $30 that would've cost me $150 at Target new... works great.
As far as full on grocery shopping goes, I stick with Safeway for many reasons that aren't all price related. They're cheaper than some (Haggen, QFC), but they have competition in their price range as well. The ambiance is nice, the people aren't ghetto (cough Albertsons cough), I like the shopping carts, there's almost always a Starbucks inside... you get the idea. I used to make the random trip to Grocery Outlet (or Ghettoville as Carly and I used to call it about 10 years ago), but even they seem more pricey than they used to be.
I get the feeling I'm forgetting some good places... but this should start you off on your treasure hunting experience! Share any secrets you know in comments!!!