As a new church starter with a very limited budget I quickly realized that in order to decorate our “future” fellowship hall, I had to think outside of the box.  My church is located in a very economically challenged rural area in North Carolina but the people are loving, caring and willing to work.  With that in mind, I decided to go to a community thrift store and my life as a shopper changed forever.  I am so EXCITED about this blog that I want to share upfront that I have purchased everything that we need for our “future” fellowship hall with thrift store finds.  I know you can’t wait to read this blog now because I will provide some tips which can potentially save you and your church some money!  I do not claim by any means to be a veteran thrift store shopper, but I have always been thrifty.   Below are a few tips on how to start thrifting:

(1)  Location is everything.  In order to find the best thrift stores, you need to look in high cost living areas.  I went to www.zillow.com to check out high cost real estate close to me and then I looked for thrift stores, goodwill stores, flea markets and consignment shops. If you already know the high cost areas but you need to find out if there are thrift stores nearby, go to www.thethriftshopper.com to find a thrift store.  Other awesome places to start are at thrift stores and goodwill stores which are in close proximity to military installations.  Service members are constantly relocating and getting rid of great items.  Remember the cliché, “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.”

(2)  Best days of the week to shop.  Many thrift stores have sales or provide discounts on specific days.  For example, they often provide discounts for senior citizens, Veterans, holidays and back-to-school.  Many use color code discounts which are taken off the already low price, for example; they might provide a 50 percent off on all blue tags, 33 percent off on all yellow tags and 15 percent off all on orange tags.  Be certain to always inquire with a thrift store staff member regarding the best days of the week to shop for big discounts.

(3)  Obtain a frequent shopper Rewards Card.  Many thrift stores provide reward cards at no additional cost.  This is an excellent way to get additional discounts!  It is about maximizing your thrifting.

(4)  Ask them to HOST a Church Fundraiser.  Many thrift stores will host a church fundraiser at no cost because it will bring business to their establishment. They know that we will tell our church members and provide FREE advertisement for them.  It is a win-win situation.  Oftentimes, they do not advertise it, but I have found out that we have not, because we ask not.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  If they so “No” you haven’t lost anything, if they say “YES” the sky is the limit!!!

(5)  One must be adventurous and have TIME.   All thrift stores are not equal.  Some are well organized and others need a little tender loving organization.  Sometimes it takes some extra effort which includes time and patience to find the great deals.

(6)  Think outside of the box.   In order to be a good thrift store shopper, one must think outside of the box.  I have found so many thrift store finds that I have re-purposed.  It is amazing how a little thinking outside of the box, a little time, the needed supplies which are usually the cleaning supplies, paint and brushes can be used to re-purpose your thrift store finds into remarkable one of a kind items for your church.  No worries, if the MacGyver in you is causing apprehensiveness, go to www.hometalk.com or www.pinterest.com for ideas and tips for countless items.

(7)  Look for quality items.  Always look for quality and durable items.  Stainless steel is awesome for your fellowship hall.  If someone drops it, no problem…one can still use it.  If you are uncertain about brand names, you can always use your iPhone and search the brand name or a specific item to ensure that the item is not overpriced.  I have found so many brand name products.

(8)  Always carry hand sanitizer.  Remember that most of the items that you are going through are used items. Even though you can often find new items with the tags still attached, you need to keep your hand sanitizer with you at all times.  

(9)  Always disinfect and wash your items.  Be certain to always disinfect and wash your thrift store finds before use even if the items are new.  When thrifting, keep large garbage bags in your vehicle for easy transport.

(10) Shop Online for Savings.   If you tend not to be the adventurous type and you are more comfortable using your computer, iPad, tablet or iPhone,       all HOPE is not lost. To name a few, you can visit the following sites to be thrifty with your spending:

www.shopthesalvationarmy.org        www.thredup.com            www.abc-directory.com

Happy Thrifting!

Pastor: Rev. Dr. Carrie Jarrell Tuning, HOPE Christian Fellowship Church, Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina