In the post “Get to Know Your Local Thrift Store” I discussed the benefits of getting on good terms with your local thrift stores. If you live in a small to midsized town, there maybe three or four of these within your town or neighborhood borders. IN a larger city, there may be too many to count. And even people in those small towns know that neighboring towns also have two or three thrift stores of their own. It is impossible to take advantage of all these places without help.
Host a meeting of friends, family and anyone who might be interested in joining a thrift store shopping network. Ideally, these people would be from different towns or neighborhoods. At the kick off meeting, you discuss what thrift stores each of you are familiar with. Then each person provides everyone else with a list of the items they are searching for the most, the sizes if necessary and the price they are willing to pay.
Let the Shopping Begin
Armed with the list from the other members of the network, each person shops the stores in his area with an eye to finding a good deal on the selected items. Depending on how well you all know one another, you can either call the person and say “Hey, I found the toddler snow suit you were looking for” so they can come an purchase it or the shopper can purchase it for them.
You have to trust one another’s judgment. Whether you make the trip to the store when you get the “I found it” phone call or you let the shopper pick it up for you, here can be serious disappointment if the item is not what you wanted. A wasted trip out of town or money spent on an item that isn’t right can cause problems. They best way to handle this is by limiting the size of the network and only working with people you know well and trust.
Handling the Money
If you choose to let the shoppers pick up the items on your list for you, you need to demand receipts from one another. If you give them cash up front, they can pay for it and give you’re the change along with the receipt. If they pay out of pocket, you need the receipt to show how much you need to reimburse them.
All that is left is getting together to swap goods. If this is a close knot group, you may already be getting together regularly. Weekly or monthly meetings can be sufficient for this purpose. Just make sure if an item is needed by a particular date, the shoppers know this and you make arrangements to get the item from them. It is your responsibility to pick up special items and not put them out any more than they already are by doing your shopping.