After spring cleaning my closet and donating what no longer fit my image, I knew I needed something else. In chaotic times, and the online shopping era in itself, it felt a bit risky to go thrift shopping in New Jersey—but I did it anyway. Spoiler: it ended up feeling just right.
I tried playing it safe by going to a Goodwill Outlet in Bergen County that recently opened near me. Goodwill, as a non-profit, sells previously donated items. Most of their income goes toward programs such as GoodNeighbor. Through this program, Goodwill benefits people in need providing gift cards to their retail stores. According to their website, they recently gave away nearly “$1 million of free merchandise in 2018 to people in need.” As a fan of nonprofits, I did not second guess myself and knew this would be the one.
As my mom and I walked into the store, we noticed weights on the cash registers. A small section where high-end items were hanging in the back of glass display cabinets. These held sunglasses, hats and other objects of that kind.
While looking around, my mom and I approached a huge blue bin that had a bunch of clothes in it. When digging in, I came across vintage clothing, jeans and trendy tops that would be great for the fall. I rushed into the next room: what seemed to be a 20-foot-high ceiling, and a lot more of those blue bins everywhere. Those were organized by home decor, books, shoes and more clothing. Every once in a while, associates would restock them with new items as they began to appear empty.
Last but not least, the store made sure everyone was wearing a mask or an appropriate face covering. I brought hand sanitizer and I saw some people bring a pair of gloves, which were not absolutely necessary but that would have made me feel safer on that first trip to Goodwill.
At the end of my thrift shopping spree, I left the store with a Coach wallet, over 20 pieces of clothing, sunglasses and an almost brand-new suitcase for less than $100.
Tips When Thrift Shopping
For thrift shopping to be an even more enjoyable experience, have an idea of what you want. Whether it is jeans, blouses, sweaters or shoes. Most of the time, stores use categories to separate these items which makes it easier to shop but that also saves time when doing so. But when you have no idea of what to expect, like me, you will spend over two hours trying to find the one item that might be worth the wait.
However, something really important I learned while thrift shopping for the first time–and that I wish I had known before going–is how essential it is to plan ahead.
Before embarking on that journey, make sure you understand the dynamics of the store. Are the items weighed? Or do they have a price tag? While it might not seem important, this matters when it comes to clothing like coats, vintage and non-stretchy jeans that tend to be heavy and knit sweaters as well. You can easily find out by calling them or checking out their website.
Also, is it a furniture thrift store or a clothing store? A fun fact about family-run and independent outlets is that they tend to have a mix of both (furniture and clothing) but it is better to know beforehand, in case you are exclusively looking for a new dresser, nightstands or desks.
When sanitizing the clothes you picked, the aftercare is pretty simple. Keep in mind these are most likely used clothes, wash on a gentle cycle. Also, be aware that you might have not been the first person to come in contact with it that day. Preferably, use lukewarm water or hot, being mindful of the dark-colored items. Then, add your favorite detergent and some fabric softener to give it that signature smell. Once dried, right after, feel free to try on or just wear it out.
One of the best things about thrift shopping in New Jersey is the variety there is. When it comes to seasonal clothing, house decor items and essentials for the holidays. You can always find things in great shape that might be in season and not having to pay a lot for them.
Where to go Thrift Shopping in New Jersey
Due to the pandemic, some thrift stores had to close their doors to the public but here is a list of some that are following safety protocols and are ready for you to visit.
- Glow Tienda De Segunda Mano (Jersey City, NJ)
- The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center (North Bergen, Jersey City & Passaic, NJ)
- MyUnique Thrift (Paterson & Union City, NJ)
- Gonzalez Clothing Thrift-Shop (Union City, NJ)
- H.I.G.H.W.A.Y.S Thrift Shop (Bayonne, NJ)
- Hana Mission Thrift Store (Belleville & Lodi NJ)
- Thrift Shop of Hope (Englewood, NJ)
- St John’s Thrift Shop (Passaic, NJ)
- Little T’s Closet Children’s Thrift Boutique (Bergenfield, NJ)
- Goodwill NYNJ Outlet Store & Donation Center (South Hackensack, NJ)
While places like Goodwill and other nonprofit outlets may be on the most affordable side of the market, there are many types of thrift stores where you can get a great deal. From furniture stores to strictly vintage/antique outlets, there are plenty of places to try thrift shopping in New Jersey.