7 Reasons to Thrift Shop for Teens for Back to School + $100 Gift Card Giveaway!

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7 Reasons to Thrift Shop with Teens

7 Reasons to Thrift Shop With Teens for Back To School

It’s that time again for back to school shopping & other than Christmas, this can be one of the priciest times of the year for families. Not only are kids needing new school supplies every year, but it’s also the time of year to look at new clothes & shoes. Once your child hits the tweens & teens, the expenses really start to add up as you’re buying adult priced clothes & shoes, along with any of the tech needs that they will have for school. So, this is the time to look for any ways you can work to trim your back to school budget.

The first steps for back to school clothes shopping with teens should always be to take an inventory of what still fits and what you will need to purchase and make a big list with your teen of what you need to purchase. Figure out your budget for shopping so you know what you can afford. Once you have your list, I’d suggest heading to your local thrift store first to see what your teen can find to fit his or her’s style and help free up room in your budget by knocking some items off your list at a lower price. You may be surprised to find out that many teens will surprise you by finding items that are just what they are looking for at a thrift store, since they have such a wide selection of styles to fit any fashion & it can help them really put together their own, very individualized look. Plus, shopping at a thrift store can help you save quite a bit on your back to school budget, saving money for your larger purchases or special items teens may want.

My girls and I headed to our local Goodwill this week for some back to school shopping and met up with some local teens & college students to learn about the favorite looks & style tips from local teens & how to shop at thrift stores for the best savings & most unique looks. My older daughter just turned 13, so she is a new teenager, so it was fun & informative to hear from these teens across a wide range of ages about their style thoughts & what is popular for teens with fashion right now.  So, I wanted to share some of those tips with you & why thrift shopping can be a great way to find clothes & shoes that your teen will like + help you stay within your back to school budget or even lower it with our tips on ways to save.

Make sure to check out more of our Tips for Shopping Back to School Trends at Goodwill!

We also have some great ways to DIY School Supplies using items from Goodwill & thrift stores.

Thrift Store Clothes are more Unique with more options to fit every style

Teen Thrift Store styles

Photo Credit: Goodwill

My biggest takeaway from meeting with the teens & college students this week was that fashion for teens is all about finding your own unique & individual style. There are definitely trends that are popular with teens, but all of the teens emphasized that most of all, they wanted to have their own unique style that was different from everyone else. They wanted to find clothes that would be original and show their personality& interests. When all of your clothes are from retail stores, there is more chance of duplicates, so they loved to shop at thrift stores first to look for unique, original items.

Teen styles at Goodwill

Photo Credit: Goodwill

By shopping thrift for unique items, teens can really create a more personal & individual style that really fits them rather than having to focus on only the current trends in the retail stores. This is very true of my daughter, she has very definite likes & dislikes in clothing, so retail shopping can be a long & tedious process, trying to find things that she feels really fit her personality. However, she always has success when we go to the thrift stores, finding unique graphic t-shirts or the perfect stylish boots that she loves.

Style for teens right now is also influenced by the music they like, trying to dress similar to how their favorite musicians like to dress. Social media makes it so much easier for teens to follow their favorite musicians and check out their styles, so they like to gear their tastes towards similar styles, but with their own unique style & twist.

Shop Styles that are Back in Style from Previous Decades

80s Look at Goodwill

80’s/ Stranger Things Style – Photo Credit: Goodwill

It seems like now more than ever is the time when so many styles are coming back from previous decades & teens are loving wearing long-ago styles. 80’s style clothes are very hot right now thanks to the popularity of the tv show, Stranger Things. There are a lot of early 90’s fashions coming back as well, everything from plaids, to subtle neon to metallics. The difference is that they may pair the earlier decade with something different to make it more unique to them – like the classic school girl look with plaid skirts but then paired with combat boots & torn leggings for example.

The inventory is always changing 

Boho look at Goodwill

Boho Look – Photo Credit – Goodwill

One of the best reasons to shop thrift for teens who love to show off their very personal style is that the inventory of clothes, shoes, & accessories is always changing. It literally changes daily & throughout the day as they are constantly receiving new donations from the community. Our local Goodwill store is bringing out new items all day, every day, due to the wide variety of items that are donated to the store. So, every time you visit the store, you can find new treasures & things you haven’t found, unlike the retail stores where items are only changing every few weeks or longer based on the seasons. The teens I chatted with recommended stopping in at least once or twice a week to your local Goodwill store to see what is new as you never know what treasures await you.

Find high quality brands at a fraction of the price

Shoes at Goodwill

Photo Credit: Goodwill

If your teens love high-quality name brands that come with a higher price tag, it’s always a good idea to check thrift stores first.  This is one of the best ways to get discounts on those high-end items by finding it gently used at a thrift store and paying significantly less than you would in the stores for the item priced new. Make a list of what items & brands they are really wanting and check out a few thrift stores first to see if you can find what they are looking for to give you more room in your budget. If you are really wanting that high end item too, by shopping at thrift stores for the other items,  you can lower your spending so you save for that higher priced item, too.

I’ve often found items with price tags still on them at Goodwill & other thrift stores as so many people may buy items & then decide later on that it just doesn’t work for them, so they will donate the items without even wearing if it stays in their closet for awhile. That’s why it’s always worth a trip to the thrift store to search out those brands you know you love but want to save big on.

This is especially true for college students as they are on a very tight budget on their own, so thrift store clothes shopping means they can still have their favorite brands without paying the hefty price tag. The bonus is that the items may be more comfortable with the gently used, lived in feel, just perfect for college life.

Lucky Jeans at Goodwill

Some of my favorite items to look for at Goodwill are name brand jeans as they often have quite a large selection of the high end jeans. Shoes are also a big one to look for as you can find very gently used shoes or practically new shoes often at much lower prices than you’d pay for new in the store.

One Stop Shopping all in one place

Sporty teen boys style at Goodwill

Sports/Casual Look  – Photo Credit: Goodwill

With thrift stores like Goodwill, you can see a variety of styles all in one place without having to go to a variety of different stores. This is definitely a big benefit to mom – less driving around & going from store to store. I’d recommend you start your shopping at your local thrift store first to see what you can check off your back to school shopping list.  Anything that you can find thrifting at a lower price will reduce your budget to help you spend less & save more for the more spendy items on your list. Be armed with a list, though – go thru your teen’s closet & drawers before shopping & have them sit down with you & list the items they need to make their wardrobe complete for back to school time. Then, see what you can check off your list for less at thrift stores like Goodwill.

E Girl look at Goodwill

E Girl look – Photo Credit- Goodwill

Thrift stores are also nice to not only check out the clothing, but look for unique jewelry, purses/bags, scarves & more while you’re there. And shoes are always one thing I always search at Goodwill. Once you move from kids shoes to adult size shoes for teens, boy, that price tag can be painful, am I right? I  always look for gently used shoes at Goodwill as so many people will buy shoes & then find out after one or two uses that they are not a good fit, so they will donate them. I have found many a good pair of shoes at Goodwill.

My daughter’s favorite purchase from our shopping trip to Goodwill this week are these brown leather tall boots.  They were our most expensive purchase of the day …at just $14.99.  She is thrilled with them & the best part is that they are gently used, so they don’t have that uncomfortable, stiff feeling you get with new shoes or boots, but they feel great right from the start since they are a bit more lived in. And I love that they are so budget-friendly, especially as shoes can be so pricey for your budget.

Pair Lower Thrift Prices with Additional Savings

Back to school shopping at Goodwill


Not only can you find lower prices on items by shopping thrift, but you can factor in even more savings when you combine those low prices with special promos, sales or coupons. Almost all thrift stores will have additional savings days or coupons you can pair up with the lower prices for better savings.

At the Goodwill stores of the Olympics & Rainier region, there are quite a variety of ways to save on your shopping trips to Goodwill. The key is to be prepared & do your research on the coupons & promos you can use on your shopping trip ahead of time, to help you maximize your savings.

Here are the best ways to save at Goodwill stores in the Olympics & Rainier Region::

Sporty Girl Fashion at Goodwill

Sporty Look – Photo Credit: Goodwill

{These specific savings tips are for the Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier region in WA – see if your store is in this area with the store locator. If you are not local to this area,  make sure to check out your local Goodwill or thrift stores for their savings info.}

Sign up for emails

Head to the Goodwill site to sign up for emails to be notified first of sales,  special promos & coupons. I find that signing up for an email list from a store is a guaranteed way that I won’t miss a special sale or promo. With social media always changing, you may not see things in your feed as often, so emails are definitely the most important way to stay connected on sales, coupons & more.

Follow their Social Media Channels

Make sure to follow the social media channels for your local Goodwill store. You can find out about the latest promos, sales & coupons that may only be offered for those followers.

Social Media Channels for Goodwill of Olympics & Rainier Region:

  • Facebook – follow them on Facebook to learn about special sales & coupons. Especially on Fridays, they often feature Facebook Fan Friday coupons with special savings
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest – even though you won’t find coupons on Pinterest, it’s a great place to get style inspiration such as their Back to School board

Shop Special Sales or Promos 

I love hitting up Goodwill when they have their special sales or promos as you can really score some awesome deals on their donated merchandise by pairing the sales with the lower prices. This week, they actually have an awesome sale on apparel –  perfect timing with Back to School shopping.  You can find out about these special sales by signing up for their emails & following them on social media.

Buy More, Save More Promo – Friday 8/16/19 & Saturday 8/17/19 – Spend $25 on donated apparel, save 25% off all donated apparel. Spend $50, save 40% off all donated apparel. {this is at all of the Goodwill of Olympics & Rainier region stores, apparel only} This is an awesome promo & great time to start shopping now for those back to school clothes & see what items you can knock off your teens’ lists to maximize your savings.

Denim BOGO – buy one get one free on all denim (this sale is valid at all regular retail locations ). The sale runs from August 19th –  September 1st.

BOGO Mug for College Students – Get 1 Free Mug with purchase of a donated mug. This expires Fri 8/17/19

(All of these coupons & specials are for the Goodwill stores in the Olympics & Rainier Region)

Check their Monthly Calendar for Discount Days & Special Sales

Whenever you walk into a Goodwill store, you can find a printed monthly calendar to take with you with all of their special promos & sales for the month. They also have a monthly calendar online so you can check ahead to figure out when are the best days to shop.  {Just remember to also check your email or social media as they may add extra sales/coupons like they are doing this weekend for the Buy More, Save More promo}

What I love about their monthly calendar is that they show you all the specials that are going on every single day. Only at Goodwill is there a sale every day, with a different color tag on sale for 50% off.

They also offer special discount days for students and military with an extra 10% off donated items, so another way to save.

Donate & receive a coupon

When you bring items in to donate at local Goodwill stores, you will receive a 30% off coupon to use on 1 donated item. This is a great extra savings to have on hand for a higher priced item. It’s a way to encourage your teens to go thru their closet first, before shopping, and then bring their items to donate in to get that extra savings coupon, too.

It’s Environmentally Friendly & Helps the Community

Goodwill Juniors fashions

Teens nowadays are much more environmentally conscious than previous generations, so thrift shopping is not only frugal and a way to find clothes that are unique to them, but it’s also a way they can be “green” and support our planet thru less waste & reusing items. When you shop at thrift stores, you are keeping items from going to the landfill and giving new life to gently used items that still have a lot of life left in them. So, this is a great way that teens can help the environment while also saving some cash & finding some great items.

By shopping at Goodwill, it is also a great way that teens, & you as parents, can support people in your community. The mission of Goodwill is to provide job training,  career skills and job placement services for members of our own communities. They serve at-risk youth, veterans, people with disabilities, seniors, single moms & more.

By shopping at Goodwill retail stores, $.91 of every dollar goes back directly to the job training and placement program. In 2017, the Goodwill of Olympics & Rainier region served over 9400 people in the south Sound community. Some of the training programs include

  • New Manufacturing Program
  • Barista Training Program (in partnership with Starbucks)
  • Culinary School
  • Warehouse Industry training
  • Youth Build / Construction training
  • Financial Literacy
  • Computer & math skills
  • GED classes 

Our Shopping Experience:

Showing Black & White Shirt & boots

After hearing some great tips from teens about fashion & style, my girls had the opportunity to shop with the teens to check out our local Goodwill’s clothes & shoe selection to see if they could tackle some back to school shopping. It was nice for them to have an opportunity to shop with teens & college kids to hear their perspectives, too, and not just mom or dads.

My girls definitely found some amazing deals on gently-used clothes & even a pair of awesome leather boots for my older daughter.

Goodwill finds for back to school

Here’s how they did:

My younger daughter – 7 items including 4 tops, 2 pairs of jeans and a denim jacket all for $35 (that’s an average of just $5/item)

My older daughter – 7 items including 2 pairs of jeans, 1 sweatshirt, 2 blouses and 1 top & 1 pair of tall leather boots for $55

(That is without any coupons so if you brought in any donated items, you could get a 30% off coupon, which I could have used on the boots to get them for around $10)

They definitely found some great pieces to add to their wardrobe and some classic pieces like the leather boots for just $15 & the denim jacket for just $8. I love finding staples for your wardrobe like that at a lower price, which leaves room in your budget if they have a few fun items at the retail stores they are wanting to get.

Giveaway: $100 Goodwill Gift Card 

We have partnered with the Goodwill stores of the Olympics & Rainier Region to giveaway a $100 Goodwill gift card. This card can only be used in stores that are in the Goodwill of Olympics & Rainier region (you can see a store locator here)

This giveaway will end on Tuesday August 20th, at 9pm pst.

The winners will be drawn using Random.org and we will email the winners. The winners will have 48 hours to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be drawn. US residents only & you must be 18 yrs or older to enter the giveaway. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook in any way.

Here’s how to enter this giveaway::

1st Entry (required entry): Let us know what back to school items are on your list to purchase. 

Extra Entries : (make sure this is a separate comment, with a comment for each entry)

2nd Entry: Share this giveaway using one of the share buttons at the top of the post. Leave a comment to let us know how you shared – Facebook, Twitter,  email,  Pinterest,  etc.



    1. Shirts, sweatshirts, shoes, and athletic pants for my older son. Jeans and any “cool” apparel or accessories for my younger son.

  1. Quirky t-shirts and flannels are on my daughter’s shopping list….perfect finds for a thrift store!

  2. Shopping for my Teenage son that is starting a High School this year. Certain looks are very important to him.

  3. 17 yo daughter: jeans, leggings, sneakers, sweatshirts, graphic t’s.
    12yo son: jeans, sweat pants, graphic t’s.
    6yo son: pants, light jacket, long sleeve shirts, sneakers.
    4yo daughter: skirts, leggings, sweater, slip-on shoes.

  4. On our list: go to thrift stores to find their “own look!” Both kids love going to put their outfits together.

  5. I’m looking for any soft clothes. My daughter doesn’t wear jeans and has a thing about textures. Makes clothes shopping extremely difficult on both of us.

  6. My son in third grade needs everything because of how quickly he grows! Pants, shirts, shoes, socks and underwear!

  7. Ugh. We need shoes, a backpack, lunch bag, flannel type overshirts… maybe a pair or two of jeans. Goodwill here we come!

  8. Athletic apparel for my 10 year old boy. Shorts and some slides would be nice. Jeans and flannels, plaid shirts for my 7 year old son. Also Halloween costume ideas!

  9. Clothes and shoes for sure. We love finding name brand items at thrift stores. Especially with a teen boy in the house now.

  10. Now that our oldest is in middle school, he has found that he loves hoodies. So hoodies are on the tops of our list and when bought new, some are expensive!

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