3 Tips For Farmers Shopping On National Thrift Shop Day

Farmers can often find items at discount prices by thrift shopping. But keep these questions in mind to avoid buyer's remorse this National Thrift Shop Day.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Daniel Johnson

Did you know Wednesday, Aug. 17 is National Thrift Shop Day?

I didn’t until I saw it on a list of national days taking place in August, and while I might question whether thrift shopping needs its own day (especially so soon after National Garage Sale Day—Aug. 13), I’m ready to celebrate.

I love shopping for good deals, and it’s satisfying to find a useful product at a bargain price.

Thrift shopping, or shopping for used items in general, can take on many forms. Maybe you’re shopping at a physical thrift shop, or maybe you’re shopping for used items online, either through an online store or through a social media page for sellers in your area.

Wherever you choose to shop, you can find just about anything you might need if you look long enough.

Thrift shopping can be a great way for hobby farmers to acquire tools, machines and more at discounted prices, expanding their farm’s capabilities without breaking the bank. But to avoid buyer’s remorse, it’s important for farmers to keep these three questions in mind when shopping:

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  1. Is the item in good condition?

A thrift store sells used items, and the condition will naturally vary from item to item. Ascertaining whether the condition is suitable for your needs is the first step in finding a good buy.

How much wear and tear you’re willing to accept may depend on the type of item. I frequently buy used books because I don’t mind if the pages are creased or the cover worn. But I’m more skeptical when it comes to bigger purchases like a lawn tractor or string trimmer mower, because you can’t always know how well it’s been maintained. A machine that looks fine on the outside might have an engine that’s close to worn out.

Depending on the seller, some used items might come with a limited-time guarantee or return policy, which can alleviate concerns on higher-priced purchases.

Read more: Read more about the four different types of mowers you may use around the farm.

  1. Is the price reasonable?

Just because a used item is in suitably good condition doesn’t make it a bargain buy. That’s determined by the price. Are you getting an appropriate discount by thrift shopping, farmers, or is the price still steep?

Think about it—an attractive old hand saw with a wooden handle might seem like a bargain at a price of $6. But if the blade is rusty and the teeth well worn, wouldn’t you rather buy a brand-new saw for $12?

It might be twice the price, and you might have to accept a plastic handle. But the time of a busy hobby farmer is valuable. A new saw with sharp teeth will save you time and effort compared to using (or stopping to sharpen) a dull saw.

And the time you save can offset the difference in price.

Exactly what constitutes a reasonable price will vary from product to product. Conducting a little online research can give you a ballpark price range for an item (both used and new). So you can gauge for yourself whether the item you’re viewing is reasonably priced for its condition.

Read more: Do you need a new hand saw? Here are 4 signs you just might.

  1. Do you actually need the item?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself. Particularly when you’re visiting physical stores, it’s tempting to come home with something—anything!—to make the trip worthwhile. But if you can’t find anything you want (or more importantly, need), why let thrift shopping turn into an exercise in unnecessary monetary expenditure?

Several years back, I visited a large emporium in a nearby town. One room was dedicated to old tools, and I thoroughly enjoyed perusing the seemingly infinite collections of wrenches, hand saws, screwdrivers and more. I wanted to pick something out, but what was the point?

They were well-used tools, and I already owned nice ones, so I reluctantly passed. No need to spend money on backup tools for my backup tools.

Keep these three questions in mind, farmers, and you’re more likely to find a solid thrift shopping bargain. Happy National Thrift Shop Day!

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