ESL Online Magazine

helping English language learners expand their skills and their lives

5 Alternative Ways to Shop and Save Money

In addition to traditional stores and online shopping, most American towns and cities have five alternative types of stores. Finding one of these could be the best way to save money during your stay in the States while also recycling for the good of the environment and perhaps a greater cause. All five of them sell used items that are in reasonable to very good condition.

1. Thrift Stores typically benefit a non-profit organization that is doing some good in the world. For example, a hospital, church, or social service organization may have a thrift store. People donate (give for free) their used clothing, furniture, and other items to the store. The government rewards donors by reducing the amount of tax the donor has to pay.  The thrift store sells the used items at a low price. All profits are used to benefit the organization.

2. Consignment Shops are similar to thrift stores. However, consignment shops differ in a significant way. The person giving used items to the store does not do it for free. It is not a donation.  The owner of the store agrees to display the item in the store for a certain period of time. If it sells, both the owner and the shop keeper share the profit. If it doesn’t sell, the shopkeeper returns the item to the original owner.

3. Pawn Shops  have a poor reputation because many Americans believe that thieves sell their stolen goods to pawn shops for immediate cash. Whether or not it is true, pawn shops are another way to buy used things at a low price.  The only difference between a pawn shop and a consignment or thrift shop is that the store owner will pay cash immediately to anyone who wants to put their used items up for sale in the store. For the shopper at a pawn shop, the experience is not that different to shopping in a consignment or thrift store.

4. Classifieds are another way to buy used goods at a great price. Newspapers have classified sections listing items for sale. People who want to sell a car, bike, furniture or other items pay the newspaper a small fee to advertise, listing their contact information as well as the item and price. Interested buyers contact the owner and make arrangements to see the used items. The buyer and seller are likely to negotiate on the price. In recent years, a website called Craigslist has become a more popular way to list classifieds than a newspaper. Unlike newspapers, Craigslist is free for the seller and buyer as well as immediately accessible.

5. Garage Sales are advertised in classified sections of newspapers and on Craigslist. An individual or neighborhood collects all their unwanted, used items and puts them outside the front of their house on a weekend morning. The time and day are not only advertised in classifieds but on signs posted throughout the neighborhood as well. Prices are determined by the seller; however, the buyer sometimes tries to negotiate for a better deal. People who shop garage sales typically map out several garage sales within one section of town and visit several within a few hours. Garage sales are not only a great way to buy used items but also a fun way to practice your English and meet your neighbors.



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