Men: Do you favor graphic tees from the 1980s that are as threadbare as Homer Simpson's underwear? Do you sport old-school Adidas jackets and athletic bags? Are your bookshelves filled with musty old tomes you "plan" on reading?
Then you may be a thrift-store junky. Even better, you may be a closet frugalista.
A peek into any thrift store will reveal at least half the customers are men, ranging in age from high schoolers to senior citizens. What is it about the Salvation Army, ARC and other stores of their ilk? Let's take a look.
1. The Cool Factor
Where else are you going to find World War II trench coats and old-man raincoats? Looking for a "Fleetwood Mac" T-shirt: Some former-rabid fan no doubt tossed it into the thrift-store box rather than the rag bag.
2. Girlfriend Gifts
Truly frugal guys know they can pick up an old Valentine's Day chocolate box, stick just about anything personal in it and thrill the female in their life. Cheesy men go for costume jewelry or the vase that started life in a Walmart floral section.
Goths, jocks, mods, retirees...all can be found wandering the aisles, looking for something they can't quite name. It sure beats amusing yourself at the mall or yet another city council meeting.
4. Rare Books
Where do you go for an ancient encyclopedia if you don't trust Wikipedia or just need to fill some shelves? How about an old edition of "The Hardy Boys" or a classic textbook? Why the thrift shop, of course. If you're really lucky, you'll run across an overlooked first edition, suitable for resale on eBay.
5. Speaking of eBay
A majority of online auctioneers appear to be men, perhaps because it's a fairly easy way to earn extra income. Those classic graphic tees, ancient vinyl records (with artistic cardboard sleeves) and other modern antiques can bring in a bit of fine cash on eBay with a comparative minimum of time and expense. Perhaps that's why some guys make a living this way, which explains why they never change out of their sweatpants.
Thrift stores are a great place to find fairly decent bookshelves, which sure beats particle-board shelves and concrete blocks for a starter apartment. With a bit of luck, you'll find bookshelves that look decent when filled with your favorite tomes.
Some men just can't have enough tools. Thrift stores fulfill that desire without splashing cash around the home-improvement center. A discerning eye also can find antique tools that have a healthy resale value.
8. Disposable Furniture
Thrift stores are a godsend for slobs and the interior-decorating impaired. Who's going to complain when you put your feet up on a second-hand coffee table? Spills and glass rings? No problem. When you're done, just toss the furniture to the curb and you can count on some other guy snagging it -- the ultimate recycling.
Unless you're a veteran of Father's Day or a fashionista, your tie collection is likely limited to a a grossly wide neck noose from the 1980s. You'll find the perfect dress-shirt accent for a tenth of the cost for your prom, job interview, wedding or funeral. Thrift shops also are a great place to find the skinny ties coveted by hipsters.
Prices for a decent leather belt are ridiculous, unless you regularly shop dollar stores. Thrift shops usually carry an assortment of quality waist wear tossed off by men who've gained weight or simply didn't care for the style. Or you could go the Fred Astaire route and wear a tie as a belt. (See #9 above)
11. Work Clothes
Don't get paint or mud all over your favorite jeans. Pick up some grody work wear in the men's section and toss them into the rag bin when you're done.
12. Grilling Tools
Do you have a hankering for caveman-style cooking? Barbecue implements can be pricey elsewhere, but thrift shops always seem to have a nice selection of castoffs at decent prices.