Shocker! Thrift Stores Aren’t All Secondhand Land

Every time we are in a thrift store, we come across brand new items with tags attached. In the lingo of the resale industry, these are called NWT – New With Tags.  (The industry has other acronyms as well, such as NWOT – New Without Tags, NIB – New in Box, and NOS – New Old Stock, which refers to often-vintage items that never sold.)

At a large Salvation Army store in Urbandale, IA, Allison recently came across two dozen or so brand-new wedding dresses with tags intact and inside zippered plastic bags – likely donated by a bridal shop. There were recognizable brand names, such as Jessica McClintock, Alfred Angelo and Emme Bridal, with tags showing original prices ranging from $450 to $750. At Salvation Army, they were selling for $100.

Wedding sign

Previously worn wedding dresses were selling there in the $40 – $65 range, and prom dresses were even less expensive.

Months earlier, Allison found a similar cache of brand-new bridal dresses at the FIDM Scholarship store downtown Los Angeles. Some of the dresses had retail tags of $1,000 or more, and all were selling for a rock-bottom price of $50 each.

It’s such a common phenomenon that we rarely think to photograph these finds. Here are a few that we did:

At one of The Snooty Fox’s stores in Cincinnati, Ohio, we spied a vibrantly-colored Milly dress on sale for $149. Everything in the store was 20 percent off that day, due to one of the chain’s seasonal bus tours to its stores (our idea of a fun time!), so the final price for this luxury label dress was $119. The tag showed that the dress originally sold for $495.

At the Salvation Army Family Store in Litchfield, SC, a brand-new men’s XL NFL Team Apparel Reebok windbreaker was selling for $10.99. Similar ones online sell for $65 and up.

Just yesterday, at the Goodwill in La Quinta, CA, Allison ran across this men’s Ralph Lauren men’s khaki colored long-sleeved button-down shirt, with the tags and the plastic label down the front placket  intact. Price: $9.

So, whether someone made a bad purchase and regretted it, received a gift he or she hated, outgrew something before it was worn, or a store donated unsold merchandise – their misfortune can be your good fortune.  Happy shopping – let us know about your brand-new finds!

P.S. Another tag that is good to find in a thrift store is a dry cleaner’s ticket stapled to the label. It lets you know the item has been cared for — and is clean.

Laundry tag





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