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Not all thrift store finds are bargains
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While everyone is trying hard to save a dollar these days, there are some things you should not to buy at yard sales, church sales or thrift shops. Here are some examples:
• Stained clothing, unless you can tell at a glance that it will be easy to get out.
• Clothing without a laundry-care tag.
• Bed linens and mattresses. Bedbugs are becoming an epidemic in some parts of the country, and it’s not worth taking a chance for a low-cost set of sheets. Watch the sales in discount stores and buy when the price is even lower.
• Puzzles and toys with the parts tossed in a box. Unless you want to put it all together right there, you could get home and find that you don’t have all of it.
• Shoes for children. Rule of thumb for kids is: Dress them in rags but put good shoes on their feet. The younger the child, the more important this is. By putting someone else’s shoes on a foot that’s still developing, you can set the child up for potential foot problems down the road.
• New shoes for adults: If someone has donated a new pair of shoes, chances are they weren’t comfortable. If you really want them, walk around the store in them to make sure they’ll feel OK over time.
• Dishware with scratches. There could be bacteria embedded in the scratches that you’ll never get out. Skip metalware too, such as baking pans, especially if they have rust.
• Any electronics you can’t try out completely in the store. A “works fine” note on the item doesn’t mean it actually works, or it could mean that only some of the components work. In some areas it costs money to take unwanted electronics to the dump, and some charity shops won’t take them if they don’t work. Test before you buy.
More hints:
• Look for name brands. The item will likely be of a better quality. It’s a bonus if you find new tags still on it, but even so, check carefully for tears or seam problems in clothing.
• If you want to hunt for bargains, go to thrift stores or church sales in higher-end neighborhoods or towns. The merchandise that’s donated will be of a better quality.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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