It’s that time again: back to school. Time to prepare, coordinate, make schedules and, of course, shop! I consider shopping an activity, an outing, a social experience and, of course, a diversion. Shopping has a fairly unique definition; it’s a noun, verb, adjective and an idiom. I’ve loved back-to-school supply shopping my whole life—during my childhood and now over the years with my own kids.  

This week’s shopping trip is all about being creative and thrifty. I’m not talking pencils, folders, markers and paper; I’m talking about clothes shopping for those on a budget and those who crave individuality. I’ve chosen three of my favorite thrifting haunts that are close by for different reasons: kids clothes, because I think we’ve all figured out that they grow like weeds and most outfits don’t make it through the fall semester without becoming too short or too tight so why pay a premium for that?; athletes who always need more sports gear; and, finally, the high school and college students who share their own style and taste with screenshots on social media.

Once Upon a Child
80 Route 6, Baldwin Place, NY
Locally owned and operated, this franchise is packed with clean, gently used, name-brand clothing for kids from newborn to size 16. Missed something at Baby Gap in the mall? You will likely find it here at a deep discount and like-new. Also available are bikes, strollers, playhouses, books and furniture, all selected by a team of certified buyers with the highest of standards. The website and friendly and knowledgeable staff offer clear buying and selling tips. For athletes, it carries a large inventory of sports equipment and footwear.
Why I love it:
Because where else can you get paid on the spot for re-selling your kid’s outgrown clothes? The customer appreciation card and emailed coupons are a bonus; I have never left empty-handed.

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Goodwill Industries Store & Donation Center
80 Route 6, Baldwin Place, NY
OK, so I didn’t plan a diversion around only one shopping plaza, but when it’s worth a trip, I have to share it. This large non-profit store that as part of Goodwill Industries empowers, supports and employs people with disabilities is a treasure trove of fashion finds—when you have the time to look. This is where you can find amazing donated apparel, house wares, furniture and accessories at incredible prices. There is a reason that stylists shop here and fashion-forward young adults hone their unique individual style here. Re-entering the workforce? Find what you need, men or women, right here, and, of course, there are tons of great kid’s clothes. You need time to hunt but you won’t be disappointed.

Why I love it:
Because I have found the following: a Calvin Klein dress for $8, a Garnet Hill girls wool winter coat for $10 and a set of china for $35 that I re-sold on eBay for $200. Because they offer daily sales and a 5 percent discount card. I just can’t stay away.

Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop
199 Hamilton Ave., Greenwich, CT
This gem has been a gift that keeps on giving since 1921 and is sponsored by the Greenwich Hospital Auxiliary. I admit that I preferred its former location where it was in casual disarray, filled with boxes of treasures to dig into and tight aisles with racks stuffed with clothes of all styles and sizes. However, the current location probably appeals more to everyone else. It is a beautiful store—more of a boutique; organized, well-lit, well-stocked with incredible clothing brands, house wares, sports equipment, furniture, antiques and accessories—all in great condition. Find all the best everyday and special-occasion kids and adult clothing at guilt-free prices. This shop is worth the drive and there is plenty to do nearby.  

Why I love it:
Because in addition to the incredible clothing I have found custom window treatments, beautifully monogrammed linens and fine jewelry here for next to nothing. It’s remarkably clean, all of the stock is clearly sized and organized and there is also plenty of knowledgeable staff to guide you to what you need, or don’t need but want.