Thrift Shopping For eBay

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Guard Your Cart While Shopping at Thrift Stores

You might think that guarding your cart is not that important while shopping at thrift stores right? I mean it's just a bunch of other people's junk? Well if you, like me, believe that, "One man's junk is another man's treasure" as the saying goes, you will want to guard your cart when shopping at Goodwill and other thrift stores. Recently I have had two bad experiences happen to me because I wasn't guarding my cart.

The Cashmere Sweater Incident

The first instance happened when I was shopping in a Goodwill store. I had all of my items in my cart and was headed to the check out area when I decided to just stop by the men's sweater area to see if I could find any cashmere sweaters. I had recently been doing research on what types of clothing sells well on eBay and I read that cashmere sweaters always sell. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a camel colored men's cashmere mock turtleneck sweater on the rack, with absolutely no holes or flaws. I excitedly put it into my cart and because it was the last item in my cart, it was on top of a pile of clothes. When I got in line, I realized that I had forgotten my wallet in my car, so I had to run out to the parking lot to get it. Wanting to keep my cart in a convenient area, I asked the cashier on the end of the line of cash registers if I could keep my cart near her while I ran out to the car to get my wallet. She said, "sure" and I parked my cart between her and the jewelry counter, at the front of the store. How long does it take to go out and get a wallet? Not very long. I imagine it was actually less than five minutes. I came back in and retrieved my cart and headed to the end of the line. As I was standing there I looked down and it seemed to me that something was missing. I counted all my items, and knew I had found 12, but only 11 were in the cart. Then I realized it: the cashmere sweater, my prized purchase of the day, was missing!

I got up to the counter and the cashier, trying to make conversation, said, "Hi, how are you today?" I am sure she didn't expect a real answer but I gave her one anyway because I was so annoyed. I said I was not doing very well because someone had taken a cashmere sweater out of my cart. She looked at me a bit wide eyed and asked very quietly, "Was it tan?" I was surprised that she asked this and I said yes. She told me she checked out a woman, and while she was checking out the next customer, a younger woman that she assumed was her daughter, the lady came back, threw a tan sweater onto the pile and told the younger woman to pay for it and she would pay her back. I was really annoyed and told her where my cart was and that I had asked the cashier on the end if I could leave it there. She must have gone by, saw the sweater, grabbed it and headed back to the cashier. I was so upset that day and felt I had actually been robbed. The cashier felt badly too, as though she was somehow part of this injustice! I assured her it wasn't HER fault. BUT then someone mentioned to me that the woman might have thought that was a cart of items to be re-shelved and that they were up for grabs. That was the only way that was emotionally healthy enough for me to resign myself that the sweater, my very first cashmere treasure, had been taken, and so that's what I will assume. BUT from that day on, I always head first to the men's department of the thrift store I am in, find a very large shirt, or coat and hook it to the seat in the cart, so that my treasures underneath will be concealed from prying eyes. Then before I go to the checkout, I put the shirt or coat back on the rack I got it from. Here's a photo so you can see what I mean.

The Potty Break Incident

The next time something happened because I wasn't guarding my cart was just a few days later. I went into a thrift store outlet (my favorite place to shop for eBay items) and I had put four items into my cart and realized I had to use the rest room. I parked my cart at the end of an aisle not far from the rest room, and was in the rest room for only a few minutes. When I returned, my cart was GONE! I thought at first that I just didn't remember where I had left it, so I wandered around a few aisles to see if I could find it, but it was nowhere in sight. Although it wasn't a full cart (thank goodness) those four items had taken me a half hour to find, so it was wasted time. I looked around at the carts nearby shoppers were using and my items weren't in them, so I decided to check a few of the racks and see if my items had been put back. Sure enough, there they were all hanging back on their original racks. The store was fairly busy so I was surprised the clerks had had the time to discover my unguarded cart and put the items back! I think I will make up a sign on an index card stating not to touch the cart and that I will be right back and keep it in my purse for just such occasions in the future. I mean, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go, right?!

After these two back to back incidents, I have certainly learned my lesson. When you have shopped at thrift stores, either for yourself, or to sell on eBay, have any of you had any trouble with items disappearing from your cart when shopping?


  1. Hi, Karen!

    First of all, I am sorry that you were the victim of unintentional thrift store "crime." I color this with humor because I absolutely empathize with your dismay over losing some great finds. That said, I now admit that a similar thing has happened in my treasure hunting experiences but from the reverse perspective.

    Yes, with egg on my face, I admit that I was an unintentional thrift store prowler.

    It happened while my wife and I were shopping at the fabulous suburban dumpster diving venue known as The Goodwill Outlet Store in Hillsboro, OR.

    I happened to be "between bins" in the huge warehouse when I spied a cart full of trash-to-treasure inventory parked near a bedroom dresser and mirror. No one was standing anywhere near it, so I understandably assumed that it had been either carelessly or intentionally left there by Goodwill employees. So I did what any treasure hunter would do--I started picking through it.

    In less than a minute, a red-faced and very irate man confronted me with a scowl accompanied by the gruffest voice he could muster up. I won't go into the details, but I definitely responded with my own version of macho mania and almost got into a fight. I feel rather stupid about the whole thing--hindsight definitely minimizes the original rush of adrenaline and whatever senior citizen testosterone I had remaining in my man cave reserves. Anyway, long story short, I walked out of there not much wiser but definitely committed to decreased reconnoitering around abandoned carts.