Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guide to Thrifting

Things I've Found in the Past Week for About $11 Total

If you're a Nerfer on a budget, then the cheapest way for you to build up a collection outside of someone just giving you blasters is through thrifting. It is possible to get blasters for a fraction of a price they'd go for in retail stores. This is a general guide to make thrifting easier for everyone.

First, you need to understand the hidden cost to thrifting; gas. In essence, you pay your gas cost for the chance to get something for cheap. With gas prices where they are, a thrift store only 15 minutes away could cost $1-2 per trip. That doesn't sound like much, but if you go every day for a week, that's possibly $10 you're spending just for the chance to find something. Finding a Nitefinder for $1 doesn't seem so great when you spent $10 to get it.

Costs are relative, however, and there are plenty of ways you can cut yours down. The best way is to find a grouping of thrift stores. Hitting multiple thrift stores within a five mile radius of each other not only increases your chances of finding something, it also decreases the relative cost of gas to go to each one.

Finding a grouping can be tough and there may not be one all that close to where you live. In that case, plan to visit your grouping when other errands take you to the area. Making a five mile detour while your already out is cheaper than driving the 20 miles it would take to drive out there and back.

When you find your grouping and visit it for the first time, you may want to consider rating your thrift stores. You may find that your grouping consists of too many thrift stores than your time would allow, or they may be spread out intermittently over a large area. In any case, you'll probably want to rule out some thrift stores and skip them on your next run. Some things to consider are:

How large is the Toy Section?
Almost every thrift store has a section for toys and you can judge the relative probability of finding something based on how much space they devote to them. Thrifting is a numbers game at its core and the more stuff that comes through, the greater chance there is that some of it is Nerf.

Have you had Success Before?
While not necessarily a great indicator, finding something once means that the store definitely does get those kinds of donations. I have two Goodwills near me; both get about the same number of donations, but one almost always has something while the other rarely has anything.

Is it Close to the Others?
You might find that in your grouping, there is one store that is further away from the others or that it's located in a place that makes it awkward to get to. You might decide to skip it totally or maybe just to go less frequently.

Remember, just because you haven't found anything doesn't mean they won't get anything and just because you found something once doesn't mean that they'll always have something. Again, thrifting is a numbers game; you can stack the probabilities in your favor, but at the end of the day it's mostly dumb luck.


  1. No how good you look for blaster, sometimes you cannot overcome the, well, badness of your location.

    from my thrifting in tallahssee and limited thrifting in Miami, not much has ever been found and from the workers I talked to, not much really comes in and stays in for long.

    I've kinda given up on thrifting for now sadly. It never really panned out :(

  2. I highly recommend checking Ebay as well. Thrift stores are great, but I've found a good number of deals on Ebay. My current Alpha Trooper which is my HvZ primary was only $10 on Ebay. Just some food for thought.

  3. Luckily enough, I have three thrift stores on my drive home from work every day. There is one more factor in thrifting to consider. Where does the stores merchandise come from?

    Goodwill stores get all merch from on site donations, so it is best to go to ones in upper middle class neighborhoods where people are more likely to donate toys than re-sell them.

    Salvation Army gets their stuff from a distribution center. The center sends items to where they think it will sell best. Once again, look in better neighborhoods.

    When looking at non-chain stores, look for family frequented stores.

    They will often have more vintage items, and will only take better quality items for their stores. Most of them will not sell an item unless it has all parts (darts). Talk to the store operator and tell them that you will buy dart guns without darts, and ask them to keep your number for when they come in. I currently have two shops doing the hunting for me.

    Well that's my two cents. Thanks Drac for all the entertainment and inspiration. Look forward to an awesome blog with Mired Thoughts. Hope to do a trade with ya Ma-Fahkoos sometime. MMFWCL

  4. Hi i live in canada do you know any thrift store names.

  5. Also what is the best thrift store for nerfing youve been to

  6. In Utah here they have 5 thrift stores called Deseret Industries, within short distance of each other. All the donations are on-site donations, mostly being second hand items.
    Toy section is moderately well stocked in all 5 stores, but because they have a large frequency of customers Nerf blasters are on and off the shelves extremely quick, and you basically have to be there as they bring out stuff for the shelves, which happens a large number of times a day.
    The best part about these thrift stores is that I've never paid more than $3 for a blaster, and I've come away with more than my fair share of recons, as well as longstrikes, raiders, etc... and I was talking to an employee who saw someone walk out with a Vulcan for $5.
    So cheap prices, almost always finding something, and good locality have led me to picking up over 90 blasters in my current armory, in less than a year.

  7. Now, would goodwills be a good resource for thrifting? i live in Washington state and that is really all i can find here.

    1. It depends on the community your Goodwill is in. One of the Goodwills in Toledo gets donations from the more upscale neighborhoods, and therefore get more blasters, however, the other one I frequent, being in a generally poorer part of town, gets a significantly reduced number of blaster donations, as well as a reduced quality of the ones donated., However, the opposite is true of all the children's resale shops in both the areas. I think it's because of the ability to receive money for their items. But, it's a crapshoot no matter which way you slice it.