After the successful conclusion of my part in the Craft for My Kids swap, it took me about five seconds to sign up for the Bargain Hunters swap. Basically, I have a budget of ten dollars, with which I am to find as much awesome stuff that my partner will love as humanly possible, and with which I am also to make her a good-sized craft. After a slight misunderstanding in which I thought for a couple of days that she ONLY wanted decorative wooden boxes, we are now on the same page and I realize that she is going to be fun, fun, fun to shop for.
I have to say, I am going to be GOOD at this swap. In case you're local, here are the places to hunt bargains in my town:
1. Post-season at Target and Jo-Ann's, when holiday stuff gets marked down to 75% off (in late January, Target will mark Christmas stuff down to 90% off, but you have to be watching for it, because it gets picked over fast). These are good places to buy twinkle lights to make your house look awesome, shaped molds for soap or crayons, goth stuff or costume stuff or face painting stuff, etc.
2. Goodwill at two locations, the College Mall one being more of the college student Goodwill, and the much bigger west-side Goodwill being the townie store. Frankly, I find Goodwill a little pricey--a T-shirt there is two dollars. Two dollars! However, each week a different colored tag is 50% off, and the tag color changes on Sunday, so if you go Sunday or Monday, you get the best pick at the half-off goods. These are good stores for board games for jewelry or altered books; sheets, pillowcases, and blankets with which to sew; china for mosaics or jewelry; and themed T-shirts for a quilt.
3. Salvation Army--this store is dirt-cheap, with one tag color being half-off each week and one tag color being 25 cents, and another clearance rack up front at 25 cents. I recently got a ton of wool sweaters there for 25 cents, including one with dinosaurs(!) intarsia knitted in. Their selection of adult T-shirts and adult jeans sucks, however, and they only take cash or check. This is a good store for wool sweaters for felting, record albums for record bowls and album cover boxes, weird children's picturebooks for framing or altered books, and I bought Willow an awesome pair of rollerblades there for two dollars once.
4. Dumpster behind the Salvation Army, which is my all-time favorite place to dumpster-dive, on account of the Salvation Army closes at 6:00 pm on Saturdays and doesn't open until 9:00 am on Mondays. All weekend people come by the loading dock and either dump stuff off or pick through stuff. We usually go by on Sunday afternoons after my partner's softball games, and if it's a rainy day and we don't go, I feel sad. The pro about this place is that it's totally free; the con is that it's technically illegal. This place is good for children's clothes and toys, books, clothes with unusual patterns for sewing, work shirts for my partner, and just really odd stuff. Yesterday we found a six-foot artificial tree, which we took, a huge blonde wig in a Kroger bag upon which someone had written, "NEVER BEEN WORN," which we did not take, several puzzles--still sealed--of dogs or cats or elephants, some of which we took (the girls and I have been working/crawling over and rolling in and throwing around the dog puzzle off and on all day), two wool sweaters, which we took, one orange work shirt for Matt, which we took but it's a little too short so we're taking it back next week, and several still-packaged little hearts that are supposed to grow 600% when you immerse them in water, one of which we took and which is now sitting in a glass of water on the bathroom sink right now.
5. Our Recycling Center (which is the most terrific Recycling Center in the nation, as it recycles plastics #1-#6, including bags, offers donation drop-offs for a billion different items from shoes to bottle caps, and encourages you to drop off materials that they can donate to children's art programs) has a sidewalk exchange, where you can drop off stuff you no longer want but is still good (no electronics!) and which you can visit once a week and take up to four items per person. The girls and I bring a bag of stuff here about every week, and take in turn a bag of stuff. This place is good for records, magazines, Nintendo stuff, jeans for denim quilts, and children's stuff. I usually leave Sydney in the car here, since the exchange is right in front of the parking spaces, and Willow's special job is to choose a toy for Sydney and a toy for herself.
Where do you bargain hunt where you live?