In today's article about thrift stores going mainstream (some would say upscale), I mention that Salvation Army and other thrifts are selling new items purchased from retailers. Many of the items are returns, including flat panel TVs from electronics retailers.
I went to the Salvation Army store at 900 N. 4th St. in Minneapolis to check its TV selection. Nine models were on display on Monday, including 32", 40". 42", and 47". Prices ranged from $249 to $899. With my smartphone Red Laser app aimed at the bar codes on the boxes behind the TVs, I discovered that most, but not all of Salvation Army's prices are lower than online. Here's a list of the models I saw on display in the lower level. Other locations may have different models.
LG 32" LK330 model. Salvation Army's price: $249. Lowest online price: $235 at Secondipity.
Samsung 40" model UN40EH5050F. Salvation Army's price $560. Lowest online price: $528 at Samsclub.com.
LG 42' model CS560. Salvation Army's price $389. Lowest online price $449 on eBay (new).
LG 42" model LK520: Salvation Army's price: $499. Lowest online price $560 at Overstock.com.
LG 47" model LW500. Salvation Army's price: $899. Lowest price online: $734 at Supplysale.com.
LG 47" model LK520. Salvation Army's price: $599. Lowest price online: $597 at Planet73.com (refurbished).
When I told a Salvation Army salesperson that the price for the LG 47-inch TV (model LW500) was $150 lower online, he said that I could ask the manager for a price adjustment. That's good to know if you'd rather not buy online. It's also a good reason to always comparison shop, even at Salvation Army, where one would expect rock bottom prices. I never expected to be using my Smartphone app at Salvation Army but the As Is department in the basement has a large supply of small appliances in boxes (humidifiers, popcorn poppers, de-humidifiers, toasters) that make price scanning easy. It's all part of thrift stores' upgrades to attract middle class shoppers.
Before buying a TV at Salvation Army, be sure to ask about returns for defective merchandise. All of the sets on display were switched on for anyone to view, but there may be issues discovered after you get it home.