I stopped by a nearby base thrift shop yesterday in search of a particular item for a Halloween costume. I've shopped at this thrift shop before, and found a few good items, but I had forgotten what an amazing bargain the base thrift shops can be.
Before I get started, I should probably mention that most base thrift shops are open to all ranks, and many allow civilians to shop there as well. Be sure to check with your particular store, but don't be shy. I've heard people say that they can't shop at the thrift shop because they are beyond a particular paygrade. In 99% of the cases, that isn't true.
On to my shopping story! In addition to the Halloween costume parts I needed, I was able to get through most of the women's pants and skirts before closing time arrived. I found several nice items, in great brands, and was delighted to discover that they were only $1 each. Now I won't be wearing the same pair of pants all winter! I've shopped at thrift shops on five or six bases over the years, and they've always been wonderful. A few years back, I got nearly my entire summer wardrobe for about $20 at one sale. Better yet, I redonated the same items back to the shop when my size changed (again!) It was almost like renting the clothes.
Most base thrift shops are operated by the services' relief society or by the base spouses' club, and proceeds benefit military families. In addition to clothing, they often sell uniform items, household goods, and children's clothes and toys (Whoohoo!). I still have a hard time convincing my husband that it is OK to buy uniforms from the thrift shop, but for seldom-worn (and expensive) items, he can be persuaded. I just can't justify spending a bunch of money on a particular dressy uniform item that he may never need again, or that won't fit right when it is next needed.
Your base thrift shop is a great place to give and shop. If you haven't been before, I suggest you find out their hours (usually limited) and check it out next time you are in the area. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.