The goodwill bins. 'Nuff said.
Ok, maybe a little elaboration is in order. We try to make a trip to the Goodwill bins whenever we are down in Portland (or Vancouver, Wa). If you have not heard of, or never been to the bins, then you are seriously missing out on one of the greatest experiences in thriftiness. We filled an entire shopping cart full, to the point stuff was falling over the sides, to the tune of <$70. We got an REI Half Dome tent (complete w/footprint) and clothes for everyone in the house, our neighbors daughter and some other friends and family members as well. Once you collect enough goods to crest the twenty pound mark, it sells for $.89 lb.
The experience of going into the place is worth it even if you do not buy anything. Just to see the piles of items in row upon row of rolling tables with raised sides that give the place its name. It is funny to watch as the employees take away a row of tables and people start lining up in anticipation of the "new" row being brought in. Once the final table in the row is put in place, the frenzy begins. People throwing things out of their way and digging through the endless piles of "unwanted" goods. It is amazing to watch. The more seasoned professionals wear latex gloves (we've done that a few times, but opt now for a good washing of hands before we leave).
The kids get the brands that seem important to them right now, we get to pay cents on the dollar, and occasionally we strike a gold mine of stuff from someones closet. This last trip yielded some very nice outdoorsy clothing; REI, Columbia Sportswear and Land's End to name a few. I even found a pair of ridiculously expensive jeans, Reo Starr's that sell for >$175, and I will throw them on craigslist for $20 and recoup a few bucks.
Thrift can be fun, and the bins is the place to maximize your return.