Just because you are buying items for your religious practice, does not mean you have to take your consumer glasses off. The same common sense and discernment used for making other shopping decisions will work for buying items for your pagan practice.
Dollar Store, Unclaimed Freight, Surplus
All of the above are stores that will have a hodgepodge of random items. While you probably won’t find the statue of Thor you were eying (unless it is the Marvel figure) there are plenty of other useful mundane items. It is a bit like treasure hunting (similar to thrift stores) but all it takes is striking gold once to keep coming back.
I have had plenty of luck finding candle holders, craft supplies for making your own items, (more on that next blog post), notebooks, glass containers, and baskets. A lot of what could be said for the thrift store can be said for dollar and surplus stores, and the same basic concept applies: see what’s there that strikes your eye and think of how you can change it to suit your needs.
The one caution would be buying Dollar Store candles or incense. What you burn you will breathe in through the air, and cheap candles or incense will be made of cheap materials that aren’t good for anyone to breathe in. If there is anyone in your household with asthma, allergies, or sensitivity, it would be better to skip the Dollar Store and either spend more to get a good quality candle or use an electric candle.
End of Season Clearance
Raid the clearance section, without fail. The best time is when items from one season are being cleared out for another season/holiday. After Halloween there is a lot of black and orange candles and spooky décor (tablecloths, candle holders, candy dishes). I got a set of skull name card holders for entertaining and one of them is on my altar for Hel and holding a bumper sticker. (No one says you can’t be practical.) If you work with any god with a death aspect, there are plenty of skull or skeleton items. Also be on the lookout for ravens.
After Christmas there are a lot of red and green candles, most often scented. There is also leafy décor items and nice candle holders. After Valentine’s Day you can find red candles, perfumes, and chocolate that can make excellent offerings. There might be a short fall period after Halloween that is being taken over by Christmas (boo) but that is a good time to find fall themed centerpieces and anything Pumpkin Spice. St Patrick’s Day and Easter both have a distinct Spring festival feel, and there are lot of pastel items, green stuff, cute animals, and candy dishes. Summer holidays tend to patriotic but also low on décor, but you will find red white and blue items.
One year at the end of fall, I went to a home décor store and found a set of six candles—two red, two orange, and two green. They also came in a nice candle box which I still use for storing candles today.
Craft stores can also have great deals on the last holiday items, especially décor and centerpieces, but I will talk about those in more detail in a later post.
Everyone loves coupons. Many stores will offer coupons for signing up on an email list. This will also let you be notified of sales. You can also check social media to see what and when sales happen.
Understanding the rhythms of the retail calendar will help save money. Dollar Stores in general will follow roughly the same seasonal schedule, but unclaimed freight and the rest are going to be far more random. Hidden gems can be often found by those who know where to look.