How I buy quality athletic wear without spending a fortune

If you’ve been running, working out, hiking, biking, climbing, paddleboarding, etc…for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly learned that the quality of your gear is important. And you undoubtedly also know that quality athletic wear is expensive. But don’t resign yourself to a ruined budget just yet – you can find even the most popular fitness brands at steep discounts, if you know where to look and have a little patience. While I don’t keep strict track, I’d estimate that I buy most of my athletic wear at 70% off or more. Here’s where I shop and how I find the best prices.

Local consignment stores

Your success with consignment stores will definitely vary depending on where you live. While I live in a small town, it’s also a very outdoorsy place, and both the regular consignment store and the outdoors consignment store have a decent selection of lightly used gear. And consignment stores have sale racks, too; every one I’ve been to has 50% off and $5 racks, and the one here occasionally puts out $1 racks as well. The main downside to consignment stores is that if you’re looking for something super specific you’re likely to be disappointed; that said, I did go into a local consignment store looking for the exact shoes in the pic below and found a brand new pair.

Some people are squicked out by the idea of wearing clothes a stranger has previously sweated in. If you’re one of those people, know that some things in consignment stores are brand new with the tags still on! (Though these are easier to find in online consignment; see the next section.) Also, most consignment stores are picky about what they accept, so they’ve probably already weeded out anything stinky or stained.

How to find quality athletic wear on the cheap

Online consignment and consignment-ish

Currently I’m having the best luck in online used clothes shopping on Poshmark and Mercari, which are both apps where anyone can list things for sale – thus consignment-ish. Use referral code GVGSR to sign up on Poshmark and get a $5 credit (I get $5 as well) and UUHHES on Mercari to get a $10 credit (I get $2). Poshmark has a much larger selection than Mercari, but prices on Mercari tend to be a bit lower. On both apps you can filter items by condition if, for example, you’re only interested in buying things that are brand new.

I haven’t had as much success finding activewear on actual consignment websites like ThredUp (referral code – we both get $10) and Swap, but I know some people love them. You can quickly sort by item type, size, and brand, so it’s always worth a quick look.

Finally, don’t forget about eBay – while popular items may sell for almost as much as retail price, you can often score older, less trendy, and/or off-season items super cheap. I recently paid ~$15 including shipping for a Lululemon jacket – likely because it’s summer and most people aren’t looking for jackets. The danger of eBay, of course, is that auctions can bring out your competitive side; set yourself a hard price limit when you start bidding on something.

Local super sales

This applies to both locally-owned stores and big chain sports/outdoors stores. Watch for those end-of-season sales, as well as local sales events; for example, our Downtown Business Association hosts a twice yearly “crazy days” event where all the downtown businesses hold sales – including the local running store and several outdoors retailers. I find these events to be good for snagging items that rarely go on sale, because some places will offer a blanket % off everything or almost everything.

And if you have an REI, don’t forget about their garage sales.

Brand websites

Online sale quality varies a lot from brand to brand; the best deals I find are when brands offer an extra % off their clearance section. I haven’t shopped every athletic brand’s website by a long shot, so I’m just sharing a couple I do shop here. Eddie Bauer regularly offers 40% off their entire site, clearance included. (They’re currently running a 30% of everything sale). Lucy does 30% off sale items, and sometimes 30% off everything (like right now!). Athleta sometimes has an extra 20% off sale items.

Discount sites

These sites offer past-season styles at steep discounts. Left Lane Sports and The Clymb both specialize in fitness and outdoor gear (both referral links; you get $10, I get $10). These sites work in pretty much the same way; they run daily sales that are generally 50-75% off, occasionally more. While the daily sales “expire” after 3 days, there’s also a selection of items that are always stocked on the site, and you can sometimes find things for 80-90% off.

Zulily is a more general discount site, but they run sales on almost any higher end fitness brand you can think of. Like Left Lane and The Clymb, they run sale events that only last a few days. Search for your favorite brands and “heart” them to get an email notification when they go on sale. And, FYI, today they have Smartwool on sale with some items over 50% off. If you’ve ever shopped for merino anything you know that’s basically a unicorn.

That website that’s taking over the world…

Not Google in this instance, Amazon. While they’re generally my last choice, Amazon has some random, absurdly steep discounts on quality athletic wear pieces – sometimes even on things that are still full price elsewhere. The super cheap pricing is usually only for 1 or 2 size/color combos, so you have to be a little lucky. And while I wish I had some tips for finding these deals, I’ve always just happened to stumble across them, so I guess you have to be doubly lucky. I do know those prices tend to jump back up within a day or two, so if you find one of these deals, grab it while you can.



Where do you find the best deals on athletic wear?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday & Coaches’ Corner Fit & Fashionable Friday

14 Comment

  1. Actually, I have great luck at Old Navy and Target, believe it or not. I’m not into “big labels” and am content with funky & colorful stuff regardless where it comes from (#truth) 😉 I have never looked at online consignments…afraid I’d get sucked in and never see the sun again (that’s also a #truth)
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Are YOU Race Day READY?My Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I have several tops from the Target clearance racks! Their bottoms just don’t fit me quite right though. You’re not wrong about the online consignment….

  2. Debbie says: Reply

    I second what Kimberly says, I’ve found good deals at Target especially. Stores like Marshalls and Ross often have brand name athletic wear for great prices.
    I subscribe to many of those discount sites, but I’ve never purchased anything from them. Except Amazon of course. I’ve scored great deals on running shoes there.
    Debbie recently posted…The Art of the Running Selfie: How to take photos that make you flyMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      We have Marshall’s and Ross, but I haven’t had much luck there – I think they send most of the good stuff to their bigger stores! I watch the discount sites for brands I like, but it’s pretty rare that I buy from them. I feel like I need to be buying multiple things to justify the shipping cost.

  3. Great post! I know so many people who love Poshmark. I’ve thought about selling there, but it seems like a lot of work for the seller. (I have a stack of gently worn stuff I’d like to get rid of.) Is ThredUp the place where they send you bags and you send them your stuff and they sell it? That’s more my speed, so I should look into that. I haven’t heard of the discount sites you mentioned so am curious to check them out.
    Jennifer @ Dashing in Style recently posted…How Bad Do I Want It?My Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I sell on Poshmark some too – listing is super quick once you get the hang of it, and they make the shipping labels for you. The part that can be kind of a time suck is if you don’t have a post office or drop box that’s convenient for you.

      Yeah, ThredUp sends you bags. I did that once and they gave me like $5 for a big bag….I’ve sent similar clothes to a different site (no longer in business) and got $20 or $30, so I probably wouldn’t try selling to ThredUp again.

  4. Amazon wouldn’t be my last choice! also has some good deals.

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      Did you know 6pm has their stuff listed on Amazon too? With prime shipping! I’m not sure if everything they sell is on Amazon, but a lot is.

  5. I’ve found quite a few gems at T.J.Maxx!

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      We don’t have a TJ Maxx – I’ve browsed their website but I think they have a lot that they don’t list there.

  6. Thanks for sharing these tips! I really need to get some workout/fitness clothes. I’m hoping to get back into dance this fall and it would be nice to have some specific outfits for that.


    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Dewey Fairchild, Parent Problem Solver: Author Interview + GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      I don’t know anything about dance clothes, but I’m sure you can find some good deals at some of these places!

  7. Farrah says: Reply

    Thanks for these tips! I’ve had lots of success with Old Navy, Ross, + TJ Maxx! 😛
    Farrah recently posted…Truffle Pesto Poached Egg ToastMy Profile

    1. Hannah says: Reply

      We have such tiny Ross and TJ here that they don’t have much 🙁

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