16 Tips to Thrifting
Me + thrift store = love x savings.
All of my friends know me well. When I call and say, “Hey, you want to go out tomorrow?” they know that equates to giddily perusing though several thrift stores, hitting yard sales, or picking up stuff from Freecycle. Some decline unless I include lunch; others are as game as me.
Over time, I have found some tips that work for me while do my thrift store runs.
1. Have a budget. I find that if I determine a maximum amount I can spend, it helps me be more decisive on my purchases.
2. Make sure your phone is fully charged. When I come across something and think it may have some value, I do a quick Google, eBay or Etsy search for the manufacturer and a price check.
3. Flip it. Sometimes you may not want the item for yourself, but it’s a great resale item. For example, I have bought men’s leather shoes for $5.00 and sold them on eBay for $30.00. Use tip #2 to give you an idea of how much you could possibly make on an item.
4. Know when stores restock and change the tags. My local Goodwill has 50% off on two colors weekly. They change the colors on Sundays and restock on Sundays and Wednesdays. I’m always there bright and early those days.
5. Develop a rapport with the staff. I have found that being friendly is always a good thing. Sometimes the staff will hold something for me or they will look for a particular item for me and set it aside if I call. This keeps me from losing out on something I really want and from making unnecessary trips.
6. If you think you want it, PUT IT IN YOUR CART! You can always make your final decision at the register. I can tell you a few sad stories of being in line, seeing that baking dish or lamp in someone else’s cart and really wishing it was in mine.
7. Take advantage of discounts. Most stores offer student, senior and military discounts. Many stores also have a punch card program and after ten purchases you get 20% off on your next visit. I try to save that 20% for bigger purchases like furniture.
8. Know what you like. My girls immediately hit the clothing section looking for Anthropologie, Forever 21, H&M and Hot Topic items. I roll my cart straight to the picture section and look for artwork and frames, then I hit housewares and books. (I am a bit peeved they have removed the book section at one store and replaced it with VHS tapes of all things!)
9. Shop often. I tend to go weekly, but if I’m in the area on my off day I will make quick stop to see if anything catches my eye.
10. Look beyond first impressions. I often find items that seem beyond cleaning, lamps with hideous shades, or damaged picture frames, etc. With a little elbow grease, a coat of paint and a vision, you end up with something useful & beautiful.
11. Bring a measuring tape. You don’t want to buy shades that won’t fit your windows or a chair that is too big for your space. Measure things at home and keep a list with you. Then when you see an item you like, you can measure it to see if it fits. No wasting money on something you can’t use..
12.Start a collection. One classic piece of white serving ware started my collection, and I look for more each time I go out. I now have about twenty quality pieces that would work nicely on any occasion, even though they are a not a matched set.
13. Be eco-friendly and bring your re-usable shopping bags to the store. There is nothing worse than carrying out glassware in flimsy plastic bags you will toss as soon as you get home.
14. Recycle. Keep the cycle going by bringing your unused items to the thrift store. It will also make room for all your new purchases.
15. Go around the store at least twice. Sometimes your eye may overlook something, so I tend to go around the store more then once, Plus people tend to put things back down and in the wrong section to boot, so glance top and bottom and in attended carts.
16. Enjoy the process. Thrifting should be enjoyable. Don’t always think you will get the deal of the century. Sometime it’s just a good deal on something functional, like basic white dishes.
On a side note, a couple of benefits of thrifting are that you’re often helping out a good cause and you’re being earth-friendly. Check out this infographic for more benefits of second-hand shopping.