10 Best Thrift Store Tips for Beginners
I come from a long line of garage salers and trash pickers. My kids dumpster dived on the weekends for entertainment. My youngest played with Fisher-Price toys bought from the thrift store. All of this drove my retail-oriented husband slightly crazy. He thought the goal was to buy something at full price and feel good that you could afford it. It took me a long time to convert him to the real goal – buying something for almost nothing. He is now my best shopping partner. We’ve scored a like-new Carhartt jacket for $1, a sleeping bag for $2, his favorite aluminum lawn chair for $0.50, and oodles of great tools for next to nothing. Thrift stores are great because you don’t have to wait for the weekend to hunt for bargains.
10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores:
- Get to know the thrift stores in your area and visit them regularly. Some thrift stores get more furniture, some more clothing or dishes. Plus I know people who work at some of my local thrift stores and they can be so helpful at alerting you when special items come in. Independent thrift stores are great but don’t overlook the chains. Saver’s is one of my all-time favorite thrift store chains. It is clean, well organized, and they put out tons of new merchandise every single day.
- Check Yelp to find thrift stores and read the reviews. In SoCal our thrift stores have gotten pricier and pricier. On Yelp you can find out which thrift stores sell clothes by the bag, have sales, etc.
- Sign up on-line to be notified of sales.
- Visit thrift stores when you travel. I always google local thrift stores when I’m traveling and have come home with many thrift store souvenirs. I especially loved the charity shops in the UK. A friend who was a hospice nurse always mapped out the local shops when she worked in a new area. Her whole house is furnished in the most amazing thrift store finds.
- Donate to thrift stores. There is always good karma that comes from donating but you also might score a discount coupon for donating.
- Work the sales. Most thrift stores have different colored tags on sale each day – sometimes even two colors are on sale a day. Check to see which color tags are on sale before you start shopping.
- Shop with a partner. Two sets of eyes are better than one. I can’t tell you how many times my shopping partner has found a treasure for me that I might have missed. Plus your shopping partner can give their opinion when you are trying on clothes. My daughter-in-law Meghan is one of my favorite shopping companions. We are both bosomy and help each other out finding clothes that fit.
- Work the racks and keep an open mind. Go for quality AND quantity. Sizing is all over the place these days so don’t limit yourself to what size you think you wear. Be prepared to try on lots of things.
- Quality Control – Take a few moments to check over your potential purchases before committing to them. Are there missing buttons, picks in the fabric, pilling, or stains that might not come out with washing? Are there any chips in the dishes or missing game pieces? Some flaws are worth it. I bought a beautiful metallic bronze crocheted sweater that had a hole under the arm and my sweet mom crocheted it back together and I’ve been wearing it for years. I’m willing to replace a full set of buttons if one is missing but I am not willing to replace a zipper. Here I am wearing my beloved metallic bronze sweater.
- Refashioning clothes and upcycling furniture are huge these days. I follow a lot of blogs for both. It helps you look at some of your ugly duckling thrift store finds in a new light. The most amazing things can be done with upcycling. Follow my Refashionista and Salvage Upcycle boards on Pinterest for some great ideas.
And Always Remember – Keep Bargain Shopping Campers~