I have seen lots of articles on shopping thrift stores. Heck, I have one of my own. There is a lot of the same advice out there about shopping at thrift stores and saving the most money, but what about thrift store tips that may not have much to do with saving money entirely but also about the adventure of doing it and how to get the best quality? I shop at thrift stores several times a month and have become somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert in it so I wanted to share my best tips for thrift store shopping that you may have not even heard yet. Think of it as getting extra advice from someone who learned the hard way in some cases.
Thrift Store Tips You Haven’t Heard Yet
Shop on vacation– My husband and I always make a stop at the local Goodwill or other thrift store when we go on day trips out of town. This is because different places have different things based on stores (such as those at malls and shopping centers) in the area and also based on how large the town is. Did you know that Goodwill ships stuff to small towns to help them keep their shelves new and refreshed? This means you will often find amazing things in small towns that are not picked over yet. Some of the best things I have ever found (such as a diffuser for essential oils worth 50+ dollars!) came from small town thrift stores while I was on a day trip.
Always try clothing on (and not to just see if it fits)– You probably already know you should try on thrift store clothes to see if they fit before you buy them, but this should also be done for another reason; to check for damage. I try on clothing because it is easier to find holes, weakened areas of fabric and missing buttons this way.
Keep a running list of items you are searching for– Since I do a good amount of my household shopping at thrift stores I have learned that it’s a good idea to keep a list of things I am specifically looking for so I don’t forget on my frequent trips. I have it saved in my notes on my phone, but you could make a list in other apps or even with screenshots saved in a folder of items you find online.
Shop on a Tuesday or Wednesday– Weekends are one of the worst days to shop thrift stores. They often won’t have specials (and if they do, they will be too busy and picked over), and since there are more eyes looking on the shelves, you won’t have a chance to really look and find the best treasures. Instead, try to go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. It’s after the weekend rush, and on Monday, most stores restock the shelves. Plus, there are less people there mid-week. You will have a much better chance at finding something.
Think outside the box- If you are a DIYer, your mind probably already works this way. Look for things in the home area and even in the clothing section that you can repourpose. Go in with creative juices ready and you may walk out with something that is perfect for that one organizing project you were hoping to do or that craft you were just missing something from.
Shop often enough at a few stores and you may get special deals– I frequent several stores in town often enough that I am known by the staff now. Because of this, I often get some VIP treatment and they offer me sales, coupons, and discounts much easier, often without me even asking. Plus, they know the kind of things I buy and often tell me when they have something they think I will like in back.
Donate and save even more– I donate to my local stores that offer coupons for donations. One place I go to gives stamps for each box/bag/large item donated. Each stamp gets you 5% off, up to 30% off. Plus, they offer a savings program for frequent shoppers. By donating, I make room for new treasures and I save in the process on them.
Be leery of brand new items– Many people think they have really scored on new items at thrift stores, but you often need to be cautious. I say this because I have frequently seen brand new items for close to retail price. As far as I;m concerned, if its at a thrift store I want to be saving at LEAST 75% on it. Look up brand new items on Amazon or the store they come from (such as Target) and check prices. If they aren’t in line with a good deal, try haggling with a store manager. Additionally, with new items you should look out for missing parts. Plug items in to check if they work. Feel seams on clothing to make sure they aren’t ripped.
Look up unknown brands– You may not know some of the brands in thrift stores, but looking them up can help you spot amazing deals hidden. Often, the people doing the pricing don’t know expensive brands, either, so this is how to get the best treasures. Keep your phone handy! I often find stuff that’s like 90% off the price of the item new this way in excellent shape.