Thrift store shopping tips including how to thrift shop, what to look for at thrift stores and helpful tools to take with you while thrift store shopping.
I compiled a list of my top thrift store shopping tips for you, because thrifting is my life. OK, that might be pushing it a bit, but I do like to get my thrift on!
When I was a kid my mom dragged me into thrift stores kicking and screaming. It definitely wasn't my favorite place to hang out, because what 10 year old loves to look through piles of "old" clothes. At that point in time, I'd rather be playing Kick The Can with the neighborhood kids or just about anything other than shopping with my mom!
It wasn't until I was out of college and money was tight that I popped back into a thrift store to look for some deals on furniture for my first apartment. I started looking around and I FELL IN LOVE with all the cool stuff and all the cool prices!
If only I had realized how fun thrift store shopping could be when I was a kid!
So although I missed out on a good 15 years of thrift store shopping, I have more than made up for it since!
TOP TEN THRIFT STORE SHOPPING TIPS:
1) Keep your mind open
If you go in the thrift store looking for a vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera, then chances are you will be highly disappointed. You might not come away with exactly what you had been looking for, but there are still finds to be had so keep your eyes peeled and your mind open to new possibilities.
2) Go often
I have good days and I have bad days. Just because a store is a dud one day doesn't mean that a person isn't going to drop off a killer donation at that same store tomorrow.
3) Go early
But not necessarily when they first open. I find if I go first thing when they open the shelves are a little bare. You've got to give the employees a chance to get the newly donated items priced and onto the shelves.
4) You can find the best stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays
People will clean out their garages over the weekend and then drop off stuff to the thrift stores the first of the week. (Or if you are like me, keep it stored in the back of my van for a month or two and drop it off when I get tired of the crystal lamp rolling around back there). Late afternoon Mondays and Tuesdays are prime thrift store shopping time!
5) Location, location, location
I've found the best stuff in thrift stores in older neighborhoods. Older neighborhoods have older people and older people have the cool vintage stuff that I love (and to them it is just old stuff).
If you thrift for clothing and newer items, then maybe the thrift stores closer to the higher end neighborhoods would get you better results.
6) Avoid the fancy Goodwill stores
The ones that are filled with lots of new merchandise donated by stores. They have very few items donated by actual people and what they do have is very much curated by employees. Only the highest quality stuff makes it on the shelves. I prefer the thrift stores that pretty much put out anything that gets donated and let me decide if I want it or not!
7) Travel outside your normal area occasionally
Now with gas prices sky rocketing I won't be doing this too often, but I'll certainly stop by if I'm on that side of town for something else.
8) Be friendly and get to know your local thrift store employees
If you find a favorite thrift store and frequent it often, you'll get to know the workers. My local store workers have given me tips on when the best times to shop there are, alerted me to future sale days and have even dragged something out of the back room that they thought I'd like.
9) Once you know a thrift store, you can be in and out in 5 minutes
I know where to go to see what I am interested in. I don't dawdle. If they have nothing interesting that day I'm off to the next one down the road.
10) A bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or car is a good thing
Thrift stores do not clean things up or wash them prior to putting them on the shelves. I tend to pick stuff up to examine them, so my hands get a little grimy.
Speaking of hand sanitizer, I've made a list of things below I like to keep in my purse while out thrifting!
Bonus Thrift Store Shopping Tips:
11) Bring some cash
Not all thrift stores accept credit cards. I know it's hard to believe, but I find some of the smaller, mom and pop thrifts are cash only! And you do not want to be out of cash when you find that mid-century modern sofa of your dreams.
12)Beware of impulse buys
We've all been there. You see a really cool vintage thermos that you want to buy, but do you really need another thermos for your collection? Of course you do!
13)Wear appropriate clothing
If you are shopping for clothing, remember that not all thrift stores have dressing rooms, so wear something form fitting so that you can easily try on other clothing over what you're wearing.
What To Look For At Thrift Stores:
- Anything jadeite
- Vintage globes
- Anything Mid-Century Modern - furniture, bar ware or clothing
- Colorful Pyrex pieces
- Vintage luggage
- Vintage cameras
- Cool looking vintage typewriters
- Paint By Number paintings
- Classic vintage thermoses
- Hudson Bay Point Blankets
Things To Bring With You When Thrift Store Shopping:
- Tape Measure to measure that piece of furniture to make sure it will fit in your space at home
- Flashlight to examine the items more closely
- Screwdriver in case you need to remove a mirror or legs from a piece of furniture
- Batteries to test to see if those battery operated items still work
- Hand Sanitizer to keep yourself clean and tidy
- Jewelers Loupe to inspect items for maker's marks and to inspect jewelry
- Magnets to test for sterling silver - magnets generally do not stick to sterling, but would stick to silverplate
- Old Blanket Or Towel to line your trunk for when you find that HUGE piece of furniture
Have fun and get out and enjoy some thrifting.
What about you, do you have any thrift store tips to add?
Other related posts:
- Interested in having your own yard sale with all your thrift store hauls? Run over and check out my 40 Yard Sale Tips For A Killer Sale (my readers are always adding more tips to the list, so if I'm missing something let me know and I'll add it).
- In A Letter To All Thrift Store Workers I discuss a little thrift store pet peeve of mine.
- And I let you in on what I've looking for at yard sales this year in my Top 5 Things To Look For At Yard Sales This Year
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