14 Tips for Thrifting Like a Pro and Scoring The Best Deals

Thrifting is no longer something that only your grandmother and frugal fashionistas do. Nowadays, it’s a great way to save money on quality clothing and other treasures. Celebrity endorsements have also made it more popular, with artists like Macklemore singing about thrift shops.

If you’re ready to “pop some tags” and find your next fun fashion statement or treasure, here are 14 expert tips for thrifting like a pro and scoring the best deals.

Thrift Store Interior Thrifting Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Why Thrifting Is So Popular

The art of thrifting has become a fun activity for all ages and budget sizes. People love the thrill of finding a rare piece of clothing, vintage items, or something valuable. Since most thrift stores get their inventory from donations, you never know what kind of finds you’ll uncover.

These days, you can also thrift from your phone or computer, too. With online resale communities, you can score everything from designer items to everyday basics from home.

Reasons To Go Thrifting Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The Awesome Benefits of Thrifting

Other than being fun, thrifting has many other great benefits.

  • Eco-Friendly: Thrifting is a sustainable way to enjoy fashion or furniture in new ways as you recycle existing items rather than creating more demand for newly manufactured pieces from fast fashion brands.
  • Find Unique Pieces: Thrift stores often have one-of-a-kind items that no one else will have. So if you’re looking for a unique find, thrifting is the perfect solution.
  • Affordable Prices and Great Deals: One of the biggest draws to thrifting is the incredibly low prices. You can pick up some excellent items for a fraction of the cost without breaking the bank.
  • Find Items to Upcycle: Thrift stores are full of exciting items that can be upcycled and given a new life, such as furniture, craft items, and more.
  • Resale Potential: Thrifting can also be a way to make money. Many people love flipping their thrift store finds and reselling them at a higher price on sites like eBay, Mercari, or Etsy.

Ways To Go Thrifting

While a thrift store might be the first thing that comes to mind, there are many ways to shop for used items. These include:

  • Second-hand stores (Good Will, Savers, Salvation Army, etc.)
  • Vintage boutiques, used clothing, or consignment stores
  • Garage sales (online or physical)
  • Flea markets
  • Estate sales
  • Online marketplaces (Facebook, Mercari, Poshmark, eBay, etc.)

At these stores, you can find brand items (new, never used, sometimes with the tags still on) to gently used items.

The Best Items To Find at a Thrift Store

A thrift store full of stuff can feel overwhelming for a new shopper. Before you go, remember the best items to search for in thrift stores. While it will vary from store to store, these are generally the categories that offer the best value and function.

  • Kid’s Clothing: Kids quickly outgrow, rip, and stain their clothes. You’ll find great options if you want name-brand clothes, play clothes, or a few items free of stains and rips.
  • Furniture: Look in the furniture section for unique finds and statement pieces. This might include vintage pieces or cheap options you can upcycle to bring new life.
  • Kitchen Items: You can often find vintage kitchenware, small appliances, cookware, and other housewares at bargain prices.  Even kitchen cabinets for the remodel of your budget dreams!
  • Books/Records/CDs: If you’re a reader, collector, or music enthusiast, check out the books and media sections for interesting finds.
  • Jewelry: To find antique jewelry or costume pieces, check the costume jewelry section of the store. You can also find vintage watches here as well.
  • Shoes: Shoes are one of the most popular thrift store items. Look for gently worn shoes to find some of the best deals.
  • Accessories and Jewelry: Look for vintage pieces like hats, scarves, belts, and handbags. And if you’re into costume jewelry, you can often find great deals on necklaces and earrings.
  • 14 Tips For Scoring The Best Thrifting Deals Finding Items On A Clothes Rack Shutterstock
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

14 Tips for Scoring The Best Thrifting Deals

With all the basics in mind, these tips will be a great starting point for helping you become a master thrifter.

1. The Golden Rule: Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Thrifting is supposed to be a fun experience, so remember to have fun! You should feel like a pirate on the hunt for your buried treasure.

2. Don’t Get Too Carried Away

Going to a thrift store with a shopping list is challenging since you never know what they’ll have. However, going to the store with a few general ideas will prevent impulse buys for things you don’t need.

It helps to arrive at a budget and a few items you’d like to consider if they are available. Plus, if it’s more than you’re willing to spend, don’t buy it! That way, you will be okay with your purchase later.

3. Consider Setting a Time Limit

When you enter the store, set a time limit to avoid getting stuck in thrifting land for too long. This will also help you stay focused and prevent impulse buys.

4. Explore All of Your Store Options

Not all stores are created equally. There are many stores out there offering different things. One may have better deals on a specific item you like to shop for than another. Try to explore all the different thrifting options in your area and find which store is the best fit for you.

On the other hand, if you live in a small town without thrifting options, you can explore your online options or plan a fun shopping day in a bigger city nearby.

5. Take It One Section at a Time

When you enter the store, don’t let it overwhelm you! Take it one section at a time. For example, you could start with the clothing area and pick some of your favorite items. Then move to furniture and accessories.

Consider sticking to one or two sections, depending on what you’re looking for.

6. Shop on Restock Days

Many thrift stores have a specific day (or two) of the week when they restock their shelves. These days are the best for finding new items and getting the best deals.

7. Get Inspired Before You Go

To make your shopping experience more fun and productive, explore some thrifting blogs for outfit ideas, upcycling, and other unique item ideas. This will help you stay focused on the items you’re looking for.

8. Put Your Creative Hat On

When thrifting, it helps to have an open mind and get creative. You never know what you might find that could spark a new idea for a project.

9. Consider Setting a Time Limit

When you enter the store, set a time limit for yourself. This will help you stay focused and prevent impulse buys.

10. Figure Out Sales Days

Most thrift stores also have certain days when they offer discounts or special sales. Keep an eye out for these and plan accordingly. For example, some Good Wills have certain colors on sale on specific days of the week. Traditional sales days like Black Friday or Veteran’s Day might also offer additional discounts.

11. Know What’s Worth The Money

Some items are worth paying more for, while others may not be. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of good deals and buy more worn things than you realize.

Always pay close attention to quality and wear. Test toys and electronics and double-check that all parts are included. For clothing and shoes, look for stains that’ll likely not come out, holes, and signs of wear.

You can also download apps or do your own quick market research on places like eBay or Amazon to see what the item you find is worth new and used.

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle

This option depends on the store and your personality. Some thrift stores allow you to haggle for a better deal, so feel free to ask if it interests you, especially if the item is damaged and needs some repair.

13. Don’t Forget To Use All Your Discounts

Many stores offer student discounts, senior citizen discounts, or other special offers. Remember to ask about these before you start shopping. Different thrift stores may offer discounts for signing up for their email newsletter, loyalty rewards, or a bonus discount for donating items.

14. Shop Online When You Need Something Specific

Try shopping online when looking for a particular item or need something quickly. Many online thrift stores and marketplaces offer quality used items at affordable prices. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of going to a physical store or finding parking.

The Seven Types of Thrifters

Now that you know where to shop and how to score the best deals, you’ll likely discover just how fun thrifting can be. Once they get the hang of it and realize the savings potential, many thrifters shop almost exclusively this way.

You might even become one of these six distinct types of thrifters:

  1. The Resellers: These thrifters seek items to resell for profit. They often specialize in one or two areas and have an eye for vintage, designer, and collectible items. One of the most popular items for resale is shoes.
  2. The DIYers: These thrifters love to upcycle or repurpose items they find at the thrift store. They often specialize in furniture, clothing, and other things they can transform into something new with creativity. They might also be looking for their next piece for home decor or a design project.
  3. The Stylists and Treasure Finders: These thrifters seek unique items to create fashion statements. They often specialize in clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories that add an exciting twist to a basic outfit.
  4. The Collectors: These are the hobbyists who collect certain items. This thrifter category often specializes in vintage toys, rare books, or antique furniture that may be challenging to find anywhere else.
  5. The Occasional Thrifters: These are the people who may only thrift occasionally.
  6. The Savers: These thrifters seek out items to save money. They often specialize in basics like clothing, household items, and books. They may also look for things that can be repaired and reused.
  7. The Eco-Warriors: These thrifters seek items that are sustainable and eco-friendly. They often specialize in clothing, accessories, furniture, and other goods made with recycled materials or designed to last longer than usual. Plus, they shop for used items to reduce the need for newly manufactured items.

Enjoy The Experience

Whatever type of thrifter you become, follow these tips for the best thrift shopping experience. With time and effort, you can become a thrifting pro, find incredible bargains, and get the most out of your thrifting journey.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Kathy Owen
Website | + posts

Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com,  a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, thrift store finds, and just about anything, into unique home décor.  She shares complete tutorials on painting furniture and reinventing her found items.  Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines.

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