Thrifting can be both fun and frustrating. If you know what you need to look for when shopping, you can find some amazing stuff. These thrifting tips can make all the difference when going on your next second-hand shopping spree.
How did I learn all about the best thrifting tips? When I was young, my parents didn’t have a ton of money. I would have categorized our situation as being lower-middle class. Although we had everything that we needed, most of what we had was used: hand-me-down toys, clothes and furniture. I don’t remember being particularly unhappy about it, but there is one thing I do remember: thrifting. I hated it.
The Reason For Figuring Out Great Thrifting Tips
My mom would take my two brothers and me to the thrift store, what seemed like, once a week. We didn’t go to the nicest thrift store, so the stuff seemed pretty used. I got most of my clothes and shoes there. I felt embarrassed going to school, especially as I got older and became more aware of how others viewed me (i.e. middle school and high school). Once my mom began working again and we made more money, we could finally afford to buy new clothes. I swore off thrift stores for good.
So, to my surprise, when I became a mother and the cost of caring for a child meant I didn’t have a ton of extra cash to spend on myself, I had to reevaluate how I went shopping. I went back to my roots, I went back to thrifting, but I did it in a much more successful way.
1. Pick a Thrift Store in an Affluent Area
Even if it means you have a drive a ways to get there, pick a thrift store that is located in a nice area. People who have more money, buy nice stuff. They also spend money more often, so the stuff they donate is newer, name-brand and is usually in excellent condition. The perfect formula for terrific thrift store shopping.
2. Only Consider Name-Brand Items
Thrift stores can be filled with off-brand clothes, furniture, shoes, etc. But, if you take the time to look, you’re guaranteed to find some name-brand items. When I say name-brand, I mean Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Tahari, Pottery Barn, and the like. These are brands that have pretty classic styles, so you can wear them a while without going out of style. They are also built well, so you shouldn’t wear them out too quickly. Obviously, if you love something and it’s not name-brand, go ahead and buy it! Just don’t expect it to last nearly as long as other name brand items.
3. Name-Brand Items Hold Resale Value
I don’t know about you, but I love the idea that the clothes and furniture I buy has great resale value. Meaning, if I need an extra buck, I can resell the stuff I bought at a thrift store, most likely for more than I bought it for! That’s why I always buy name brand items unless it’s something I KNOW I will keep forever. I know there are people who do things like that for a living (buy for cheap and sell at a higher price) and this is always an option but not the sole reason I go thrifting.
Related: How to Get Name Brand Clothing for Cheap
4. Frequent Your Thrift Store Often
The more frequently you visit, the more likely you will be able to find that something you want or love. Donations come in every day. I have a friend who goes every week, sometimes multiple times a week and she found Le Creuset Dishware for $30 each piece! These were in like-new condition! Considering they are hundreds of dollars for each piece if you bought it retail, that deal is completely unbelievable. You never know what is hiding in the back and will come out the following day.
5. Make Sure to Shop on Sale Days
Most thrift stores have special sale days, military days (if that applies to you) and other special discounts. Take the time to find out what they are and make sure to get there right when they open to take full advantage of those sales. You can get some great stuff for 50-75% ticket value (which is already less expensive than buying new). Make sure you get there early on sale days, other people know this secret too and you will have some hefty competition.
6. Bring Along Your Smart Phone
I mean, I’m sure you have your smart phone on you anyway. But, if you find something that you think is a good deal, check on your phone and find out for sure. I found a great stroller that retailed for $90, I bought it at a thrift store for $15. It was in like-new condition! These deals are out there, you just have to be willing to look.
Related: 10 Ways to Rock Summer Yard Sales
7. Shop In December
December is a great time of year to go thrifting. This is the time that people need to drop off their donations for that lovely tax deduction. When you shop in December, you get some really great stuff that people have been meaning to donate all year long. They also clear out their home of the “old” stuff that got replaced on Christmas. You’ll find nice furniture, house wares, coats, boots, clothes and toys.
Remember, thrifting is a process and the more you go, the more likely you will find great things. I can tell you that most of the furniture and clothes I have in my home, I have bought second hand. It is almost all name-brand and much nicer than the stuff I got as a child and it’s because of the thrifting tips spelled out above. So…get to thrifting! There is absolutely no reason to spend more money than necessary!
Eric P says
So true…definitely pick a spot in a nicer area. I learned from experience. LOL Great tips.
Semi-Crunchy Mama says
Yes, like they say in real estate, Location, Location, Location!
Melanie Bruce says
Love the tips and tricks! I usually only go to look for Murder Mystery Dinner Games! Now I am wanting to drive to Portland and or Seattle to look for some nice designer clothing!
I will say when I lived in Las Vegas, my roommate knew which days the new arrivals were put out and that the particular store received Targets clearance items that never sold! I found amazing deals on brand new things from Target at a thrift store!
I look forward to reading more tips and tricks!!! Love the concept and the blog!
Semi-Crunchy Mama says
I should probably update my blog regarding the Target information. We have a Goodwill in Castle Rock, CO that gets the free stuff from Target. I got some really cute Cat and Jack clothing, brand new with tags for $2 dollars a piece! Thanks for the comment!
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Flossie McCowald | SuperMomHacks says
SO true. All. Of. It. I almost NEVER buy anything for myself (esp. clothing) full price – you’re right about seeking out the thrift stores in the “fancier” zipcodes, but we also have some very swanky upscale resale boutiques here where I can get designer clothes for 90% off or more, esp. if I shop their clearance sales (which I totally do). This is another reason I totally LOVE children’s consignment resale events, both for selling and for shopping (when I’m not getting things for them at thrift stores, too) – the better “name brands” DO hold up over time, and both their/my tastes are more classic than not, so it works for us!
Semi-Crunchy Mama says
Yes! I love it! Consignment stores are also awesome. I get a lot of stuff from there too!
These are great tips! I’m trying to get into thrift shopping because I want to have a more sustainable lifestyle and it’s just amazing to be more unique and find once of a piece clothes. It’s just hard to start when you’re used to shop in those big stores.
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