Top Ten Thrift Tips: 10 Thrift store shopping tips to adopt

Whether you are a self proclaimed thrift store junkie, or new to the thrift store game and still a bit apprehensive, (see: only poor people thrift shop, every thrift shop is dirty, and other horrible thrift shop stigmas) there are still many tips to be reminded about when browsing and shopping.

Here are my top 10 thrift store tips to keep in mind:

  1. Have a plan:  Especially if you are new to the game, and eager to find savings, this can be an exciting new world of bargain bin items that you might have never known existed.  It’s easy to go a little super market sweepstakes, and gather up everything you think you might want.  But hold your horses there buckaroo.  Narrow your thinking to what you actually need.  Back to school essentials, decor for a specific room, a table with specific measurements….whatever it is, reign it in.  Make a list, and stick to it.

  2. Or not:  “Wait, but I thought you just said….?”  Yes, I told you to reign it in, BUT there can be items to be found when you’re not searching too.  Keep an open mind.  You might find a little gift for someone else, (my favorite thing to do at the thrift store) and a little gift for you by the thrifting gods.

  3. Go Often:  It’s best to go frequently.  Inventory at stores, especially with high volume, have a quick turnover.  If you see it and you like it, truly, get it.  This is when you have to have a hard talk with yourself.  See tip number 6.  But going often will allow you to see the inventory, as opposed to only a sampling of what they have on that given day of the month.

  4. Go on a Monday:  A case of the Mondays might not be the truth for thrift stores.  The most popular day for yard sales is Saturday.  Most people who have just done all the work of a yard sale, want nothing more than to just throw the leftovers in the car, drop it off at a thrift store, and run with their arms flailing back to their car while screaming, “Good Riddance!”  So, most inventory from those yard sales are making their way onto the floor by Monday evening.

  5. Check Everything:  Check, then double check, then do one better than Santa, and check again.  I’ve been a victim to this sooo many times, so heed my warning.  Don’t get all excited, toss that into your cart, and not look at it again until you get home and find there is a big hole, then try to think how you can fix said hole, hoard the item for too long, then toss it.  Sound like I’ve been there?  I have.  Sometimes, I find something I have been looking for, or fall in love with, and we all know that love is blind.  But, you have to take a deep breath, and stop to really examine.  Look everywhere, three times or more.  I know, now I’m adding even more system checks.  Look for holes or stains in clothing, damaged appliances, more wear and tear than you want to deal with or fix, etc.  My elusive pink leather jacket, was found at the Goodwill.  It had something all over the shoulder.  A quick search proved that Leather is pretty hard to treat when it has that kind of damage, so I passed on it.  I’m still on the hunt.  

  6. Will you really?:  Ask it.  Challenge yourself.  Will I really like this piece of clothing tomorrow?  Will I really paint this furniture to match my living room?  Will I really youtube to learn how to rewire a lamp, and have enough confidence in myself that I won’t set my house on fire over a $2 lamp?  If the answer is no, leave it.  Do not pass go, do not look back.  Another question to really ask; Does this item bring me joy?  If you don’t need it, it’s not a bargain.

  7. Konmari Method:  One in, one out.  I tend to do some in, and a lot out.  I like the therapeutic feeling of purging a lot of items at once, looking at my massive pile, and either donating or yard selling those items.  If you want to stick to one/one, make a bin somewhere, and when it’s full, donate or sell.  Either way, you must get rid of some in order to keep from outside looking in, as my grandma always said.

  8. Cash is King:  I like to negotiate, but I hate negotiating at a thrift store unless an item is something I really want and is insanely overpriced.  I’ve been honest with store owners before by telling them I could get a new one at the price they have it listed, but would rather support their store.  If you have cash to use, it makes the blow a little less painful for a store that is getting hit with high merchant fees on top of your haggle.  Not many, but some stores out there, are cash only stores.  Inevitably you will find just the thing you need at a cash only store, with zero cash on you.  If you know you will be thrifting, get some cash.

  9. Thrift Kit:  I gave away free swag bags to our first ten thrifters at our first thrift store meetup group this past Saturday.  It contained a thrift kit of items that are helpful to have with you if you are thrifting.  A notebook and pen to jot down your wish list, measurements, or ideas you might get while thrifting for inspiration on other projects.  Socks for trying on shoes in store.  I clean everything before I wear it, thoroughly.  It’s hard when you find a pair of shoes, and don’t want to stick your bare foot in there to try it on.  This is Florida, and most people, myself included, live in sandals.  It’s nice to have a pair of socks in your bag.  Hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean when you are digging through and touching many items.  I also have hand sanitizer in my car for after I touch the gas pump too, so thrift stores shouldn’t get a complex over this.  And gum, for when you need a little boost of refreshment while you are hunting.

  10. Join a community:  You might not have a super awesome person in your community to spearhead a Thrift Store Meetup Group like the lucky residents and visitors of the Space Coast (wink wink) but you can be friendly with the thrift store employees at the store you shop.  Either way it’s nice when you have some connections.  When I’m thrifting, and I find the perfect item for a friend, and it’s super cheap, I’ll pick it up for them as a gift.  Four eyes are better than two, six eyes are better than four, and you get the idea.  Plus store employees will tell you when sales are, when is the best day to come, and maybe even call you to let you know your perfect mid century pink stove just arrived at the store.

You’re a lucky duck if you live in, or visit the Space Coast, and want to join a community of thrift store friends, AND get some extra discounts along the way.  Check out our community of thrift store fanatics.  I have sooo many plans for the future of The Nicolyndime Thrifter’s Group, and I want you to get on board ASAP to take advantage of everything that’s to come.

Seriously, I get the excited butterflies in stomach the morning we are going to Disney feeling when I tell you that this group is created to treat you like royalty.  This group is all about what I love, like free stuff, giveaways, advice, thrift stores (duh) mail swaps, special holiday events, strong communities, charity, spreading kindness, positive vibes, and self care.

So what are you waiting for?  Join the list for free here:

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