8.04.2011

Thrift Store Shopping Tips


I love shopping at thrift stores! I believe that shopping second hand is one of the most ethical ways of making purchases. Items that people no longer want, things that would otherwise end up in our landfills are able to find new purpose and new homes.

My mom took my sisters and I thrifting when we were younger, and I always hated it back then. The smell of the stores was difficult for me to get past. But as I've grown older, and now have to actually pay for my own things, I've been able to move past the smell and really learn to love thrift store shopping.


Aside from food, I purchase at least 90% of my families belongings second hand. I'd like to share some of my shopping tips with you today.

1. Go often. The most important tip I can give. Don't expect to find great deals in just one visit. Many times when I go I don't find anything worth purchasing. But the stores are constantly putting out new merchandise, so it's important to go often.

2. The more often you go, the more you'll learn which stores carry what you're looking for. I know the thrift store closest to my house rarely has clothing that I would buy, so I usually don't even bother looking through their clothing racks. But they always have furniture, kitchenware and other household items, so I know to always check those isles.
Also, the more often you go, you'll start to learn the layout of the stores and you can quickly run through the store to sift through the junk and find the treasures.

3. Have an ongoing list of things you need. For example, right now I'm looking for a new garbage can to keep under our kitchen sink. I don't need it right away, so I can just keep looking until I find one second hand. I have other things like that that I'm looking for, so I keep a list as to not forget something I may need at home.

4. Have a price limit. For example, if you're looking for a sweater, go into the store with a $7 limit. If you find a nice sweater priced for $12, pass on it. This helps to not make frivolous purchases.
Some stores have outrageous prices that I'm not willing to pay. Part of me feels like I shouldn't complain about the price, since it all goes to charity. But when it comes down to it, I'm not rich and really, they're trying to sell other peoples garbage, which really should not be overpriced.

5. I rarely pay the full price the stores are asking for. Most stores have specific discount days and coupons they give out. Learn when and what those are. Here, the Goodwill has a certain color of tag that they discount during the week and on weekends. I shop the Goodwill on those days. Value Village will give you a 20% discount coupon when you make a donation. I never buy at Value Village unless I have one of those coupons. Sometimes I'll drag my dad along, since he's able to get a senior discount.

6. Make friends with the employees. If you're nice, and support your local thrift stores, they appreciate it and may do favors for you. If I find an item that doesn't have a price tag on it, the employees usually give it to me for a good price, since they know who I am and know that I support their store.

7. Set limits. This one I'm still learning. Don't buy something just because it's a good deal. I bought a Le Crueset frying pan several months back that I just didn't need. It was a good deal, so I bought it. It sat and sat in my closet and I just re-donated it back to the same store. This happens to me a lot if I'm not careful. I try to only buy things that I really need.

I'm sure there are plenty of other tips out there. If you have a thrift store shopping tip to share, would you please leave it in the comments for us to read?

Happy Thursday, Friends!

6 comments:

Fran said...

i love this post. i am one big thrift store spender, too.

my tip is related to #6, i guess. i also go often and there's one particular shop i like going back to and because they know me already, i normally tell them that i need a certain something and they could give me a call if it becomes available and i think they really take note of these things. i got a call once for a mirror that i really needed. so when i dropped by, it was better than i expected for a very affordable price. :)

ELK said...

i get almost all of my clothes at a very special little resale shop..they have an edited selection so I am not overwhelmed...

i love to browse the bigger shops when I have time~

Plain and Joyful Living said...

We also buy most of our clothing and household goods second hand and I do enjoy shopping at thrift stores. I agree with the tip to only buy what you need.
Hope you are feeling well.
Warm wishes, Tonya

sherrie said...

This post made me so. happy. I completely agree with all of your excellent tips. Being choosy is so important, too - I try to only buy things that I love enough (or need) that I would be willing to pay full price for. Beautiful photo, too!

natalie said...

i love this, amber! we buy 90% of our goods from thrift shops, too. i've found that purchasing items out of season can be great, too. if i find a size small vintage sweater in the summer & the price is right, i do not hesitate to purchase it because i know luke will need it for the upcoming months. i once found some patagonia long johns for luke for $1! it was the summer but hey! he really used them once the snowy season hit!

Kirsty said...

Change of seasons is often the time op shops have big sales so the next couple of weeks could be good pickings! my sister gave me some great advice - "It's Ok to look at it, love it, admire it, and then leave it - if you don't have a place for it at home its just clutter." I like the bring something home donate two things back rule as well.