A while back, I promised some tips on thrift store shopping.
Then I forgot about it.
But then I remembered. Yay me!
So here are my tips.
- Scope out the thrift stores in your local area. Know which ones tend to have more of the brands you like. I really only started buying at thrift stores a few years ago. Prior to that, I wasn’t really into name-brand anything because, well, I’m cheap. But after having bought some stuff from thrift stores (for cheaper than I can get at Wal-mart!), I have a few brands I like and I keep my eyes open for those. You can find anything at a thrift store! Maximize your savings by buying things you normally wouldn’t be able to afford at full price!
- Most thrift stores have “sale” days – get to know when those are! For example, my local Salvation Army Family Store has clothes & shoes 50% off on Wednesdays. Some other thrift stores have frequent shopper programs – find out about them and take advantage!
- Don’t be afraid, especially when buying kids’ clothes – to buy off-season or at least at the end of the season for the following year. Often these items are discounted even more.
- Inspect the quality of EVERYTHING before you buy. Look for stains, tears, cracks, holes, missing buttons, etc. Sometimes you’ll find something that’s minor and easily fixed, but sometimes not.
- Buy ahead. If you know that you’ll eventually need an item (even if not right away), start scouring thrift stores right away. Thrift stores are like garage sales – you may or may not find what you want on a particular day. I’ve been looking for an Easter dress for my 11 year old for about 3 months now. I haven’t been able to find anything that would fit her, that she would like, and that didn’t have spaghetti straps (is it just me, or are these inappropriate for 11-year olds?). Then finally last week I walked into the Volunteers of America store and found not one, but three dresses that were what I was looking for! For 3.99 each – and all were name brands. Bottom line – be patient!!
- Be willing to travel. We have three thrift stores and two church thrift shops locally. And that doesn’t even include a used book store and a Habitat for Humanity Re-store! (and I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something else, too) But there are lots more thrift stores within an hour’s drive. Some of those have better quality clothing, but are also more expensive. Some have more furniture than others, some have more clothing. It’s good to be aware of this so that you can head to the right store when you know what you need!
- Know your price! If you don’t know what something costs new, then you don’t really know if you’re getting a good deal! Don’t assume that just because it is at a thrift store that you’re getting it cheaper! Several times I’ve seen stuff that I know I could get cheaper new at Wal-mart.
- Try on the clothing (if possible) before you buy. It’s so tempting to just go ahead and buy it because it’s so cheap. But I’ve been burned by that so many times – and it adds up! – that now I rarely buy clothing without trying it on.
- Try on the shoes (BOTH OF THEM) before you buy! I heard of someone who bought a pair of suede boots in nearly perfect condition. She tried on one and it fit perfectly, so she bought them. When she got home, she realized that she had bought two left boots! And she cried and cried. (OK, I admit, it was me. I didn’t really cry, but I was soooo bummed because I had been looking for boots forever!)
- If you’re buying CDs – open up the case and make sure there is a CD in there, make sure it’s the right one, and then make sure it’s not scratched!! (again, personal experience!)
- If possible, plug in electronic items and test them out before buying.
I’m curious, do you have any tips for thrift store shopping? Please share them!