10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores

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Posted on 11/09/2007

For some, thrift shops are grungy places never to be entered — if it's not in the mall, it's not worth shopping at. But for those who are willing to take the time to look, some of the most incredible bargains can be found at thrift shops. Not only that, but if you're into vintage stuff, you can find the coolest stuff at thrift shops, for cheap. Thrift shops can be great fun, but the experience is most definitely heightened if you're armed with the right information. The following tips should make thrift shopping a blast and a steal.

1. Don't be afraid of used. If you're not a veteran of thrift shops and garage sales, you might be someone who only buys new stuff. Break free from that predjudice, because even if it's been owned before, an item can be perfectly good (sometimes great) — and more importantly, it costs much less. You can find $100 clothing for a few dollars. You can find $1,000 furniture for a tenth of the price. You can find rare and collectible items for chump change. And if it isn't great looking, you can always fix it up with some paint, with a screwdriver, or with a needle and thread.

2. Be willing to spend a litte time looking. Thrift shops can have some real gems — but sometimes they're buried in piles of stuff you'd never consider buying. You've got to search, to sift, to rummage, to be patient. In fact, you may have to go through several thrift shops before you find what you're looking for, if you're picky. Think of it as a journey, not a quick stop, and you'll find many more great things.

3. Sell your old stuff for credit. Before you go to a thrift shop, pull a bunch of old clothes from your closet, get a bunch of your kids' toys (the stuff they've forgotten about), old books and magazines, anything you don't need anymore. Put them in some boxes, and sell them to the thrift store for credit. You've purged a bunch of clutter while allowing yourself to get some great used stuff for free.

4. Bring cash. Most thrift stores don't take anything but cash, so if you're used to using plastic or checks, be sure to remember to stop at an ATM and get some cash.

5. Shop outside of cities. If you live in a city, you might find that most of the thrift shops closest to you have been picked through thoroughly. Many times the thrift shops in cities don't have much to offer. But drive a few minutes just outside the city, and you'll find many more great things. It may be wiser to wait until you're going outside the city, and take advantage of that trip by stopping at thrift stores in the area.

6. Go with friends. Make it a fun outing. Hunting for great stuff in thrift stores with friends can be a real blast. Even if you don't find anything, if you've spent a good afternoon with friends, making jokes and making fun of the stuff in the stores... well, it's not a wasted day.

7. No dressing rooms. Most thrift stores have no place to change. So be willing to eyeball it and alter the clothes later to fit better. Or wear a tight-fitting tank top so you can try shirts on over it.

8. Look beyond the surface. Furniture, especially, can be scratched up, but still be a great find. Instead of paying attention to the nicks and scratches, consider how it'll look if you sand and varnish, or give it a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes an hour of work can make it as fresh as new.

9. TheThriftShopper.com. Enter your zip code on this site and you'll get all the thrift shops in your area, ratings and reviews of each, and tons of great info.

10. Test things out. If you're buying electronics, insist on testing them. For toys with batteries, open up the battery case to see if there's corrosion. Look closely at other items. A few defects are OK, but you want to look closely, because you don't want to take it home and find that it's useless.

* Hot deals expire quickly. This deal may no longer be valid.

Comments


Francisco

Posted on 10.10.13 at 6:31 AM

Lucy S - oooh!! super excited about what you'll do with the house. You have such a great ctrveiae eye for things, wanna come over & decorate my house?! hehehei'm really excited that we finally have a nice space that can actually be decorated & designed and not be over powered by our furniture! Can't wait for you to see it!unfortunately for us this christmas we have no decorations or a tree. it was all in the basement during papa's flood :(we are probably going to go & pick .. or cut lol our own tree in the mountains this year. Go out & buy our annual christmas anniversary decoration & work with that!but christmas is about a feeling not anything else and i love the feeling i have :)miss you Jenn, give those kiddo's a big hug & kiss from uncle Ty & Auntie Lucy <3December 1, 2011 4:20 pm

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