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7 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons

Outlet malls, end-of-season sales, and the good ole clearance rack are all fine and dandy, but for a REALLY amazing bargain, you can’t beat thrift stores. Now, unless you’re a seasoned pro who has meandered through the aisles of Goodwill and Salvation Army to find that barely used Theory skirt for under $10 bucks, thrift stores can be intimidating. With the unorganized racks, lack of sizes, and sometimes (okay, most of the times) musty smell, thrift stores can be tough to navigate, but trust us, it’s so worth it when you find that prize top that costs less than a pack of Juicy Fruit. We’ve written about thrifting in the past, but we’ve got 7 more tips on how to thrift shop.

7 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Change your ‘tude: Look, a thrift store isn’t Bloomingdales and a personal assistant isn’t going to bring you glasses of bubbly while you shop. Yet, get rid of preconceived notions that used clothes are dirty. Think of the thrifting experience as going through your grandma’s closet, or having a friend pass along a sweater than no longer fits her.

Shop Often: Unlike regular stores, since thrift stores operate under donations, the inventory constantly changes. There is new stuff ALL THE TIME! Find out when your local thrift store changes inventory, and go often because there’s always new (er… old) stuff, and since there’s only one of each item, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Go with Cash: Double check your store’s policy, but many thrift stores are cash only, so be prepared. You don’t want to find a cute skirt for $5 and be forced to pay $3 in ATM fees to withdraw cash.

Do a 360 Examination: Examine, examine, examine! Check the armpit area to see if there are any stains. Make sure all buttons are in place. Check the pockets to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises. In general, check for any stains, rips, tears, and holes.

Think seasonally: Spring cleaning? Tax season? College graduation? These are all times when people purge their closets and donate unwanted goods. Take advantage, and run to your nearest thrift store!

Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself: There’s no rule that says you have to stick to the women’s section. The men’s section is the perfect place to find an oversized blazer. Or if you’re petite, the children’s section can broaden your options.

Think Ahead: In this world of instant gratification, most of us dislike thinking ahead… seasonally that is. We like buying swimsuits during the summer, coats during the winter, and so on. Yet, in the thrifting world, timing works on a different schedule. See, people donate their goods after the season is over. Spring cleaning means getting rid of winter jackets and scarves. Take advantage by purchasing your clothing off-season. Trust us, while you can’t picture yourself wearing a wool coat in June, come December, you’ll be thanking yourself.

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antoinette

Saturday 31st of March 2012

The 360 review is crucial

ronnie

Sunday 19th of February 2012

Love this article! I want to read more about thriftin

jane

Wednesday 8th of February 2012

Awesome tips! I agree to look for thrift stores in affluent areas. Rich ppl donate nicer things!

Susan

Monday 6th of February 2012

Look for the thrift stores that are closest to the most affluent parts of town. Most people don't drive all the way across town to donate elsewhere, but rather to the closest place. There is a new Salvation Army near where I work in a nice area and it's loaded with good stuff. They also have 1/2 off days and coupons in the paper. There's nothing better than finding something awesome for really cheap and then getting it 1/2 off of that! I found a new thrift store this past weekend and one of the workers told me that they choose a color each Sunday and anything with that color tag is .25c and they choose another one that is 25% off. He said there are people lined up on Sun mornings and that all the .25c items are usually gone by 12 pm. Ask at your favorite thrift stores if they have a punch card, loyalty program, coupons, sales or an email list that they can tell you about. Stores that charge a flat rate for all tops, jeans etc... can be less than stores that price according to brand.

Nichole

Saturday 4th of February 2012

I wish the area I lived in had more locally owned thrift stores. We mainly just have Goodwills - but at least it's something! I am glad I'm not the only one who checks the kids sections. I feel like their sizes keep getting bigger and bigger which is great for me. And make sure you DIG through stuff. There have been so many times I've found cute things stashed away behind racks or inside jackets.

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