The words “thrift shopping” can conjure up different images for different people.
Some thrift for the thrill of finding a great bargain, while others may just love older and vintage items. Some thrift because they simply don’t have the budget for brand new.
And some have never really thrifted at all, either out of intimidation, or simply feeling skeeved out by the idea of wearing “used” clothes and owning “used” items.
However, thrift shopping can be a great way to score quality items, both “new” and vintage while saving you some cash. It does take patience, dedication, and luck to score those awesome finds, but it’s well worth it.
As someone who enjoys browsing around Goodwill and stopping by yard sales, I’ve sifted through my share of crap in order to find those hidden gems! When I do find them, it feels like I struck gold.
Who can resist an amazing deal and knowing that you’re making use of something that could have otherwise ended up in the trash? This is why thrifting is so worthwhile.
To help you find those diamonds in the rough, here are 3 tips for thrift shopping success:
Take your time when browsing
Fast fashion is so convenient today, not only because of the low prices but also because it’s so ubiquitous. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a cheap retailer in most urban areas. That makes it incredibly easy to find what you want in a hurry. Unfortunately, that isn’t always great for your budget, and it’s definitely bad for the environment.
Successful thrifting takes much more time and effort than simply grabbing cute clothes off the racks at Target.
The chances of walking into a Goodwill and immediately finding a great item is pretty slim, so do be prepared to wade through jammed racks full of unattractive, ill-fitting items before hitting the jackpot.
I have a lot more success finding gently used clothing items for my kids than I do myself these days, and that’s probably because I spend more time searching for things for them.
Take your time and go through the racks carefully. If you have something in particular in mind that you want to buy, like for example a cozy fall sweater or a warm cardigan, hit those racks first. Otherwise, you may get burnt out and give up before you’ve even looked in the right places.
Read More: 5 Ways to Dress Kids for Cheap
Look for labels and brands
When people want to get rid of unwanted clothes and household items, many don’t take the time to see if their brand name items are worth something today. Instead, they simply toss it into the donation bin without a second thought.
One person’s trash becomes a thrifter’s treasure! If an item catches your eye, be sure to take a closer look at the label. You just may score a brand name item for a few bucks.
Some thrift stores like Goodwill have gotten savvier about looking for labels, especially with clothing and handbags, and then marking those items up accordingly. If you’re not sure if you’re actually getting a good deal, do a quick online search. You may be able to get a better idea of what a particular label or vintage item is going for.
In my experience, many smaller local thrift shops don’t differentiate between items and just put everything out on the shelves for a reasonable price. They can be a great place to score a high-end brand for super cheap.
In addition to looking at the labels, carefully check over any item you’re considering buying. Many stores don’t offer refunds or returns, so you’re buying as-is and are stuck with it. For clothing, check along seams for tears, look for small holes, pulls, and stains.
When buying household items, check carefully for cracks, dents, knicks, etc. If you’re buying an appliance, lamp, etc, ask to plug the item in and ensure that it’s in good working order before you buy.
Give every store a chance
Most people think of Goodwill and the Salvation Army when they think of second-hand stores.
While both of these retailers are good places to support, there are also tons of independently owned second-hand stores that are worth your time. In fact, I’ve found that some of the most interesting pieces and the best prices are offered by smaller shops.
Don’t skip over that small consignment shop in a strip mall just because it doesn’t look like much from the outside. There’s a pretty good chance that something unique is hanging on the racks or hidden on a shelf. I usually find the best stuff at these random, smaller shops.
Other places to look for thrifted goodies are local church sales or community free stores. A free store opened up near us a few years ago and it’s a great place to drop items off and find something cool.
Join a local free-cycle or swap group on Facebook. In my area, we have community yard sale groups as well as swap groups. Those are great places to look first if you’re searching for something specific.
With the amount of like-new clothing items that people cycle through quickly in today’s fast fashion, instant gratification world, thrifting is a smart option for conscientious consumers. With a little time and effort, you can find hidden treasures among the racks of your local second-hand store. Happy hunting!
Do you go thrift shopping, or do you have reservations about buying used clothes and housewares?