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How to Shop in Thrift Stores

Updated on December 1, 2012
Knowing how to shop at a thrift store can save you time and aggravation while saving money.
Knowing how to shop at a thrift store can save you time and aggravation while saving money. | Source

Why Shop at a Thrift Store

Some people do not like the idea of buying dirty, dingy, and discarded things. I am one of those people. Yet I enjoy shopping at thrift stores. Many more people are shopping at thrift stores in this economy, and many new thrift stores have opened up. When you shop at thrift stores, you can find high quality, unique items at low prices.Many of these items are no longer available in stores.

The prices of items at thrift stores are usually less expensive than those at the department stores so you will save money.

By reusing items that have already been used, you are helping reduce your carbon footprint and saving the environment.

Most thrift stores are connected to charities. The charity, such as the Kidney Foundation or Salvation Army collects items and sells them to a thrift store. By shopping at the stores, you are indirectly helping the charity.

Here are some ideas about getting the best bargains:

These thrift store glass and ceramic items can be easily cleaned.
These thrift store glass and ceramic items can be easily cleaned. | Source

Buy Things that Can be Easily Cleaned

If you are one of those people who gets the shivers at the thought of using someone else’s things, it is helpful to think of items that you can clean. Glass items, for example, are easy to clean and disinfect. If you can sew a button, or hem some pants, or repair a small rip, you will be able to get items at an even bigger discount.

Buy things at thrift stores that you are willing to borrow

The thrift store often carries books, magazines, CDs and DVDs. It has furniture, toys, kitchen utensils, dishes, pots and pans, and decorative items such as paintings and vases, garden equipment, exercise equipment. Besides clothing, there are also accessories such as belts, purses, shoes, scarves, hats, and jewelry. If you want to avoid bed bugs, you can avoid buying upholstered items such as sofas or pillows.

Both the doll and the desk were thrift store finds.
Both the doll and the desk were thrift store finds. | Source

Buy Things that are hard to find

Some things are simply easier to find at a thrift store than a department store. Antiques and stereo needles can be found at great prices at a thrift store. Some people would rather get their items from eBay, not knowing that the seller got their item from a thrift store or yard sale. If you don’t like this year’s clothing trends, the thrift store will have clothes that fit your style.

Buy New Things at Thrift Stores

There are many new things that are at the thrift store. Sometimes a store that is going out of business will donate their leftovers to a charity.

Buy things you will need short term

We have found great school uniforms and scrubs at thrift stores. Most kids grow out of their uniforms or switch schools before they wear out the uniforms. Buying them at a thrift store makes a lot of sense. There are racks and racks of items to choose from, and you can wash them when you get them home. They are great for a Halloween party or a costume party. Some people even have parties where they require all guests to come in clothes that were bought at a thrift stores.

Learn about their sales policies

We have a couple of thrift stores that reduce the prices of items that have been at the store for a while. They color code their items, and put them on sale, so items that have been in the store for five weeks are 75% off, items that have been in the store for three weeks are 50% off, and so on. Another store offers everything in the store on sale at 50% one day a month. You can get things for better prices on those days, but the stores will be more crowded on those days. And the following day, the selection will be smaller than if you wait until later in the month.

Check the items

The thrift store generally checks the items before they put them on the shelves, but they could miss something, or the item could have been damaged while on display. Try on the item if there is a fitting room to be sure you like how it fits on you. The size on the label may be misleading. Be sure to thoroughly check the item since most thrift stores will not allow returns.

Saving Money at the Thrift Store

Sometimes you may be able to find something on sale at a discount department store for lower prices than the thrift store. By being aware of prices of items, you can avoid paying more for used items.

These ties, and many more, were purchased from thrift stores to be used in quilts.
These ties, and many more, were purchased from thrift stores to be used in quilts. | Source

Buy Things to make other Things

You can buy jeans and use them to make jeans quilts, or ties to make crazy quilts. You can even buy items just to use their buttons for a craft project.

Be Flexible and Patient

There are a lot of items at a thrift store you may not have thought of. New things come in all the time. You will be disappointed if you want a particular brand name and particular size of an item. By being flexible about what you want, (i.e. jeans) you will be able to find a wide array of things that will fit the category.

Since the thrift store does not carry multiple sizes of the same item, there are a lot of items to look through. At a department store, if you don't like a particular style of dress, you can often skip the rack and go on to the next one. At a thrift store there are many different styles on the same rack. They are often organized by size so you can find the things that fit you.

Shopping in Thrift Stores and Second Hand Shops

Shopping at a thrift store is not for everyone, but there are many times I have found items I wanted that I could not get anywhere else for a reasonable price. Most stores are well lit and organized, and there are many great treasures to find at the thrift store.

© 2011 Shasta Matova


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