I love thrift store shopping. There’s a novelty in sifting through the racks and shelves, really searching for the diamond in the rough. I also love second hand stores, because not only can you find popular pieces, you can find real treasures, one of a kind items you can’t find anywhere today. And if you’re lucky, you can find pieces you can tell have a history, and putting that charm into your cart and then your home is magical to me.
I often get asked how I find great things at the thrift store, and while it isn’t always easy, and much of thrifting is chance, I do have a few tips and tricks to help you along the way.
1. Have an open mind.
To start, go in with an open mind. Be creative. Try to visualize a new purpose for items how ways to improve it. Don’t take everything at face value.
2. Empty your car, just in case.
You never what you’re going to find, so make sure you have plenty of room to cart it home. I’d also suggest tossing a blanket that can get dirty in your trunk or back seat. You never know what great pieces you’ll see, or how dusty they are.
3. Wear easy clothes.
I like to wear simple, easy to remove clothes when I shop. One, it makes trying things on easier. Two, if you’re dressed up to look fancy, it’s not as easy to bargain on price. My go-to is a tank top and jeans, maybe a cardigan if I need it for warmth, slip on shoes, and a cross body bag for hands free shopping.
4. Carry around the maybes.
If you’re unsure whether or not you want something, put it in your cart and carry it around with you until you decide. Because if someone sees and knows you want it, they will snatch it up as soon as you put it down. Which leads me to…
5. Don’t act like you want something someone else has.
If you see someone looking at or carrying around something you want, don’t act suspicious. Keep and eye on them, but don’t let them know you want the item. They may put it back, but if they know someone else wants it, they’ll probably keep it. Speaking from personal experience.
6. Try to see potential in furniture.
Look for lines and foundation. Don’t worry too much about the paint job or hardware. If it has good lines and is in solid condition in a foundation sense, give it a shot.
7. Shop off-season.
The best time to find winter pieces is in the summer and summer pieces in winter, because people tend to donate in an off season to make room for new purchases. Plus, they’re usually on sale.
8. Check for sales.
A lot of times second hand stores have sales. Call ahead or ask the salespeople if there are any deals you should know about.
9. Be kind.
Be nice to the salespeople. One, that’s just what you should do as a human being, and two, they’re more likely to cut you a deal, hold certain items, or alert you to new items when you’re kind to them.
10. Look for name brands.
I don’t particularly care if my clothes are name brand, but it’s always great to find quality pieces from quality, well-known brands.
11. Watch for new merch.
Places like Goodwill receive and put out new merchandise daily, so if you see anyone rolling out a new rack, head straight there.
12. Have discretion.
Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If you’re really never going to wear it or use it, and you’re only buying it because it’s $2, just put it back.
13. Shop frequently.
If you go the same stores frequently, it’s not as overwhelming because you get a sense of the layout and atmosphere of the store.
14. Remember jewelry.
Don’t knock secondhand jewelry. You can find some really interesting pieces.
15. Look outside of your size.
Vintage clothing, especially, doesn’t always fit the way clothing does now. A lot of times things were cut smaller in decades past. I recently saw a coat that was a size 8 (I’m generally a 0), but it fit perfectly.
16. White T’s + rugs are rare.
So if you see them, buy them.
17. Try things on.
Most stores will have fitting rooms, and if they don’t, slip pieces on over the clothes you’re wearing. Get creative.
18. Take cash.
Just in case a store has a dollar limit for card use, take a little cash with you.
Those are the tips I keep in mind anytime I’m thrifting. I also wanted to include things I always shop for as well as things currently on my hunt list.
My Favorite Things to Thrift
- Name brands: because we all like getting name brand items at a discount.
- Picture frames: I love finding cool frames and repainting them to match my decor and hate paying for them full price.
- Records: I LOVE sifting through records at the thrift store. I easily could purchase them online whenever I decide I want them, but it’s not as fun.
- Catch-all trays: These are my favorite things to find. Again, I could go to Target whenever I decided I needed one, but they just aren’t as fun.
My Current Hunt List
- Jean jackets: I want to put patches and appliques on them.
- Rugs: I’m looking for maybe a 5′ x ‘ rug for my bathroom.
- Good jeans: To DIY
- Gold rimmed glasses
- Blue + white dishes
If you have any tips that work for you that I might have missed, let us know in the comment section!
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