10 Tips for shopping at Thrift Stores

According to GetRichSlowly.com: " If the national media is any indication, more people are embracing the notion of buying used clothing from thrift stores and consignment shops. Last week, USA Today ran a story describing how secondhand stores are reaping the benefits of recession:

As Americans look for ways to cut spending, they are scooping up bargain clothes, accessories, toys and furniture once owned by someone else.
“We’re sorry about the economic situation, … but it is a good time for our industry,” says Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops. Three-fourths of resale stores said they had higher sales in September and October, compared with the same period last year, according to the trade group. The average sales increase was about 35%.
According to the article, 70% of adults surveyed last summer say that buying used is now more socially acceptable than it was a decade ago."

Here are 10 tips I've found to be helpful from my Thrift shopping experiences at local thrift stores:
1) GO WITH A PLAN: Have in mind specific items you or your family members need. Also keep in mind items for your household that you need.

2) SET A BUDGET: Don't go shopping with an open ended budget. Decide in advance the amount of money you can spend for the whole shopping trip.  It is easy to get carried away and over spend when you put a bunch of inexpensive items in your cart.  
3) Goes along with #2: GO WITH CASH:  If you can, take the budgeted amount along in cash. This will really help you to stay on track with your plan and your budget.
4) KNOW YOUR LOCAL THRIFT STORES SALE DAYS: Often your favorite thrift stores will have sale days like 1/2 off Wednesdays.  Keep this information in mind and try to take advantage of them.
5) ASK WHEN THEY ROTATE STOCK: Many thrift stores rotate stock continually, so you should check back often, but ask if there are specific days they bring in new inventory.
6) THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX : One of my favorite out of the ordinary thrifty places to shop is the Habitat for Humanity Restores.  We have several in the Richmond Metro area. They are a great place to find household, flooring, cabinetry, tiles, at 90 % off the retail price. We recently replaced a pair of bifold doors for $15.00 dollars from Habitat for Humanity Restore. Plus the money goes to a good cause. (They have exquisite dining tables too!)
7) TRY THINGS ON: Some thrift stores have dressing rooms, and some don't.  If you can try the clothes on.
8) READ THE LABELS: carefully read the labels and washing instructions. Don't by that cute silk blouse if your not going to dry clean it.
9) EXAMINE CAREFULLY; Nothings worse than getting home and discovering an unnoticed stain, broken zipper, or hole you hadn't noticed.
10) FIND WAYS TO REPURPOSE: A cute Christmas table cloth might make a cute tree skirt. Sheets can be used as shower liners or curtains.

Jan's bonus tips: Some people find that going to a more expensive living area of your town reaps the best named brand items at thrift stores and consignment shops, so that might be a fun thing to check out.  

                         Some used clothing stores let you sell them your unwanted items back, such as Plato's Closet, so take some with you and use the items they buy as store credit for your shopping trip.  

What are your favorite Thrifty Shopping tips or greatest finds?


  1. I love thrift stores!!! I don't buy anything new that I don't have to!!! I keep a list in my wallet of the many thrift stores in my area and their sale days, some its the tag color is 1/2 off and a family day where all but 1 color is half off, some have 99 cent days and rotating sales on different departments like kids, ladies, men, housewares, and a manager haggle day for furniture!
    I'm a penny pincher by nature and I won't buy anything unless its on sale or clearance! Even at a 2nd hand store! My kids all have brand name clothes and I don't pay more than $1.50 for jeans, I keep outfits to no more than $5 each typically less. I buy dress shoes at these shops too (I do buy sneakers new but always on clearance)
    I keep a tote for each kid that I fill with the next 2 sizes up in basics like jeans and tee shirts. This allows me to make sure I don't spend more than I want because I need it right now.
    2nd hand doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality or name brand... It just means you have to do a little hunting and be patient.
    My couches are like new and would have been over $1500 new I got them free when someone with less thriftiness decided she didn't want to have them cleaned so she replaced them. I threw the cushion covers in my washer, and took a little Castile soap and water to the spots on the rest if the couch and my friends about had a heart attack because they thought we actually went out and bought new ones :)
    Craigslist, eBay, consignment shops and thrift stores are a great start but don't forget good old fashioned classifieds and yard sales, auctions & estate sales. We get a weekly paper free with lots of local ads and there are always a couple free papers full if ads at the stores.
    Don't wait until you need something right now to go hunt for it, if you know your kids need new coats next year look now and keep looking until you find a great one at an even greater price! My sons coat this year is a super warm ski coat in his favorite color and should fit him next year too and I only paid $2.50 for it, I looked up the brand and its about $98 for a comparable one new! That is a $95.50 savings! My daughters wasn't as good of a deal but I still saved $85 on hers and she is on the 3 rd year wearing it and it still looks new!
    I don't buy everything 2nd hand. Clearance sales at the mall or target & Walmart & Kmart are great too. I don't buy anything for more than 75% off if I can help it. And I buy quality so that the stuff will last. My daughter has a few dresses from justice and I only spent $2 each on them granted it was 90 degrees wen I bought winter themed dresses but she loves them and I love the price.
    Even my hubby has come to see my side of things and has began to be more thrifty in his own shopping.

    1. Thanks for sharing! You are the queen of thrift!


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