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Thrift Store Shopping: 5 Quick Tips for Thrift Shopping Success

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I’m Emilee and I am a total thrift store addict. I love scouring the shelves and searching through the racks for hidden treasures. I love finding unique pieces to use in my home that make my home a total reflection of me rather than whatever trend is lighting up social media. I love knowing that I am saving money and getting the absolute best price possible. And, I love knowing that shopping secondhand is helping to keep items in circulation instead of in the dump.

I have been a thrift shopper for as long as I can remember. And in all my time hunting for the perfect items at the perfect price I’ve learned quite a bit about how to make the most of your thrift shopping experience. Here are 5 quick tips for thrift shopping success.

colorful home decor, thrifted home, change your home decor style on a budget

Thrifted artwork, picture frames, mirror, faux plant & basket.

5 Quick Tips for Thrift Shopping Success

1. Shop Around

Different thrift stores carry different types of items. Take the time to explore all of the thrift stores in your area to learn what their specialties are. My favorite local thrift store carries mostly small items like clothing, craft supplies and picture frames. There are a few larger thrift stores near me that focus on furniture. And others still that have bigger quantities of books, outdoor equipment or children’s items. Knowing what types of items the different thrift stores in your area carry will help you to know where to go when you’re looking for something specific.

2. Know the Sale Schedule

Yes, even thrift stores have sales. While secondhand items are usually already super cheap, you can stretch your dollar even further by paying attention to sale days.

My local Goodwill color-codes their tags and has a different tag color on sale each day of the week. This isn’t super helpful for planning ahead for shopping, but it does help me to make decisions when I’m digging through the racks.

A few other of my other local thrift stores have weekly and daily sales that they share on Facebook. This is helpful for planning ahead which days I’m going to shop that week. If your local thrift shops have social media accounts I recommend following them. Sometimes my favorite store will post big ticket items to social media before putting it on the sales floor. And, sometimes it is exactly what I’ve been looking for so I’ll hustle my butt over to get it before someone else snatches it up.

Some thrift store finds just make you ask, “But why?” I passed on this sad clown, but I think I could have found a spot for him somewhere in my home.

3. Make Friends with the Staff

It should go without saying that you should be nice to people, but really, really be nice to the thrift store staff. Depending on the type of thrift store where you’re shopping some staff members may even be volunteers rather than paid employees. In addition to being nice because you’re a nice person, being friendly with the store staff means you can ask them some important questions like:

  • When do you put out new items?
  • When do you mark down items?
  • I’m looking for [something specific], do you know if you have it in the back?
  • Can I leave my number to be contacted if you end up getting [something specific] in stock?

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time thrift shopping, make friends with the staff. They are your best asset in finding the perfect thrift store treasure.

4. Visit Often

I visit my favorite thrift store about once a week. It’s a small store with a mostly volunteer staff and all the profits benefit local church initiatives. The staff members are kind and at this point greet me and my son by name when we come through the door. You guys, I love this store way too much. 

A few years ago I started reading articles about getting the most out of my thrift shopping and they all said to visit the stores often, like multiple times per week. But, honestly, who has time for that?! I was working full time with a newborn. No way was I going to be able to visit multiple stores every week. 

So, all of that is to say that the more often you visit the thrift store the more likely you are to score a treasure, but visiting about once a week for the last few years has landed me lots of amazing thrifted items. 

If you can only visit once a month, you’ll still find some good treasures. Try not to have thrift store FOMO (fear of missing out). Someone will always be dropping off their junk for you to turn into a treasure.

thrift store shopping tips

Thrifted baskets totally complete this little space. 
Plus, the DIY Pineapple Planter and Skinny Console Table

5. Don't Be Afraid to Barter

Sometimes all it takes to get a better price is asking for a better price. Don’t be afraid to ask if prices are negotiable. Some thrift stores will accept offers on items while others don’t. 

Understand that if an employee says they cannot lower the price of an item it may be against their store policy. Also, some employees may not have the authority to negotiate pricing.

I recommend starting out by asking if prices are negotiable. If the answer is yes, suggest a price a little bit lower than what you actually want to pay. Many times the seller will meet you in the middle of your suggested price and the list price.

Bartering can be intimidating the first few times that you do it, but keep in mind that it’s just as beneficial to the seller as it is to you! The seller wants to make a sale and you want to get a great deal. Coming to an agreement about price helps you both get what you want.

My favorite thrift store chair, found for $5!

Thrift Shopping Success

Thrift shopping is how I fill my home with things that I love without making a big impact on my bank account. Not only is it economical, but it’s a way to keep things in circulation and out of landfills. Plus, finding that perfect thrifty treasure is just so much fun!

I hope these basic thrift shopping tips help you on your next thrift store treasure hunt!

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5 quick tips thrift shop like a pro

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