I had a great trip to my favorite thrift store last weekend! The picture above shows all the items I bought for my daughter for a total of $21.87. It included 10 items: 5 shirts, 4 pairs of jeans, and 1 dress, all in very good condition, including one new-with-tags. Since thrift store shopping can be such a great way to save money, I thought I’d share my advice for successful thrift store shopping.
- Find the best thrift stores in your town! Not all thrift stores are created equal, so explore your options. Ask for recommendations from friends to find out which ones have the highest quality items for the lowest prices in your area. I actually found out about my favorite from a friend who lives in another part of my state. She goes out of her way to visit this thrift store when she visits my city. If you’re in Ohio, check out my favorite, Village Discount Outlet.
- Don’t be too afraid of lower socio-economic neighborhoods. Often the best deals are found in the less desirable parts of town. Just go during the day, lock up your valuables, and you’ll be fine.
- Be prepared for a lack of dressing rooms. Many of the less fancy thrift stores do not offer dressing rooms. I find it’s best to wear clothes that you can try things on over, like a pair of bike shorts and a tank shirt.
- If you’re clothes shopping for someone else, bring measurements. It can be difficult to figure out which size to buy, especially for growing children. I like to measure my children with a ribbon. Cut one ribbon for the length of their inseam and one for their waist size. I use a different color for each child. Then I can just hold the ribbon up to pants to check the fit. When using this method, I’ve never bought a pair of pants that didn’t fit! A bonus is that sometimes you can find treasures in the size up or size down because you know by the measurements that it will fit. For shoes, you can also trace their foot on cardboard so that you can slip it inside the shoe to check the fit.
- Think about all seasons. You might find a great deal on snow pants in July or an adorable swim cover in December! You might be able to grab some amazing finds on off-season items.
- Bring a list and stay focused. In some of the larger thrift stores, it’s easy to get lost for hours. Before leaving home, make a list of what you need so you can focus on those. I often find it’s best for me to focus on one family member per trip. Shopping for all four of us at once is just too exhausting and overwhelming.
- Don’t forget to check out the non-clothing items. Most of us think mostly about clothing at thrift stores, but there are great deals to be find in toys, board games, books, purses, kitchenware, and household decor. Keep your eyes and your mind open and you never know what you might find!
- Pay attention to the store sales. Many stores have sales based on the color of tags on the clothes, so blue tags might be 50% off or all orange tags might be $0.75 on a certain day. There’s often a sign hanging on the wall or from the ceiling that shows the current day’s sale colors. The colors on sale are the items that have been in the store the longest so they may be picked over, but you can find some great deals this way. Many of the items I got last weekend were only $0.75! Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow shoppers, if you’re confused by the sales. Most are glad to help others get the bargains!
Those are my thrifting tips! Please add your own thrift store advice in the comments below.