Thursday, March 20, 2014

Score the Best Deals - 40 Thrift Store Shopping Tips

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I don't know about you but I love thrift shopping. Even when I don't actually need anything. Wait a minute what does shopping have to do with needing something. Silly me. I can always find something I need.

Do I sound like I could be addicted to shopping? Or could I be a hoarder? Maybe but that's okay. I think most creative people love shopping for their hobbies and they are hoarders to some extent.

But addiction and hoarding is not the topic for today. If you want to read my hoarding post you can check it out HERE. Otherwise lets get back on track.

I'm sure you would love to score the best deals so I will share my 40 thrift store shopping tips.

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

I'm sure many of you are already shopping experts but thrift store shopping is a little different so we have to keep that in mind.
  1. Wear comfy shoes and clothes because the quickest way to make a shopping adventure go bad is sore feet or wearing clothes that make you too hot or leave you too cold.
  2. As with any kind of shopping, a list is a must have. Maybe you are collecting cutlery to match your set and you just need one more fork, you don't want to let a good deal escape just because your memory isn't what it use to be.
  3. Carry a measuring tape with you because you may need to measure an item to be sure it fits the space it is intended to fill. 
  4. Have your family member's measurements with you. The size of an article of clothing may not be accurate anymore due to shrinkage or stretching.
  5. Take a small snack and a bottle of water with you. There's no time to stop and eat. plus you don't want to get dehydrated or faint from starvation.
  6. Bring some baby wipes. They're great for cleaning up your hands after touching lots of dusty dirty items.
  7. If you can, be sure to try your great finds on. It's just a bummer to get it home then have to return it to the store because it doesn't fit or it looks like poop on you. Most thrift stores do have a return policy but it's better to be safe.
  8. If you find something you like put it in your buggy. If you change your mind about it you can always put it back on the shelf. Other wise you just might see it pass by in someone else's cart. 
  9. Which brings me to this next tip. If you really like something buy it. More than likely it won't be at the store tomorrow. I don't know how many times I've regretted leaving something at the store that should have come home with me.
  10. Take cash with you. Most thrift stores use debit but you don't want to get caught at that one particular store that doesn't.
  11. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to browse the rows and rows of items. Each item on the rack is unique so take your time to check them out.
  12. You should go fairly often because inventory is constantly changing.
  13. Most thrift stores bring out new stock through out the day but others don't. Ask the sales associates when they bring in new items.
  14. You may be able to get a price reduction on an item that is flawed. Some stores take those imperfections into consideration when pricing but others don't so you could end up with a sweeter deal. The worst they can say is no.
  15. Clothing quality inspections:
    1. Inspect clothes for stains that you know you can't get out.
    2. Are there any holes that can't easily be repaired?
    3. Check the seams, crotch, underarms, knees and hems
  16. Shoes quality inspections
    1. Look inside shoes for wear and tare. 
    2. Check the shoes sole - bend it - I found a really nice pair of shoes but the sole was cracked all the way through and could only be seen when I pressed it.
  17. Inspect other items for damage that impairs the integrity of the item. Some things are not worth fixing so check it out thoroughly before you buy it.
  18. Be sure to thoroughly clean your new treasures. I'm sure there is no need for an explanation for this one - except maybe one - head lice. Okay two - crabs. Not just an old wives tale.
  19. Thrift stores depend on donations so keep the type of neighborhood in mind when choosing a store location to frequent. Some areas will have better vintage items and others will have new brand labels.
  20. Don't forget to buy off season. A fantastic winter coat in the summer may be the bargain you find so don't rule it out just because the temperature is high. Same goes for decorations. Just make sure that you don't tuck it away for safe keeping and forget where you put it - or that you actually have it. Done that one too.
  21. If you are a hoarder you can skip this tip. Other wise try to donate one item for every new item you take home. I make this deal with my granddaughters all the time. Yes I will buy that toy but then you have to give one away that you don't play with anymore. It works on keeping their piles down. Unfortunately or should I say fortunately I don't have to follow that rule because I made it up for them not me.  :)
  22. Get to know your thrift stores.
    1. Some stores have better items than others. Just because this particular thrift store doesn't have good clothes doesn't mean that the same store at a different location will have crappy clothes too
    2. The same goes for furniture, houseware etc. I know which stores in my area have the best furniture and which ones are better for clothes or even books. You'll figure it out too.
  23. Seniors make sure to take advantage of the senior discounts when available. If you're not a senior maybe you know one who would like to be your shopping buddy. My Mom and I shop together. Lucky me to have such a great shopping friend.
  24. If you are a vintage or antique enthusiast, a smart phone will save you time and money. It's best to do a little internet research on an item for market value before buying.
  25. Use your imagination to envision items upcycled with a quick coat of paint or a higher hem. A quality item may be worth a little elbow grease.
  26. Sign up for email updates to receive notice of all sales at your favorite thrift stores.
  27. For the most part, today's thrift stores are organized but you will still find items misplaced. Some shoppers put items down in the wrong area. The store employees get busy and don't get a chance to put everything back in order. You may find things in unusual places. Like a child's dress between the men's t-shirts. So if you have the time, browse through all departments.
  28. Keep an eye out for in store signage advertising daily specials or near future sales events.
  29. Don't forget your discount card at home. I did that today. My card was stamped and full. I could have had thirty percent savings but it was in my wallet which was not with me. What a drag. 
  30. Have an idea of what things cost. You wouldn't want to pay close to the same amount for used as you would for new. For example, I've seen dollar store items while thrift shopping for the same cost used as it is brand new.
  31. If saving money is your goal be sure to set a budget for yourself. It's hard to keep the spending down when you see so many good bargains. I'm bad for this one.
  32. Don't forget to get some thrift shopping in when you are travelling. You may find some very unique items to that area.
  33. If you are a frequent shopper you will undoubtedly make friends with the store employees which is nice because it make shopping that much more fun. But it is also nice because they may be willing to keep an eye out for particular items you are looking for.
  34. Check the newspaper for garage sales, church sales and estate sales.
  35. A lot of thrift shoppers arrive super early at yard sales to get their pick. Others will wait until closing time to get their best bargains because some sellers would rather sell or give it away than to pack it back up and take back into the house.
  36. Bring your own bag. Not all stores have buggies so it is quite convenient to have a bag to pop new found items into.
  37. Have patience. One day you might find loads of cool stuff but other days may be a dud. So be patient you'll find what you are looking for - eventually.
  38. Before checking out, we always review the items in our buggy.  We make two piles. One if for definite yes and one is for maybes. Then we take the maybes and take another look. Do we really want that movie? Can live without another black top? Will I actually wear that funky pair of pants? My maybes usually end up back on the rack.
  39. Stores tend to be over stocked once everyone starts spring cleaning. That goes for garage sale season too. People donate whatever doesn't sell.
  40. Don't let small imperfections or flaws stop you. Even the things you buy new aren't in perfect condition for very long so remember imperfect second hand items are just as good.
Holy cow. What a list. I didn't realize it was going to be this long. I was thinking a list of ten or fifteen tips. I got busy didn't I.

Did I miss anything. Do you have a tip you would like to add?

I look forward to reading your comments. Make my day and please leave one. 

Have a wonderful week.


Wait a minute. This blog post has been featured. I am so happy.

This is what Jenny from the Jenny Evolution had to say, "Who doesn’t love to save money? 40 Must-Know Thrift Shopping Tips from Let It Shine."Thanks Jenny!

If you want to see the other features please click HERE.


This post was also featured on Everyday Family Living. This is what Stephanie Kay had to say. "In the last year I’ve gotten into thrift shopping. So far I bought a beautiful rocking chair for $20 and scored big on kids’ clothing. I think in the last year I spent a total of $500 to clothe 5 children!! Let it Shine has 40 Must Know Thrift Shopping Tips to share with you. I would add one more to her list — only take with you the child you are shopping for. Otherwise the child getting nothing becomes bored and whiny. Don’t ask me how I know!"  

Thanks Stephanie for featuring my post! To see more click HERE.


Christina from I Gotta Create wrote this on her blog. "It's that time of week to see what all you wildly original creative folks are to!

There were so many great projects last week. Since I've never featured "great tips" posts, here are a few to check out from last week's party."

Thank you so much Christina for featuring my post. To the other featured posts please click HERE.


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  1. what a great list of tips I love to thrift shop
    come see me angie at annies home ( )

  2. Thank you for the tips! I'm just beginning to repurpose/upcycle . So I will be hitting the thrift stores often.
    I found your blog through the Weekday Mixer! :)

  3. I love thrift stores and have a slight obsession with them. This is a great list of tips and very useful. Have a great day!!

  4. Great tips,,.. I agreed with all of them.. well, the hoarder's tip about getting rid of one thing if you buy one thig. What if you buy 25 things, does that mean you have to get rid of 25 things you already have? :) Your friend, Linda

  5. Thats quite a list and all great advice too. Thanks for sharing.

    X x

  6. These are all great tips! It makes me think that every time we go thrift shopping that we're preparing for a month long adventure ha ha! Better to be safe than sorry :)

  7. I just recently got into thrift store shopping and I love it. Thanks for the tips.

  8. Wow - I thought I was a die hard thrifter until I read this! What a thorough list. The only thing I'd add (because this happened for me recently) is if you see a chair or table you want that is part of a set, you can ask the manager if they are willing to break up the set. I recently wanted a bench that was part of a dining set. The manager separated it for me and I got it for $10!

  9. I'm visiting from Adorned from Above. I grew up shopping at thrift stores and still continue the addiction with my Mom. These are great tips!
    ~Erin @ Erin’s 2 Cents

  10. I love finding treasures that people don't want anymore. Thank you for sharing on our Four Seasons Blog Hop. Pinning Now.

  11. Great thrift shopping tips. I go about once a month, but my mother hits her favorite stores weekly. She has found some great deals. I am stopping by from the LOBS party.

  12. Great tips! Super helpful! Thanks for sharing on Whatever Wednesday at Thank You Honey! Have a fabulous weekend! Hope to see you next week!

  13. These are amazing tips most of which I would never have thought of! Thank you!!! :D

  14. I love #8! I do the same thing- I call it "dating"... glad to see that I'm not the only one who does it!

  15. Saw this on Pinterest--what a great list! Pinning. :)

  16. Thanks for linking up at the Weekend Wind Down Link Party!

    And I'd add that another great time to look for thrift store bargains at places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army is at the end of the year or beginning of the new year. People donate at the end of the year wanting that tax deduction, so items are sorted and put out shortly afterwards.

  17. Wow this is such a great list :) thanks so much for sharing at Creative mondays, featuring and pinning your post this week over at the blog hop...

  18. Great tips and I was happy that I already do most of them! I really need to get a smartphone to look things up but usually I go on instinct and just buy anyways! One tip from me that works everytime.....go around the store twice! I always find something I have to have the second time around!!

  19. Thanks so much for sharing with Adorned From Above's Link Party.
    Have a great week.
    Debi and Charly

  20. These are some great tips!! I do really need to have a small list of things I'm looking for. I do it for menu planning - why not in this case too. Thanks for linking up at Take it on Tuesday!
    ~ Betsy @ Romance on a dime

  21. Wow, what an extensive list - thanks for sharing and linking up at the #WWDParty.

  22. Good tips, that I'll put to use the next time I go thrift shopping. :-) Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop; I hope you'll join us again this Thursday.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

  23. Darlene, and here I thought I was a prepared thrifter. You are soooo organized. I want to go thrifting with you! Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday on Organized 31.

  24. Great tips Darlene! We love thrifting. Thanks for sharing at the My Favorite Things Party. Hope to see you again this week Theresa @DearCreatives

  25. Hi great tips. Another tip is for things that can't be washed but that may still harbour insects such as head lice or bed bugs, several weeks in a home freezer is supposed to kill them. I have used this as a precaution for wool items.

  26. I am falling in love with thrift stores and #9 has happened to me more than once. Thanks for the tips!