“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.” – John D. Rockefeller

There was a time when thrift stores had a reputation for being ripe with odd smells and weird polyester clothing, covered perhaps with a thin layer of grime or stains. However, in recent years thrift stores have really cleaned up their act and the quality of goods offered. Celebrities, designers, and soccer moms alike all have found themselves on occasion sorting through the racks of clothing or stacks of furniture with an eye out for that one perfect item. Some scavengers have an eye for procuring the lust worthy finds, but with a few tips almost anyone can learn how to save big at the thrift store.

 Recon The Store

  • Since the stores rely on donations, heading to an upscale area can mean higher quality items. Well-to-do neighborhoods offer a jackpot of designer clothing for next to nothing prices. Although, be warned – sometimes those stores off the beaten path have just as much in stock with less competition among shoppers.
  • Guess what, even thrift stores have sales! Some stores offer 50% off on particular days, while others will simply have certain designated areas for items on sale. Scout out your store beforehand to familiarize yourself with how it works.
  • Ask for referrals. Fellow thrifters love to brag about a good score. Get them to share their inside information on where to go.
  • Find out when new items go out on the floors. While this happens daily at most places, some stores tend to “stock” certain sections on specific days. Be the first to know, and you’ll get your choice of the best new goods!
  • Once in the store, scan it to get an idea of the layout. It will allow you to cruise quickly and efficiently with less likelihood of getting “stuck” in one spot.

Be Prepared

  • Even with the nicest store, chances are good you will want to have gone to the bathroom, brought your own water, and been well rested prior to hitting the aisles. No one makes good decisions while hungry and thirsty!
  • Decide what your “priority items” are. This may be based on a specific need, or merely on what you are most comfortable with purchasing used. Many brands like Pfaltzgraff are lifetime brands, which means a quality item no matter where you find it.
  • Determine how much you plan on spending and have it in cash. This is true for nearly all shopping situations. Even at the Goodwill, you may be surprised on how quickly you shop right out of your budget.

Get Creative

  • Consider alterations, adjustments or quick changes that might make that almost-perfect jacket a winner. Maybe you can swap out the buttons or remove shoulder pads. 
  • Can you paint, strip, stain or somehow altogether re-do a piece of furniture? Not sure where to even start? Try looking at Pinterest and other blogs for inspiring ideas.
  • Know what’s in style but feel like thrift stores are too “left over”? Look at the accessories instead. Belts, scarves, and jewelry are quick, easy ways to add more to your closet without committing to clothing.

Granted, thrift stores may not be for everyone, but they are increasingly popular for many shoppers. You may even get a little rush if you save big at the thrift store – especially if it only took twenty dollars from your pocket. Remember, it’s all about timing, persistence, and {of course} having fun!