Thrift Store Shopping Tips From a Thrift Store Junkie

thrift store shopping tips

Thrift store shopping is one of my favorite types of shopping! Finding the best deals at thrift stores, though, is a cross between an art and a science. You really need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to get the most bang for your buck in a thrift store.

Keep these thrift store shopping tips from a thrift store junkie in mind next time you find yourself in Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or any other thrift store…

Make Friends

This is one of the best thrift store shopping tips that I can give anyone! Always get to know and be pleasant with the employees at the thrift stores you visit. Once you do, they will often tip you off to upcoming sales, show you where the good stuff’s stashed, and even give you a small extra discount or two from time to time. My favorite thrift store employees at my local Goodwill also give me an extra stamp on my rewards card if I’m “close enough” to the $10 minimum. Which brings me to…

Become a Rewards Card Holder

Yes – thrift stores do have rewards cards! My local Goodwill hands out small cardboard business cards, which they stamp once for every $10 you spend in a single transaction. For instance, if I spend $52 in one transaction (busy day, but it’s happened), I’ll get 5 stamps. Once I fill the card with 10 stamps, I can get 50% off my next purchase. Some thrift stores might also have more high tech scannable rewards cards, much like other store rewards cards. If you aren’t offered a rewards card when you checkout, ask your cashier if this is available.

Grab It Quick

Here’s one of the most important thrift store shopping tips, especially if you’re in a very busy thrift store. If you see something you think you might like, grab it quick before it’s snatched away. It’s not uncommon to find that an item you were considering purchasing disappear when you go back for it. You can sort through all of the items you grab before you checkout. Just be sure to put the items you don’t want either back where you found it or in designated drop-off spots.

Skip the Cart

Whenever I see a person trying to push their way through a thrift store with a huge shopping cart, I resist the urge to stop them and give them a few thrift store shopping tips and advice. Most thrift stores have carts, but I prefer to either bring my own reusable bag or use a plastic basket during impromptu trips. It’s easier to carry these than to maneuver a bulky cart through busy and often tight thrift store aisles.

Set a Limit

Setting a limit and sticking to it is another one of the most important thrift store shopping tips. If you don’t set a limit to how much you’re willing to spend, you could end up going overboard and spending way more than you wanted to.

Pause Before Buying

This is one of those handy thrift store shopping tips regarding items that you aren’t sure about. If you don’t absolutely need it and you’re really unsure about something, wait. I just did this twice lately for two different coats – a big flowing fuzzy one and a sleek black leather jacket. My waiting paid off, and I ended up purchasing each coat for $2 a piece on sale days. Score!

Inspect Everything From Every Angle

A list of thrift store shopping tips wouldn’t be complete without this one. Always, always, ALWAYS inspect items thoroughly before you buy them. Look at the overall condition of the item and check for any stains and damage, including loose threads. If an item still looks brand new or just gently worn, it may be a good buy. When it comes to clothes, try them on and make sure they fit first. If you’re considering an electronic purchase, plug it in first to make sure it works.

Be Aware of the Sales

This is the mother of all thrift store shopping tips! Nearly every thrift store has sales, so make sure you know what and when they are. For instance, my local Goodwill has different colored tags placed randomly on items; in any given week, one color is half off, and one color is only $.39. Sale colors change every Monday, so I usually try to head to the store early on this day, before everything is picked over. If you aren’t sure when your sales are, be sure to ask the thrift store employees that you made friends with before.

Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite thrift store shopping tips?