Let’s face it: Sometimes going into a thrift store is a daunting task with the multitude of clothing racks, accessories, books, furniture – that’s just the beginning. However, with some help from a thrift store junkie, your next shopping trip could be a little easier on your head and wallet.
My love for thrift stores began when I was in university, because we all know how expensive school is – not to mention all the other bills that accumulate, including clothes. At first, I was skeptical of thrift stores and somewhat biased against buying someone else’s junk, but over the last few years thrift stores have become my haven and the following tips are what I’ve come up with and used to make smart shopping easy.
1. If you’ve never been to a thrift store before, it’s a good idea to check out various shops in your community to see what they have to offer. Various thrift stores carry various items for an array of prices.
2. Set a limit on how much to spend at each store. Set a maximum depending on your budget, such as of $20 per store, to ensure you don’t go over your limit.
3. Take your time shopping, because thrift stores can be overwhelming with the excessive inventory and size of the store. Take the store in and navigate from one section to the next. This makes it easier the next time you go back because you’ll know where everything is and won’t need to waste time wandering around trying to find the right section.
4. After you’ve familiarized yourself with your chosen thrift store, go home and look through any old clothing and household items you don’t need anymore. A good rule of thumb is for every new item you take into your house, you should give one back that you don’t use.
5. Because shopping in a thrift can turn out just as costly as shopping in a regular store, a budget is very important. If you see something you like on your bargain hunting adventures, write the price of the item(s) down, and take a photo of the item(s) with your phone. This way when you go back to shop, you’ll know what to get and how much money you’ll need. Take cash instead of your debit/credit card to stay within your budget.
6. If you’re buying clothing, try them on first. It can save so much hassle from getting home and realizing that the pair of jeans you loved doesn’t fit. If you don’t have time to try them on, ask the manager about return and exchange policies.
7. Don’t be afraid to do a little tailoring. Just because that article of clothing is too big, doesn’t mean you can’t do a little nip and tuck to make it fit. This can still cost less than paying the big bucks in retail stores.
8. Remember that a thrift store is more than just clothes and footwear. You can also find inexpensive ways to furnish an apartment, buy books (even text books for school), kitchen appliances and bedding.
9. Haggle. Yes, it can still happen in a thrift store. If you see an item that you like and feel it’s slightly over-priced, it doesn’t hurt to ask if management will drop the price.
10. There are a few items you may want to pass on in a thrift store, such as mattresses, appliances, car seats, strollers, cribs, high chairs, swings, running shoes, make-up and underwear. These items are best left for the retail stores and all the extra money you’ll save at the thrift store will come in handy for bigger expenses like these.
11. Find out when inventory comes in – this way you’ll know when new items arrive and won’t miss out on any bargains. However, if you see something you like, you’re better off buying it right away. Waiting and going back doesn’t always work in this first-come-first-serve type of atmosphere.
12. There are some thrift stores, like Value Village, that offer shoppers a Super Savers Club Card. It’s free to sign up and you can get some really awesome sales. I’ve seen sales where all clothing, accessories and bedding is 50% off, and this club card gives shoppers the opportunity to get the items they want before the sale is open to the public. So, those $20 pair of boots you wanted, just cost you $10!
Shopping at a thrift store is fun, easy and cost-effective, and by using these simple steps you’ll be able to navigate them much better. If these tips helped you, or if you know of any more that will help others, let us know in the comments below!