Alright, so you want to be a pro thriftanista? Simply follow my top ten tips and you’re well on your way!
1) Have an open mind! First and foremost, set aside all stereotypes and predispositions you have about thrift stores and the idea of “buying used.” You would be amazed at the items people donate… some of which are brand spankin’ new! Not to mention the brands! – I have purchased brand-name items such as Coach, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana, BCBG, Dooney & Bourke, Marc Jacobs, plus many more, all for fractions of the retail price! But it’s not always easy… (reference tips #2, #3 & #6)
2) Be patient. Don’t expect to get a great find every time you go to a thrift store because you are setting yourself up for failure if you do. It simply takes time and well, luck! Which brings me to my next point…
3) Look… hard. Items aren’t just going to pop out at you like they would at Target. Sometimes it takes digging, sifting, and double-checking. But when you find that perfect item – you will realize it was worth the wait. It’s the thrill of the find my friends!
4) Avoid weekends (if possible). Thrift stores on weekends tend to be the busiest and offer the least amount of deals. Speaking of deals…
5) Pay attention to store specials. Just a few examples – Goodwill has a calendar each month posted on their website that provides the dates of various sales that will be going on; Savers offers 25% off all tags on Mondays; Small, local thrift shops will sometimes offer a “fill an entire paper bag for $5” deal; Consignment shops will offer up to 75% off based on how long an item has been in the store…the list goes on! It’s never a bad idea to call ahead or check out a store’s website beforehand to ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck. NOTE: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, MLK Day, and President’s Day are the thrifter’s equivalent to that of Black Friday for a retail shopper.
6) Be meticulous. Always thoroughly inspect items for damage. Most people donate items to thrift stores because they no longer have a need for them, but unfortunately there are some other people who donate an item because there is something wrong with it. Common things to look for – clothing stains, missing buttons, broken zipper or clasp, fabric snags, pilling on clothing, knicks or scrapes on household items, etc.
7) Get picky & particular. It is easy to get wrapped up in all the deals that thrift stores offer and to find yourself buying things just because it is a good brand at a good price. But ask yourself – “Is this something I will actually wear?” or, “Is this an item I can put to good use?” If not, then pass on the item and let it be someone else’s exciting find!
8) Know return policies. Many thrift stores allow you to return items, but usually only within seven days and with the tags still attached. Be careful of items that are non-returnable such as appliances, shoes and jewelry. As with any store, each one is different so be aware of the return policy before you purchase.
9) Donate. While it is great to utilize the awesome deals at thrift stores, it is also important to give back. I personally strive to donate something every time I buy something in order to keep the circle of “reduce, reuse, recycle” going. Once you find yourself no longer wearing or using an item, donate it… or there is always the option to consign to make some extra cha-ching!
10) Have fun! Once you get the hang of how thrifting works and discover the remarkable deals you can snag, you may very well become addicted! Plain and simple – high style doesn’t have to come with a high price tag, so say so-long to those high department store prices and enjoy the thrill of the fabulous frugal find! (Try saying that three times fast!)
“Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.”