Monday, December 8, 2014

PSP - Post Swap Program - "Thrift Store Shopping Tips"

God’s Growing Garden

Thrift Store Shopping Tips
by Darlene Nemeth from Let It Shine

Let It Shine

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.

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.
Thank you Darlene for sharing this wonderful post with us!


This article is part of the "Post Swap Program"  It's better than "Guest Posting" - this program is an equal swap - One blog post for another blog post.

God’s Growing Garden

If you are interested in participating in this program - please click on the button above & fill out the form link there - Thank You!


  1. I think having a small snack with you is a good idea. I always feel exhausted half way through a flea market.

    1. I agree - it can be exhausting. Darlene did an amazing job with this list of tips! Thanks so much for stopping by

  2. It is a long list! LOL! But thrift shopping can save one a LOT of $$$$

  3. Hi Angie. I just wanted to thank you for swapping blog posts with me. Your post was well received on my blog. Maybe we could do it again sometime in the new year. Thanks again. Best wishes, Darlene

    1. I agree Darlene - let's swap again sometime in 2015 - thank you so much!


Please feel free to leave comments or questions (no question is ever stupid) - They will show up on the blog once I have read through them.
Thank You.

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