My Top 3 Tips to Find the Best Thrift Store Items

Posted On Monday, August 13th, 2012
Filed Under: How To, shopping, Thrift Stores

How to thrift shop I frequently post my thrift store scores on the blog, Instagram {user: LookingFlyonaDime} and Facebook and the one statement I hear over and over again is, “you always find the best stuff” or I’m asked the question, “how do you find the best stuff?”

Though I’ve done a ton of posts on thrift shopping 101, thrift shopping commandments, etc, I’ll let you in on the three secret tips I utilize to always** find great stuff. Well, they’re really not secret since I’m telling you and honestly, anyone can utilize them for a great thrifting trip.

  • Go Back Often

I can’t stress this enough. Depending on the day or time you visit a store, you may walk away with a bag load of clothes or leave feeling disappointed. But shake off the disappointment and head back again. Try a different day and even a different time and/or ask the sales associate what’s the best day to come in. I’ve been on the quest to find some furniture for my new apartment, so my first trip was to the Salvation Army on 46th Street. I found absolutely nothing worth purchasing on one visit about two weeks ago, but this weekend, I hit the jackpot. For $80, I walked away with a lamp, two leopard chairs and a coffee table. Peep the chairs below {$15 each, I bought 2}. I’m doing a full post on the rest of the furniture at a later date.

thrift store furniture

  • Bring Friends

Though I tend to like thrifting alone, if you’re new to it or going to a major sale, let your homies help you out. I can’t even take credit for half of the pieces I found at the Housing Works Buy the Bag sale. I was with a group of three or four people and we helped each other by splitting up and when we found anything that worked for someone else’s body type or style, we swapped. Your friends act as another set of hands and eyes.

  • Take Your Time

How much time do you allot to a single thrift shopping trip? If you’re in and out of the store in 20 minutes, then that might be the reason you don’t find too many great pieces. Want to know how long I take to thrift? Hours. At the last Housing Works sale, we were there for three hours. Of course it didn’t feel like three hours, but yes, three hours of thrifting. I’m not saying you have to devote an entire afternoon to shopping, but if you’re not giving yourself time to find anything, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Allow at least an hour to go through the racks and I’m sure you’ll find a cheap chic gem or two or three.

**Also, I don’t “always” find amazing stuff. Trust me, I’ve walked out of stores empty handed or with only one or two pieces. Even thrifting pros can strike out from time to time.

Thrift shopping takes time and patience and trust me when I tell you, anyone, anywhere can do it successfully.

What have been your tried and true thrift shopping tips? If you’re new to thrifting, what issues do you run in to? And if you’re a thrift pro, what do you do differently now than when you first started thrift shopping?

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5 thoughts on “My Top 3 Tips to Find the Best Thrift Store Items

  1. omg, love those chairs! My best tip is to really just go back until you find something. There’s a nice thrift store near my job and I try to visit once or twice a week and I tend to find stuff. The inventory is always changing! 

  2. Hello! I wanted to ask a quick question; I’m starting an online thrift store of vintage and secondhand clothing. I’ve purchased almost all of my items from Goodwill and other similar places (e.g. Unique) for very cheap and want to sell my items for cheap as well. I wanted to ask what you recommend my policy on the condition of the pieces should be? Many of my items are dryclean only and to maintain low prices, I don’t want to clean items and just sell them as is (unless of course it has a bad order, stain, etc.).Do you think I can sell such items as long as I’m honest? Do you know the policies of brick-and-morter thrift stores? I just want to maintain low prices for my potential customers (I also plan to have a friendly return policy). Many if not all the items are great quality as well. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Here’s my beginner tip: Don’t buy stuff just because it’s cheap. Like, this weekend, a local thrift store had all kids clothes for 99 cents. People were going crazy. But the thing is, I bet if you went up to them on the street with some of the items of clothing and said, “Would you pay a dollar for this?” They’d say no. 

    If you find yourself saying, “But it’s only x amount!” That’s probably a sign you don’t really need/want it. Nothing is cheaper than the stuff you don’t buy.

    •  That’s a great tip and I always tell people to answer the question, “would I buy this if it was full priced?” If you’re only buying something because it’s “cheap,” that’s not a reason to purchase it!

  4. Love that you spend hours thrift shopping! Me too, and my best friend Justine. We start our “Girl’s Day Out” early with breakfast, and then hit one thrift store after another, stop for lunch, and pick it back up again until dinner! We have even been known to keep going after dinner if we have any energy left! We LOVE it!

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