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Thrifting Tips, Secrets & Hacks

Whether you’ve never thrifted before or you’re an experienced thrifter, we’ve rounded up these tips, secrets, and hacks for shopping at a thrift store.

Thrifting Tips, Secrets, & Hacks
  • Make Friends With the Thrift Store Staff: The staff can help you while shopping and also give you valuable information, such as when new merchandise comes in, restocking days, upcoming sales, and the clothing they are looking to buy for the store.
  • Find Discounts: Most thrift stores have deals of the day for a specific colored tag. Others have deals on specific days.
  • Donate: Many thrift stores have discounts when you donate clothes or other items.
  • Discounted Gift Cards: Buy discounted thrift store gift cards on used online gift card sites.
  • Join Email Lists, Follow Social Media: Get updates, coupons and sales announcements.
  • Shop the Store on Restock Days: Ask when the store restocks and get first pick at any new item.
  • Shop the First Day Items are Marked Down: Most stores have a color of tag that goes on sale each week on the same day. Learn your store’s markdown timing.
  • Shop Weekdays, Not Weekends: Everyone shops on weekends, the store will be crowded, and inventory will be picked over. Find the best items during the week.
  • Shop Off-season: Just like regular department stores you can find discounts on summer items in the winter and vice versa.  
  • Shop as Seasons Change: Shop when the weather starts to change because that’s when people usually clean out their houses and donate things to thrift stores.
  • Download Store Apps: Many thrift stores will have exclusive deals or coupons only available on their mobile app.
  • Learn Each Store’s Specialties: One store may be the best for clothing, and another for furniture. Even the same thrift store chain will carry different items in different areas.
  • Research Prices: Use the online stores like ebay and Tradesy to find out if the price tag is a deal or not.
  • Negotiate Price: If the item is damaged don’t be afraid to ask for a deeper discount especially if the same item on display is undamaged and marked at the same price.
  • Due Diligence: Do your due diligence before buying anything. Just because it’s on sale at a thrift store doesn’t mean it’s a bargain.
  • Neighborhood Matters: As a general rule, the nicer the neighborhood, the nicer the thrift store, the location of the thrift store matters a lot. If you are searching for name brand, high quality clothing, consider shopping in a more affluent neighborhood. If you’re hunting for vintage furniture and home goods, then a neighborhood with an older population might be your best bet.
  • Sell Your Pre-Loved Items First: Increase your budget by selling your items at a thrift or consignment store or online prior.
  • Dress Appropriately: Many thrift stores don’t have fitting rooms, so you might need to wear something you can easily slip secondhand clothing over to try on.
  • Discern Quality: Higher quality clothes have linings. Wood is better quality than Veneer. Natural materials will often be of higher quality than synthetic ones. Learn to discern quality.
  • Label Resource: Use Label Resource to learn more about vintage clothing you can’t readily identify.
  • Vintage Clothing: Always try the clothes on and remember that vintage clothing sizes often differ from modern clothing sizes.
  • Tape measure: If you are looking for furniture or home décor items, bring a tape measure to make sure the items will fit in your space at home.
  • Know Your Measurements: It helps to really know your measurements, spouse, children or whoever you’re shopping for.
  • Look Everywhere: Look through every section of the store. Don’t just look for good brands or labels, find unique pieces.
  • Check Thrift Store Online Sites: Some stores put their best items online and others even have their own ebay store front.
  • Watch Out for Thrift Gentrification: “Thrift store gentrification” is when shoppers buy merchandise from second-hand clothing stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army for resell at higher prices. This can cause higher prices online and in stores.
  • Wash the Clothes & Clean Items: You’re buying used items so always wash the clothing before wearing them and clean disinfect items before using.
  • Hand sanitizer. Thrift stores can be dirty, so stay healthy and keep clean.
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Monique McArthur
Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.