Friday, May 10, 2013

5 thrift store shopping tips

thrift store shopping tips

Today I'm sharing my top 5 thrift store shopping tips! I've posted several of my thrift store shopping trips here, and here, and here, as well as some thrifted outfits here and here. In real life I get asked lots of questions about how I find the good finds. I hear "I just couldn't find anything!" or "I didn't even know where to start," all the time!

I'll be following this post up with tips on what kinds of things I always look for, how to recognize quality, and what not to buy, but for starters here are my top 5 thrifting tips!



1. Go. Often.

If you really want to find the amazing finds, there is no other way to thrift. You have to go All. The. Time. A casual thrifter might find something cute if they're lucky, but if you know your stores and you go often, that's how you find the real, honest-to-God amazing deals.

thrift store shopping tips
Brand new leather Fossil wallet for only $6! Tags still on this baby.

If you go often, you also have the benefit of learning when the new merchandise gets put out on the floor, and what color tags will be on sale at what times. Which brings me to tip #2:

2. Know what the sale/color tag days are.

This is seriously valuable information! Some stores, like Savers, will have days where all tags of a certain color are only $.99. You can do a lot of experimenting for only $.99! Most stores will have color tags that are 50% off all week long, and sometimes stores like Goodwill, Savers, and Salvation Army will have days where everything in the whole store is 50% off! Knowing which days these are and getting there early will get you far.

thrift store shopping tips
These Coach shoes were expensive for thrift at $30, but I got them on 50% off day for only $15!

3. Know your fabrics and brands, especially fabrics!

This has been the the most instrumental thing for me in learning to thrift! About five years ago I read an amazing book called Secondhand Chic by Christa Wiel, and it changed the way I thrift store shop! I actually spent some time learning about higher end brands, and especially learning about quality fabrics. Sometimes you might not recognize the label or brand of an item of clothing, due to it being foreign or vintage, but if you recognize 100% silk, linen, cashmere...you recognize quality even if your smartphone doesn't get cell service and you can't check an item's value on ebay!

thrift store shopping tips
I didn't recognize the brand of this dress, but I recognized quality fabric. Turns out it was Anthropologie!

4. Keep a (tentative) list of what you're looking for.

My list has practically everything from every department! Right now it includes a dining room table, a pair of neon yellow shorts, blue and white striped T-shirt, reading work books for my daughter, a red trench coat, shoes for my growing son (in every size), shirts for my husband, jewelry I can tear apart for the beads, and summer dresses. Whew!

I keep my list on my phone or in my head, and lately I've started a Pinterest board with my thrift shopping list. I find it's easier for me to remember those images then to simply write things down.

thrift store shopping tips
A (small) part of my collection of jewelry for wearing and/or repurposing

In the past I've had things like cowboy boots (real leather only!), jeans, classic leather shoes...you get the idea!

Your list doesn't have to be season specific, either. Some of the best deals come from finding off season clothing, so keep your eyes open for winter clothes during the summer months, and don't forget to look at the tank tops in the winter.

5. Look for things other then clothing!

You might never know it, but some of my favorite things to look for at thrift stores are actually not clothing! I love looking for toys for my kids, art work, books for myself and the kids, dishes, etc.

thrift store shopping tips
Vintage Polly Pocket set for $.99. My daughter and I collect them together!
Toys are my special weakness, especially since they're so cheap! It's hard to say no to my kids when I'm spending less then $1, but dang it I do try.

Some other non-clothing items I always look at are dishes, mugs, plastic plates (there are four kids in my house almost every day!), books for myself and the kids, vintage bed linens, craft supplies, and the list goes on and on. If I have time, I try to at least glance through every department. Some of my best finds have been found outside of the clothing department! I once found a gorgeous 1930's end table whose table top had an inset vintage radio, for only $25. It was the perfect Christmas present for my dad, who collects old radios! I would never have found it if I simply limited myself to shopping for dresses and jeans.


Well that's it for starters, but I would love to hear some tips from some other seasoned professional thrifters. Do you have a thrifting tip that you consider invaluable? I'd love to hear it! Even though I've been thrifting literally my whole life, I'm still always looking to learn from other people who do it better then me!

~ Jessica

P.S. Linking up with these amazing parties here, and at Huckleberry Love!

48 comments:

  1. What a great article! I have not been thrift store shopping since college but I used to love it! I have tons of great t-shirts, that's what we always went for but now that I'm married and have a home I want to go look for other stuff! Thanks for sharing. I came over from Craftionary Link Party! Hope you will check out my blog.

    lovepastatoolbelt.com

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    1. I sure will! Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. Great Tips!!!! Love that Polly Pocket set. I find that it takes work to dig through everything. I used to just kind of glance but I have learned to go through every single hanger ... that's how you find treasures! :) pippa

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    1. I agree! Going through everything is when you find the good stuff, usually crammed underneath 15 other items you don't want. I'm always in awe of your finds, thanks for checking out our blog, Pippa!

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  3. Great tips! I usually find I shop for everything but clothing! I just bought myself a condo and will likely be making a lot more trips to the thrift store!

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    1. You should give clothing a chance! I've found some amazing clothes at thrift stores. It can be frustrating, but nothing beats finding a HOBO clutch for $3, or Coach shoes for $15. It's worth looking for sure!

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  4. Great tips! Can Polly Pockets be vintage already? Makes me feel old, loved those!

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    1. I know! I was obsessed with them as a child, which makes it so much cooler to be able to find them cheaply with my daughter. But yeah, it totally makes me feel old!

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  5. Lots of great tips. I feel like I'm constantly at my local thrifts. They know me by name now! Ha

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    1. We just moved to a new state, and a month in all the girls at the local Goodwill knew who I was, too!

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  7. Great tips! I want to go to thrift stores but I feel overwhelmed when I go in, and then I don't have the patience to go through everything. I tend to stick to the smaller thrift stores and not go to the larger (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.) because of feeling overwhelmed.I think your idea of keeping a list of things I want to look for is a great idea and would help me not feel that way. I found you at Diana Rambles and I will be reading all your other "here, here and here" tips! ;) Jill@ MamaGing.com

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    1. Don't feel overwhelmed! Having a list really helps a lot, because if you have something specific like "a red trench coat" on your list, you know to go right to the coats and look there. You are practically guaranteed to find treasures along the way!

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  8. Found you from A Peek into My Paradise blog hop. Great tips!

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  9. These are really helpful tips! I also start to feel overwhelmed in thrift stores, but this is some great advice to stay on track and come away with some great items! Thanks :)

    Jen
    drawingsunderthetable.blogspot.com

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  10. HI there! Found you thorugh Peek into my Paradise Blog Hop! I just started thrift shopping myself and LOVE it! Who would've thought you can find a Coach purse for less than $20??? WINNING!! LOL!

    Thanks for this! If you have some tim, stop by my Blog Party going on now :)

    Jessica
    http://thewonderingbrain.blogspot.com/2013/05/my-favorite-posts-show-off-weekend-blog_10.html

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  11. Great tips:) I love that Anthropologie dress...jealous! Stopping by from Craftionary

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  12. I remember those polly pocket sets, I loved them as a little girl! I'd love to do more thrifting but there just aren't that many options near me, I've found a few things once or twice when I've been but otherwise it's stuff I can't justify buying as it's so ick!

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    1. I thought that too about the stores in the area we just moved to. Sometimes it takes a little bit of exploring and going back once or twice, the real gems can be hidden behind all that junk! I just found a HOBO clutch purse for $2.95 last week at one of the "ickiest" places around here...I just stopped in on a whim!

      I'll be honest though, sometimes I also drive 30-45 minutes to the thrift stores in Boise proper so stuff is less picked over.

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  13. Great tips! The dress is fabulous, love the wallet too! Right now I find it super hard to make it to the thrift store regularly with a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old... But someday, I will get there OFTEN :) Right now I have to settle for when "I'm driving past and the kiddos are in a good mood"!

    Heidi

    handmadefrenzy.blogspot.com

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    1. I feel your pain! I have a four year old and a one year old, and sometimes it just seems impossible! That's part of why I keep the list, because most of the time I can only keep them engaged for maybe 15-30 minutes while I shop! The list streamlines the process and keeps me focused. Also, visiting the toy section first so they have something to occupy them!

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  14. Great tips! You really do have to go often (which is no problem because it is addicting, haha).

    I never read Secondhand Chic! I'll have to check it out...

    Tiff Ima
    Style Honestly

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    1. You should read it! That book seriously changed all of my shopping habits, secondhand and new.

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  15. My daughter's gym is around the corner from a huge Goodwill, so every week when I drop her off for cheer practice, I spend 2 1/2 stress free hrs thrifting. My tip is to look at everything, even if you don't think you have a need for it. I found a coach mini bag that way, which was still being sold in stores for $198.00, and I paid only $6 for it. It was in perfect condition too. I find designer clothing all the time that I sell at a local consignment shop, only when it doesn't fit anyone in my family of course. Any one who isn't thrifting is really missing out, IMHO.

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  16. wow you have gotten a ton of comments on this! I love to thrift shop and will be posting my thrift store shopping tips here soon as well! I love your site and I'm your newest follower! Follow me back at www.unpredictableandcihc22.blogspot.com
    XO COURTNEY

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  17. Lovely! Great stuff you have at a great bargain. Thank you for the great tips. This is very useful.
    Visiting from http://www.sewcando.com/2013/05/mothers-day-love-craftastic-monday-link.html
    Marge

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  18. Great tips! I really need to work on going more often. It just feels like there is no time! i would love to find some cute picture books for my son. It's mostly quite picked over, but a few months ago I found a copy of "Where the Wild Things Are" in pristine condition, score! And, of course, most of his wardrobe :)

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    1. Books are so hit or miss, depending on the store! In WA (where we just moved from) there was a hole in the wall thrift store that had THE BEST selection of children's books, for only $0.29! It was my secret store I only ever shared the location of with one friend, because it was such a great find!

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  19. My biggest tip is to search through EVERYTHING. The whole rack of black skirts LOOKS boring, but that's where you'll find some real diamonds! Or the whole rack of blue jeans, or white shirts. Because it doesn't look exciting, others overlook it!

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  20. Great tips! I'm not a frequent thrifter, but I would like to be! These tips will encourage me to get out there and do it! I popped over from A Bowl Full of Lemons--thanks for sharing!

    ~Abby =)

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  21. I've always wanted to like thrift stores, but never had any luck. Now I see why: I needed tips!

    Popping in from Oh, Mrs. Tucker!

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  22. Great tips! I <3 thrift shopping!

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  23. This is such a smart list. What a great strategy to thrift store finds. When my sister lived in Helena the thrift store by her house sold sewing patterns for 5 cents a piece, that was a favorite for me.
    With Love,
    Scary

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  24. Love the tips! I am also big on thrifting so I frequent thrift shops at least once a month. And I tell you, I've gotten quite a few great items for more than half the savings!

    I'd love it if you can drop by mine and check out my latest post: www.fashchronicles.blogspot.com

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    1. I will be sure do to that! Thanks for stopping by!

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  25. Wow, such an amazing bunch of tips. Will be sharing this around so that everyone gets the message. I already done most of the tings you mention, specially the list thing. But it's always good to be reminded.
    Eddie

    Eddie's Room on Facebook come over for some crafty ideas and conversation. :-)

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  26. Thanks for the tips! I'm just starting to want to get into thrifting. I used to get a little weirded out about it, but I'm so anxious to give it another try after all the deals I've seen people get! Thanks again!

    Www.exploringdomesticity.blogspot.com

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  27. Great tips! I am a thrift store lover myself. Love the idea of keeping a list on my phone of what to look for. Thanks so much!

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  28. I am addicted also. If you are looking for furniture or remodeling supplies check your local Habitat for Humanity store, called ReStore. Some of them have general household stuff too.

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    1. The ReStore is one of Hilary's favorite places! She is much more into thrifting home decor then clothing. I am going to make her post her tips of shopping for thrifted furniture.

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  29. I think the fabric tip is a great one! That fossil wallet is an awesome find.
    - Lora

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  30. Lovethese tips! Definitely pinning this... Here from Ninth Street Notions.
    http://solaceamidthechaos.blogspot.com

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  31. Great post, I have been thrifting since the 80's and find some fantastic items.

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  32. Great tips! =)
    Im following you on Bloglovin from "Thursday Favorite Things" blog hop.

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  33. Thanks so much for the great shopping tips. I have a routine of where I go at Goodwill to find things I want.
    I started out going to our closest thrift store for books to read. Not too bad at 50 cents for hardbacks and 25 cents for paperbacks. I've got quite a library now of books I really enjoy reading and I can afford it. I've gotten clothes, bras like new for 50 cents. Just today hubs found 2 pair of shorts that look like new for $2.00 each pair. I bought several pair of pull on jeans for $3 a pair this past winter. We're on Ss so it helps so much to find great deals.
    There are about 5 other thrift stores in Grand Junction, CO but we live about 20-25 miles from all of them so we don't get to go as often. It kills me but you can only do what you can. We have a Restore also but it's really far from where we live (18 miles west of G.J.) and it's on south east side of G.J.
    Our daughter bought a 40's dining set with beautiful table/6 chairs from our local store a few years ago now. Her hubs gel stained it and it looks like a high end dining set. It's just gorgeous and she only paid $30 for all of it. I still have skirts I bought at local thrift, I'm just crazy about thrift shopping. Wish we had the cash to buy furniture we find at shops so we could redo and sell.
    Sounds like there's many many thrift shoppers, I enjoyed reading all the comments. My DIL complimented me on an outfit I had on and was shocked when I told her I bought it at a thrift shop. I got a really cute spring jean jacket for $3 a few years ago, still wearing that baby. Happy days thrift shoppers.

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