Thrift Shopping

Thrift Shopping: How to Find the Best Deals

Before Getting Getting to the Thrift Shop

Thrift shopping is one of the best ways to get some great items at bargain prices, so it’s no wonder that its popularity has exploded in recent years. You may have tried it out yourself, visiting a nearby thrift store and looking for second-hand items. However, you might’ve found yourself overwhelmed and unsure about what to pick or, rather, how to pick. That’s perfectly understandable.

Finding the best thrift shop deals takes a bit of skill. You need a discerning eye to spot the best finds, the willpower to stay within budget, and a lot of patience while checking every item; those are just the basics. Here are a few other things to keep in mind before, during, and after your next thrifting spree.

Being prepared is a good practice in anything, and this is especially true for thrifting. When you’re prepared, you’ll know what to look for, what to expect, and how you can adjust to unexpected situations.

Sell, Donate or Give Away Your Old Clothes

Thrifting is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable practices out there. However, you won’t be really doing much if you end up just throwing your old clothes away. They’ll end up in landfills and contribute to the pollution problem. Instead, find a way to give away or sell old clothes. You’ll be able to clear up space for your thrift haul and add a few bucks to your budget.

There are many platforms out there where you can sell them, from consignment stores to online shops. However, selling and gifting aren’t your only options; you can also repurpose the garments into rags or donate them to a charity or your local thrift shop. Some thrift shops offer in-store credit for your donated goods, be sure to check!

Know What Premium Looks and Feels Like

This is the knowledge that you acquire over time, but it’s good to brush up on this before you visit the thrift store, especially if you’re looking for clothing. Finding authentic premium items is one the most satisfying experiences ever, but it takes a good eye to spot them.

There are many guides online to help you spot the real deals, so read up on what genuine leather feels like, the telltale signs of a designer shoe, or the qualities of a handmade handbag. You’ll find lots of tips compiled by experienced thrifters, so use this knowledge to your advantage!

Plan Your List

You wouldn’t go to the grocery store without a list, so don’t go to the thrift store without one, either. This will help you focus on what you need to buy and help you stay within your budget. You’ll see a lot of things that you want to buy — the prices are cheap and the items are beautiful, so who can blame you? However, it’s best to avoid the temptation and stay on task.

If you need a compromise, you don’t have to make a strict list. Instead, you can create mood boards or collages of the look you want to have. That way, you can find items that fit the style or theme while still allowing for more freedom. Once that’s taken care of, your only limitation is your budget.

Dress for the Shopping Spree

Most thrift stores aren’t like typical boutique shops with AC, heating, and other luxuries. Some don’t even have fitting rooms. Make sure to wear something comfortable; the best attire for thrifting allows you to easily slip on items so you can check the fit while in the aisles.

The Thrift-shopping Begins

Okay, so you’ve finally arrived at the store. Before you start checking the aisles and sifting through the items, remember the following tips.

Check the Condition of the Items

You’re going to be purchasing second-hand items, so it’s a given that some of them will have flaws. There will be some that look like they’ve never been worn, but those will be few and far between. When thrifting, it’s recommended that you check the condition of the item to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product.

For clothing, you can check for tears and holes in the fabric, missing buttons or zippers, stains, and other common flaws. Inspect them in good lighting and cover every inch so you don’t miss anything. Flip it inside out and examine the collars, crotch, armpits, and other areas where stains or dirt can accumulate.

If you’re getting shoes, bags, or other accessories, watch out for damage and stains. You can also look inside for dirt, whether it’s the inner purses of a bag or the insole of a shoe. To test durability, find the seams of an item and see if the glue or threads are starting to give way. High-quality seams will stay intact even after a long time in storage.

Check the Fabrics

When thrifting for clothes, you can tell a lot about their quality by checking the material. The tags will usually list those, so it’s good practice to find and read them thoroughly. You won’t regret the extra effort of analyzing the fabric content.

In most cases, natural fibers like cotton provide the best breathability and comfort. There are also synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and spandex, which are more versatile. Leather is a premium material, but the artificial versions can be just as beautiful and durable thanks to today’s manufacturing standards.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

The things you’ll see while in a thrift store will tempt you. They’re so inexpensive, and what if someone else gets them before you return? All of these thoughts can lead to impulse buying, ending up with you going over your budget. To force yourself to stay within the amount you initially planned, pay only with the cash you have on hand — absolutely no credit cards. Leave those at home.

Scan the Aisles and Know the Store’s Layout

The thrift store can be a maze with all of the shelves and piles of clothes. Add the messy look during peak hours, and you have yourself a maze. Things can get confusing, and you won’t be able to cover much ground. To maximize your shopping haul, familiarize yourself with the store’s layout. This way, you’ll be able to easily find the bargains, the accessories, and the new arrivals.

You also need to have good scanning skills so you can easily spot where the items you want are located. Keep an eye out for the palette or motif of your preference. Don’t spend too much time in one aisle; you might miss gems if other customers grab them first.

Check the Fit if You Can

If you already know your measurements, you’ll have more certainty over the items you choose. However, foreign size charts can be confusing, so it’s good practice to check the fit of the items before buying them. You don’t want to bring home something too loose or too tight, especially items that can’t be altered.

Some thrift stores have fitting rooms, but others might not have them, so be sure to wear clothing that allows you to easily try on potential purchases. Make sure you find the mirrors in the shop; they usually have plenty.

Make Friends With the Staff

If you have a favorite thrift shop, it’s a good habit to make acquaintances with the personnel. They’ll recognize you as a frequent shopper, so you might get insider information like the next restocks or where to find authentic pieces. Plus, they can help you decide whether something looks good on you.

Now That the Shopping is Over

Now that you’ve brought your haul home, here are some ways to make your purchase worth it.

Have Your Items Tailored

Let’s face it: some items are just too good to pass up, so even if they have some damage or they’re a couple of sizes too big, you buy them anyway. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to make it work. Either brush up on your sewing skills or visit your local clothing alteration store and let them make your find fit your measurements.

Bags, shoes, and other accessories can be repaired by most tailors. You can even do it at home if the damages are only superficial. Just be sure that the repair work is thorough to make your investment absolutely worth it.

Follow Your Thrift Store Online

The best way to stay updated with upcoming sales or new releases is by following your favorite thrift store on social media. They usually post announcements and special events where loyal customers can get special discounts and other perks. Subscribing to their mailing list is also a great way to stay up-to-date on these things.


Finding the best thrift shop deals is a fun experience that helps you save money and care for the environment. Not only will you get premium products at bargain items, but you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint. By following the tips shared above, you can bring your next thrift haul to the next level, so make sure you’re being strategic before, during, and after thrifting. Have fun!

So, what are you waiting for? Get a plan, get to the thrift store, and pop some tags!

Any questions? Comment below. My lovely wife, Donna, is a manager at a thrift shop, if I don’t know the answer, I’d be happy to ask her!

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