Most people know that thrift store shopping is an excellent way to save money on everything from household goods to children’s clothing, but do you know the secrets to saving EVEN MORE at thrift stores and getting the best value for your dollar? Here are some tips to help you as you head out to go thrift store shopping the next time!
Thrift Store Shopping Tips
Know brand new prices on things
While most deals at thrift stores are pretty good compared to retail, occasionally someone doing the pricing will place a tag that is far too much for an item. I once was in the market for curtains, a very specific brand that was from Target, and happened to see those exact ones at Goodwill with the tags still attached. Of course, I already knew the price of them new at Target were $30, but the Goodwill pricing was $40! Goodwill is a store that checks out a lot of the inventory before they put it on the shelves. Don’t believe me? Go to eBay, and Half.com and search. Goodwill sells massive amounts of stuff on both online markets! Make sure you’re armed with info. It helps to have a general idea of what certain brands cost, so you don’t get charged more than buying something new.
When buying something that has a lot of pieces, examine carefully if all the parts are there
I never buy games at thrift stores, I just know all the pieces are not going to be there. Also, I’ve lost money with electronics that don’t work. Ask if you can test electronics and appliances in store as these are often sold “as is” with no returns at all if the item doesn’t work!!! If a store won’t let you test it, walk away. Trust me, it’s NOT worth it. However, some stores actually have a plug-in with signs available for customers to test items, which i think is pretty cool.
Know which thrift stores have the best merchandise
Even if you are comparing like stores, like, let’s say there are two Goodwill’s on different ends of the town. One might be priced well and have fantastic items, whereas the other one is just overpriced junk. Know which stores have the best merchandise. Know when they stock the shelves, usually Monday’s are the best, because more people donate on the weekends than any other time of the week. Once you’ve visited the stores that sell junk a few times, don’t bother wasting your gas going back to them. Just hit the ones that you know are good. Unfortunately, where I live now, the whole area, doesn’t have good thrift stores at all, so I rarely go, but when I was in Oregon, they have really good stores all over that state.
Visit thrift stores outside your area
There are two stores that I always hit while traveling. Target and the good thrift stores in the area. Because I’ve traveled so much, I know where many of them are. Any time I go past that area, I stop for a break. Not only does it get us out of the car for a few minutes and we can stretch our legs, but I’ve come across some amazing sales. This is what I did when I used to resell. I used to make a killing doing that. It not only provided for our home financially, but I also found a lot of good deals for our family as well.
Use all your senses when you are in the store
Examine everything for funky smells, sharp edges that are not supposed to be there, broken parts, missing pieces like buttons, zippers that don’t zip up, and cleanliness. While things do not have to be pristine (and you shouldn’t expect it), they should not be filthy. If a store has a vibe to me that is unpleasant or dirty, I leave. It’s not worth saving money if I’m just going to get someone else’s bed bugs or something, you know. Bringing something like that into my home. No way! Not worth it! Everything you buy should be easily cleaned and sanitized. Whatever I buy from a thrift store, or yard sale for that matter, whatever it is, gets cleaned thoroughly before use. Another great idea is to keep a bag in your car solely for thrift store finds. Something that zips up and you can keep separate from your stuff until it is properly cleaned.
Make sure you try on everything
This includes children’s clothing as well as adult’s. The reason being is that since these clothes are used, they are likely not always the size it says on the tag. This is from many times being washed and wore and it stretches the fabric out (or even shrinking it).Plus, trying clothes on first helps you get a better picture of if you will like it since many thrift stores do not offer cash back for returns and some do not take returns at all. Another good reason to try clothing on is that you will often not see tears, rips, holes, or stains in the fabric until you do. I can’t tell you how many times I thought an article of clothing was in perfect condition only to try it on and see why the last person may have gotten rid of it, and I have a great inspection eye on the hanger, but even then, sometimes the hangers or price tags do not match the actual item size.
Know when the store runs sales
Many stores run discount days with certain colored tags or certain clothing items. Prices can be up to 50% off, so you’ll want to look for those colored tags/dots. Some stores even run specials around holidays or back to school. Ask if there is a way to get a newsletter when sale days are coming up to rake in extra savings.
Donate for extra savings
Not only are your donations a loving gesture that can help someone else, but they can actually save you money or give you a tax break. Most thrift stores are non-profits so ask for a tax slip when you donate. Also, one of my local thrift stores offers a 30% off coupon for donations made during certain promotional periods.