Maximizing your Thrift Store Shopping Adventure

Once only a place that only old ladies would go into and I would never have dared to admit I went to, in my late teens I needed a formal dress for an event and so I hit some thrift stores in England with my Mum. I knew exactly what I wanted (which is never a good plan when “thrifting”) I had my heart set on a Chinese dress, preferably a bright colour. A few hours and a mere 10 pounds ($15) later, I had found a red Chinese dress still with the tags on and in my size! I was thrilled, Mum was happy not to have to pay too much, and when friends asked where I got it I was proud to announce; the Oxfam Charity Shop.

I then arrived in America and found that thrifting had become quite in vogue. Maybe I’d grown up a little and admitting to wearing secondhand things didn’t matter that much. Or maybe it was just another place where I could satisfy my bargain hunting needs! Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty picky thrifter but I do love the thrill of a bargain hunt so last week I roped my good friend in and we hit a ritzy suburb in search of a new winter coat. I came home sadden and empty handed as it seems that as the economy has got worse, it’s drawn more people into thrift stores searching for deals. Don’t get me wrong, there are still deals to be got, but not quite as good as during the “glory days” of err, well, a couple of years ago.

Here’s how to get the most out of your experience:

Do the circuit. Don’t just go to one store. Hit a couple in your area and note the prices. One I found was ridciulously high priced for secondhand items.

Know the specials. Some stores offer deal days and discount their merhcandise. You may as week go on those days if you can and save a luttle extra.

Know the charity. I like to give to causes I believe in and you may too. If it matters to you, check into it first.

Give back. On your way in the door, drop off some of your old stuff. Right now a lot of thrift stores are really hurting for donations so be part of the answer!

Check them items carefully. They are used and sometimes not so gently. Check for stains, wear and tear, buttons missing, zippers and general pilling.

Take cash. Some stores don’t accept credit cards or checks.

Most stores don’t have dressing rooms so be prepared to slip a sweater on over the top of your t-shirt.

Be prepared to dig. Not everything is placed in neatly lined shelves in the right size order. Do sopme good hiunting to get the best deals and look hard for items still with tags on that have never been worn.

Shop in the morning when most places are getting the new things out.

Grab what you can if you like it and then assess it later before it gets taken!

I did a post last week about thrift stores and which ones people liked in the area. I got some great responses that you can read here.


  1. thrift store gordon says:

    Don’t forget to become friends with the person who runs the thrift store and they will hide things and think of you when they sort. Trust me, amazing things will happen.

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