• Jenn Kalchik

Thrift Store Shopping Tips You'll Actually Use

I used to hate going to my local Goodwill when I was a kid. However, I didn't know what I was missing. Thrift shopping can seem overwhelming but it can be fun and cost-efficient. Shopping at thrift stores has become an art form and hobby for me. These thrift store shopping tips will make your next thrift store visit worthwhile.

Shop your next size up

Since clothing items are most likely pre-owned, they may have some wear to them. When you're shopping for clothes, it's a good rule of thumb to look for clothing items in the next size up from what you normally wear. If you get the chance to try on clothes at the store, wear form-fitting layers in case there's no formal fitting room.

Know when to shop

Just like retail stores, thrift stores have schedules for sales and restocking. The trick to thrift shopping is to shop frequently. If you know the schedule, you can plan ahead for items to look at if they're newly stocked or marked for a discount. Goodwill normally does sales based on the color of tags, but other stores have a similar system you should track.

Have a goal

Do you need new work clothes? What about adding new books to your bookshelf? When you shop at a thrift store, it helps to have a goal. It can help keep you on track and narrow your focus so you're not overwhelmed. It can also help to set goals on what NOT to look at. At my last visit, I recently donated excess kitchen items, so I knew I didn't need to look for kitchen items.

Donate items before you shop

As mentioned above, my last trip I brought items to donate I no longer needed. I always make it a requirement that if I'm shopping at a thrift store for new-to-me items, I need to donate items I no longer require. While I'm packing up my house right now to move to Wisconsin, I'm setting aside piles of items to donate and piles to pack, so I'm not bringing excess items to our new home.

Watch out for nostalgia items

When I first started thrift shopping, I owned a VHS player and I was purchasing VHS tapes to add to my media library. They took up a lot of space and, they were pretty dated. Now that I have access to more streaming networks, it didn't make sense to keep purchasing VHS tapes. While it might be a fun trip down memory lane if you purchase something nostalgic, you need to think carefully if you actually need the item.

Items to NEVER buy in a thrift store

  • Swimsuits

  • Undergarments

  • Old dishes

  • Appliances

  • Mattresses and pillows

  • Old hardware

  • Rugs

  • Cribs

  • Old cookware

Don't buy something just because it's cheap

While an item might be marked at a great price, it could require some serious maintenance and extra costs to repair. If it's something you can do yourself, and actually want to repair yourself, go ahead and purchase it. If it's something that's beyond repair or will require extreme maintenance to restore, you can skip it. And don't forget to seriously evaluate an item to make sure you will actually use it/wear it.

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