Last night we headed over to Goodwill. It’s school spirit week and my kids needed to wear purple. Our closets are like rainbows, but apparently we don’t wear purple very often. So, to the thrift store we went. I always figure, I’ll check there before heading off to the regular retail stores.
I found a purple sweatshirt for my son and cute purple top for my daughter. Then I spied two adorable, brand new tops. I tried them on and loved them both. When we got to the register, I was still undecided about one of the tops. I wanted it, but wasn’t sure I wanted to pay the sticker price for it.
I held the shirt up to the young cashier and said, “What do you think? Is it worth the money?”
“I like it a lot.” she said, “And it goes with your jacket.”
I looked at it again and she said, “Wait. What’s the date on that tag?”
Turns out the shirt had been hanging around the store for a few months and she was able to sell it to me for half price.
That cashier was sweet for going the extra mile. I couldn’t thank her enough.
I enjoy thrift store shopping, but I have a few guidelines that help me navigate the overwhelming sea of clothes and get the best deals from thrift stores.
You know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover? Well, don’t judge a thrift store by the way it looks or maybe even smells. Be risky. Take a chance on a shop. You may be surprised by what you find.
Thrift stores are filled with a bunch of junk, but the smart shopper sifts through the less than desirable items and finds the gems. Scoring thrift store deals takes time, patience, and a keen eye. Make it your mission to uncover the bargains.
Know Your Brands
Knowing your brands is paramount. I don’t want to go to a thrift store and buy a shirt from Walmart. It’s just my opinion, but buying crappy clothes from a thrift store doesn’t make much sense. Have a discerning eye. Read up on your brands. Find out what stores sell which brands and then look for higher end clothes. Those are the real bargains.
Last year I was in Goodwill browsing through the skirts. I happened upon a beautiful brown pleated skirt. When I checked the size, I noticed it was made in Italy. The brand? Barneys of New York. I paid $5.99 for a name brand skirt.
Remember, most thrift store clothes are used, so inspect them well. Make sure the zippers work. Check for missing buttons or ripped seams. Many cotton shirts have tiny pinholes in places. Don’t buy those shirts! Hold the clothing in a well lit area and be certain there are no stains. You are the quality control agent. Do a thorough job.
Look for brand new clothing. Thrift stores often carry brand new clothes with the original tags still on them. Be on the lookout for the new or next to new items. Just make sure you’re not paying full retail price at the thrift store.
Try it On
Most thrift stores won’t take returns or give refunds. If you buy it, it’s yours. Try on the clothes whenever you have the opportunity. What looks great on the hanger may not fit you properly. Don’t waste your money.
My daughter and I have made a deal of sorts. We won’t let the other person buy something she doesn’t love with a capital L. If you can’t say “I love this!” when you’re standing in front of the mirror, don’t buy it. You’ll be tempted, but why have a closet filled with clothes you don’t love? It doesn’t make sense and then it’s difficult to find something to wear in the morning.
Love your clothes. Shop with a daughter or a friend and keep each other accountable.
If you want to find the best deals in thrift stores, shop often. If you go to a store and don’t find anything you like, go back in a couple of weeks, they’ll have lots more clothes. Thrift stores are constantly getting donations or taking things on consignment. Inventory changes.
Shop Stores in Nice Neighborhoods
Since people donate the clothes sold in thrift stores, it makes sense to shop in the higher-end neighborhoods. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes the nicer shops have nicer clothes. Make a list of all the thrift stores in your general area and have fun checking them out. Most often you’ll be drawn to one or two particular stores.
Set A Budget
You can spend a lot of money in a thrift store. Set a budget and don’t break it. Budgets trump good deals. It’s easy to get carried away at a thrift store. You see how cheap things are you before you know it, you’ve accumulated a whole pile of items and hefty bill. Set a budget before you head out to thrift stores. Know what you can afford to spend and then have fun. Just don’t blow the budget.
For more Cheap Tricks, click the image below!
Do you love or hate shopping in thrift stores?
What’s the best or most memorable item you’ve uncovered in a thrift store?
If you have more Thrifty Chic tips, please share them in the comments.
Great tips! I’m not a great thrift-store shopper or yard sale treasure-finder, but I sometimes find a gem. I do love to shop with those that are, however. A friend found me a barely used pampered chef stoneware pan for five dollars last week! I had totally missed seeing it.
I scored a $400 Eileen Fisher sweater coat for about $20. It was a high-end consignment shop, not a thrift shop so I had to spend a little more. I wore that sweater for a few years (daily) until I wore it out.
My thrift store has a punch card. I can’t tell you how often I fill that up and get a great discount on the next trip (with the discount, I bought brand new Lands End boots for free yesterday!) so check to see if they have a card when you checkout.
Best buy? There have been many. My favorite is a new salmon-colored trench coat from Talbots (about $235-285) for $15.