The ultimate treasure hunt: My 5 secrets for thrift store shopping

Guest post by Adrienne
Thrift store junkie necklace by Etsy seller CABfayre
Thrift store junkie necklace by Etsy seller CABfayre

Going shopping at the thrift store is like the ultimate treasure hunt. I love heading into my local Goodwill and Value Village and checking out all the vintage finds. I buy most of my clothing, furniture, and home décor items used from second hand stores. Not only does it save me a ton of money but it’s great for the environment as it reduces waste.

Here are my best tips for thrift store shopping:

Every thrift store has things that they tend to specialize in

Some are better for furniture, some for clothing, and so on. The thing that determines what gets donated are the people who live near the store and drop off their unwanted wares. You can find some amazing items by shopping at thrift stores that are in a more affluent neighborhood than yours. The thrift shops near my parent’s house have really expensive designer items at great prices because the people who live in that community are wealthy. It may be worth it to go on a bit of a drive to a different part of town to get the best goods.

Most people drop off their old stuff on the weekends

Which means that, after the employees process the items and put them out on the floor, they will be available for sale early-to-mid week. I personally do not like to go shopping on the weekends because it is way too crowded, and all the good stuff is already gone by the time I get there. I will stop by for a quick browse once a week or so while I am out running errands

Some thrift stores give you coupons when you donate

I donate regularly to my local Value Village, and they give me coupons for up to 30% off on my next purchase. They also have a rewards card where you can get discounts on special days.

Most thrift shops will have a daily or weekly sale on certain items

When you arrive, check to see what color tag is on sale, and don’t be afraid to ask the employees when the best times to shop are. They have all the inside info you need to score the best deals!

You can resell for a profit

I have gotten some of my favorite clothing and home decor items at the thrift store. I’ve even found some items that I re-sold for much higher than I originally paid. If you do some research on vintage clothing or antiques, you can find some real gems that are worth a lot of money that you can resell for a profit.

What are your best thrifting tips?

Comments on The ultimate treasure hunt: My 5 secrets for thrift store shopping

  1. Yes to all of these tips! I watch my local Salvation Army for 99 cent clothing sales, find all the nice stuff from Baby Gap or Gymboree, then re-sell it at consignment sales. It takes a keen eye, and some work in terms of prepping items for the consignment sale, but it turns into a neat little profit every six months or so.

  2. These are great tips! I would also say if you’re going to a thrift store looking FOR something, think about when people would donate the item–heavy winter coats in the spring; scales, fitness equipment, and workout outfits a couple of months after New Year’s; books and dorm furniture when a school semester is over, etc. I once thought it was odd that my local thrift store had their “ugly Christmas sweaters” on display in September, but when I was invited to such a party in December, they didn’t have any!

  3. I love looking through my usual thrift stores. Especially the first tip is true here in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where I live. I have a few that I go to for cloths, and another for furniture, and one other for fabrics.

  4. Heeeey so I’ve had a long-time thrift store question I bet people here can help me with. 🙂 How do you get the febreeze/detergent smell out of clothes? Every time I buy something at a thrift store it seems to have this really intense scented detergent smell that gives me a headache and takes weeks to get out. I’ve tried baking soda soaks, hanging outside, odor removers meant for cat pee, RLR laundry treatment has worked the best so far… any favorite solutions?

    • I’ve had some success with soaking things in a mild vinegar solution before washing and then hanging out in the garden. It worked safely on a vintage silk scarf and also worked on getting the cigarette smell out of a fabric bag I bought new on eBay!

      For things with that stubborn musty smell, alternating vinegar soaks and bicarbonate of soda soaks, then washing with regular detergent, seems to work pretty well.

  5. I buy almost all my clothes in thrift stores not because I like vintage stuff (I’ve had people take me for a big Gap shopper), but because I don’t have a lot of money and I enjoy browsing the racks. I also like benefiting from, rather than contributing to, disposable culture. Anyway, I wanted to add two thoughts:

    1) You don’t need to be a “vintage” or “funky” or “creative” dresser to take advantage of thrift stores!

    2) Thrift stores are great for experimenting with new styles in a super low-stakes way! I’ve sometimes bought things for a couple of dollars that I’m not sure if I REALLY like or will wear, which have turned out to be such favourites that I’ve gone back to the store listed on the tag to get a replacement when the first one wears out.

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