Thrift Store Shopping Like a Boss

thrift-store-shoppingThrift stores are the secret weapon of frugal people everywhere. However, it can be overwhelming to step into a thrift store and be surrounded by marked-down items. Use these tips to get good deals, skip the duds, and walk out with a full bag and full wallet.

Look for Locally Owned Thrift Stores

While chain stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill are awesome in prices and what they do for the community, you can get even better deals by looking for locally owned thrift stores. Look for thrift stores run by local charities or churches—they are often upfront with how they use their money and what causes you are helping. In addition, these stores usually have lower prices.

Know What You Need

Entering a thrift store with no idea of what you need can leave you feeling overwhelmed and cranky. As you head in, know what you need—kids’ clothes, sheets, books—and you can restrict your shopping to those areas.

Shop Early and Often

While thrift stores often open at 8 A.M or 9 A.M., volunteers are usually working long before the doors open. They are pricing new items, putting them out on the floor, and making sure that shelves are full. By getting to a thrift store right after it opens, you get the best selection of items.

If you’re counting on thrift shops to fill your closets, you need to make it a priority to get there. Find your favorite thrift shops in the area and visit them once or twice per week to get your pick of new items. If you build a relationship with the workers, you may even find them holding items for you that they think you’ll like!

Don’t Buy Something Just Because It’s a Good Deal

It’s easy to be surrounded by inexpensive items and just start grabbing things. However, it’s inevitable that you’ll waste money and create clutter if you just buy things because they seem like a good deal. Before you buy something, ask yourself: do I need it? What purpose will it serve in my home? If you can’t answer those two questions, pass on the item.

You might also be interesting in these Money Saving posts by Frugal Living Mom:

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15 Ways to Save
Money Every Day
20 Ways to Save
Up to $20,000 a Year
“Basic Steps for
Setting Up a Budget
What’s on Sale
This Month


Avoid Items That Cannot Be Fixed or Cleaned

People are prone to overestimating what they can fix or clean when they shop at a thrift store. It’s easy to look at a broken or dirty item, take the very low price into account, and promise that you’ll fix or clean it. However, keep in mind that most thrift stores do their best to clean and put items together before putting them on the floor. If you don’t have a clear idea about how you can fix or clean something, pass on the item. This is especially true for clothing items that are dry-clean only. They are often expensive to clean, and if the thrift store could not get a stain out, your dry cleaner may not be able to either.

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  1. Sarah says

    I’ve been an avid thrift shop shopper for years and I’m not sure where your shopping but no where that I have ever been to in the thrift store world cleans or fixes items before putting then out, unfortunately most don’t even group parts together from the same set or same toy even when they are donated in the same box

  2. barbara says

    Some shops have special discount days … I lucked out on some very nice leather handbags for $7.50-12.50 as they were 50% off…( Brighton, The Sak….).
    I only recently actually found some things that actually were my size and style…….the one problem i have tho is the horrible smell ! Seems like most people use scented laundry products and I find them highly offensive. After washing some garments repeatedly in hot water ( and it was cold water only), vinegar soak and airing outside I FINALLY got the stink out.

    As I paw thru the racks i am reminded ( for adult clothing at least) of the reason why I do not buy things at Target, etc……….most of those items at a thrift shop are limp, stretched, pilled , and generally trashed while better quality have a lot of life left in them. I do not buy much but I try not to change sizes and buy quality and care for carefully so they last a long time.

  3. Carol says

    just to give everyone a chuckle: decided to make a rag rug, site suggested to try Salvation Army for t-shirts, keep in mind just came from Wally World as had some shopping to do, while there i just happened to check out t-shirt prices $5.99 for 5x lots of material ,then back at Sal-Mart where kids t-shirts were $4.50 and adult up to $9.50!!!! Went back to Wal-Mart LOL,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  4. says

    In response to Sarah’s comment – I’m not sure where your shopping but no where that I have ever been to in the thrift store world cleans or fixes items before putting then out, unfortunately most don’t even group parts together from the same set or same toy even when they are donated in the same box.

    We own a a resale shop and as the article suggested, you may be better off finding a local shop – we clean EVERYTHING before putting it out and if it’s a simple fix we do that too, we do leave some items as is in our project corner. We group all our “treasures” into “like” areas, my husband grew up on Sesame Street and has a fixation on things belonging together.

    While Salvation Army and Goodwil server their purpose, they are not always the best place to find “quality” treasures. Remember most of the works are doing Community Service Work ordered by the courts, they just want to get their hours and be done, they may not care or take pride and the customers suffer for it.

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