Thrift 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.
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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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