Confessions of a 25 Year Old Thrifting Pro

Here are the top seven tips I have learned from over 20 years of thrift store shopping.

So you are interested in learning to shop at thrift stores?

Should you choose Goodwill or Salvation army? What about a local thrift store? & is thrifting the same as shopping at consignment shops? Here are the tips I have learned from over 20 years of thrift store shopping.

1. Check the Dressing Rooms First

As soon as I enter a thrift store I head to the dressing rooms. I check all of the open rooms looking for left behind items and then I check the rack next to them. This area is a gold mine for great finds because some gracious shopper has already picked out the best of the rack & has probably even inspected it. Maybe they put it back because of the fit – now it is yours for the taking.

2. Just Throw it in the Bag

Anything you like, grab it and don’t look back. It probably won’t be there when you return. Someone else will scoop it up while you’re thinking about it. I’ll admit, I have stalked people and waited until they put something down so I could swipe it up.

3. Look Behind the Counter

Some of the best pieces may be on the racks at the back of the store near the dressing rooms. These items have already been searched out and deemed valuable enough to try on. Just because they weren’t a good fit for the person who originally found them doesn’t mean they won’t work for you.

4. Hit Different Stores

You can quickly Google “thrift stores near me” or use a thrifting tool like to locate various stores near you.

5. Check Clothes

Check everything – inside & out – TWICE. Look for stains, tears, beading fabric, missing buttons. Consider: why did someone give this item away? In the electronics section? Plug it in to make sure it works. Even books should be scanned for missing or damaged pages. Any and all damage should be noted before making a purchase. Can you fix it?  Will it be worth the cost?

6. Be Prepared

Thrift shopping without a clear goal is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. It’s doable, but it’s not ideal. Make a list of what you are looking for based on what you already own. This will help keep you focused and on budget. In addition, bring pictures of your coveted gems for reference, whenever possible. This will make it easier for store clerks to help you locate what you are looking for or let you know if they have something similar or not.

7. Dress for No Fitting Rooms

Most thrift stores have limited to no fitting rooms, which can make trying on your finds before purchasing them difficult. Furthermore, I don’t recommend picking things off the rack and buying them without making sure they are a good fit first. Since thrift stores don’t often issue refunds or do exchanges, try them on to avoid being stuck with clothes you can’t wear. To remedy this, wear a form-fitting tank top and boy shorts or leggings to make trying things on as easy as possible even if it means changing in the middle of the store. If the shop doesn’t provide shopping carts – bring a bag and talk to the store owner about what you are doing. You can easily spend hours in a thrift store. Avoid unnecessary fatigue by wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. I wear a fitted tank top, wide neck t-shirt, leggings and a crossbody bag.

I love thrift store shopping because I love a good deal. It is amazing what I find for good prices and I encourage you to start looking into thrift stores and consignment shops for your next outfits. You never know when you may find a vintage Chanel piece or the newest designer with a large discount in the racks.

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