8 Tricks for New Thrift Shoppers (Even Macklemore Would be Impressed)

“I’m gonna pop some taaaaags!” (Thrift Shop, Macklemore)

Thrifting is an art. Perhaps even a sport. My mother would be considered a competitive thrifter – finding exquisite pieces for a fraction of the original price. She knew where all the best deals were and which stores had the most quality items.

Luckily, I picked up this penchant for thrifting. Whenever I am looking for something specific, I will price compare until the cows come home. I toggle between websites for ages, drive around from store to store and raid the sale rack. If I can get exactly what I’m looking for at a decent price, it’s worth the time.

If you just aren’t into shopping, don’t have the time, or are brand new to thrifting – I’ve got you, boo! Below are my top 10 tricks for thrifting. Do you have any thrifting tips? Comment below!

Score BIG at the Thrift Shop

Shop early 

Early in the day and early in the week. Earlier you go, the more gems you are likely to find before someone else. Also, shopping on the weekend is for suckers. Get yourself to the thrift store earlier in the week and grab the items that were donated over the weekend (I assume donations happen most on the weekend when people have time).

Best time of year 

College town? Beginning of semester, a lot of people bring too much for the dorm and toss items. End of Spring semester? Students are tossing items. I used to go to a private school and raided the donation bins (DVD players, designer clothing, exercise equipment, instruments). I got stank looks from my more privileged (and inexperienced with money) peers, but I not only found awesome items to use – I also sold a few things. Talk about a profit margin!

Goodwill is not the only option

It’s a good place to start, but if you want even BETTER prices, try out the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul’s, Savers, and local spots. Goodwill seems to markup items at a slightly higher price, but this is offset by their discount days (each day of the week = % off on items with red tag, blue tag, green tag, and so on).

Go to the “wealthy” areas of town is a hit or miss

Donations from these areas don’t always end up in the nearest location – sometimes it gets shipped to a distribution center first. Always worth a shot.

Best items to thrift?

Books, DVDs, VHS, VINYL!, tables, shelves, kitchen appliances, dishes, mirrors, frames, jackets, jeans, professional items like slacks and dress shirts, overstock from major retailers like Target also find their way to thrift stores (unused and a fraction of the price!).

Cash only

There are two reasons to always bring cash when thrifting. First, you’re limiting your spending. When prices are low, it’s easy to do a huge thrift shop haul and spend more than you should. Second, the more local and lowkey a thrift store, the less likely they will accept debit/credit cards. Even if these forms of payment are accepted, what if the machine isn’t working? You may miss out on your purchase (this has happened to me!).

Still unsure about thrifting?

Pop in some music. Most places run a radio, but others are silent. Bring a friend and make it a date! You can even shop for discount clothing online at websites like ThredUp (I’ve received good cashback) and The Real Real (if you’re looking for discount luxury items). Craigslist is a great place for electronics and furniture (I bought my 2009 Macbook Pro + accessories for $500 because the man switched to PC for gaming. Major win.)

Should you negotiate?

Depends. Most of these places have set prices for categories of items. Also, you’re already getting the item for a steep discount. AND a lot of these places donate most proceeds to charity. I’ve negotiated with landlords, car rentals, handypeople, but never thought about haggling at my local thrift store.

Go forth my #thrifties! Save, save, save!

thrift shopping tricks saving money

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