There are more than 25,000 thrift stores scattered all across the country.
If you’ve never been to one before, you should take a trip to a thrift store in your area to see what you can find. Thrift stores are filled with everything from vintage T-shirts immortalizing your favorite bands to antiques that would look great in your living room.
But before you set foot in a thrift store for the first time, you should prepare yourself for it and make sure you know how to track down the best thrift store finds.
It can be a little bit overwhelming walking into your first thrift store. So it’s a good idea to go in with a plan and then stick to it as you start searching through everything that’s available.
Take a look at 7 tips for locating the best thrift store finds.
1. Pick a Thrift Store in the Right Location
The first thing you should do before you begin thrift shopping–or “thrifting” as many people like to call it–is find the best store in your area.
More often than not, this store will be located on the nicer side of town. This is because the items in that store will, in theory, come via donations from those who live on that side of town.
There are also many thrift stores that accept donations from larger retailers who are looking to unload items that haven’t sold in their stores. So if you see a thrift store situated among bigger businesses in your area, it might be a good idea for you to start there.
There are great thrift store finds to be had at all thrift stores. But in general, you should do your research beforehand and locate the best stores in your area before you start shopping.
2. Prepare to Sort Through Tons and Tons of Items
When you walk into a thrift store, one of the first things you’re going to notice is that there will be items everywhere.
Clothes racks will be crammed with more shirts and pants than you could ever imagine. Houseware shelves will be teeming with plates, bowls, and so much more. It will almost be too much for your senses to take!
You should walk into a thrift store with a plan. For example, if you need a new pair of jeans, focus in on that first. Find the section with all of the jeans and look there before you move on.
It can take a long time to sift through everything in a thrift store, even if you know exactly what you want. So make sure you give yourself plenty of time to shop in one while preparing yourself for all the items you’re going to see.
3. Inspect the Items You Like Very Carefully
Did you find that pair of jeans you were hunting for after spending 30 minutes looking through a rack of pants?
Awesome! There’s nothing quite like finding a needle in a haystack in a thrift store.
But before you walk up to the register and buy the jeans, you should inspect them carefully and then inspect them again in the proper light to make sure there’s nothing wrong with them.
Because most of the items in a thrift store will be used, there’s a chance the jeans could have a rip in them. There’s also a chance the jeans could be stained in some way.
While that might be OK with you, you shouldn’t just assume the jeans are in great condition because they made their way out to the floor. You should look at the jeans from different angles to ensure you know exactly what you’re buying.
4. Resist the Urge to Throw Everything Into Your Cart
One of the mistakes people make when looking for thrift store finds is that they fall in love with everything in the store.
They walk through it and start chucking things into their cart and just can’t seem to stop.
While there’s nothing wrong with buying every $2 blouse and $5 pair of slacks in sight if you really love them, you also don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re donating clothes and other items right back to the thrift store in a few months.
There are tons of great deals at a thrift store. But before you pile your cart high, make sure you really love the items you’re buying and aren’t just getting caught up in the excitement of thrifting.
5. Walk Through Every Section in a Thrift Store
Thrift stores usually aren’t as organized as they could or should be.
You’ll routinely find items placed in the wrong section or mixed in with the wrong products.
That pair of jeans you’re looking for? They could actually be stuck somewhere between a bunch of baby clothes in the back of a thrift store. And it would be a real shame if you missed out on buying them simply because you didn’t take the time to scan the entire store.
While you don’t have to spend hours and hours at a time browsing through every part of a thrift store, you also shouldn’t be afraid to step outside of the section you’re checking out to see what else is in a store.
You truly never know what you’re going to find at a thrift store, which is part of what makes shopping at one so much fun.
6. Think Outside the Box and Consider How You Can Alter Items
The furniture that you find in thrift shops is usually not in great condition. A lot of it is either scratched up beyond belief or terribly out of style.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring it back to life once you buy it and take it home.
By thinking outside of the box, you can figure out ways to repair and repurpose things like dressers, desks, chairs, wooden boxes, and so much more.
You can transform items that look like they belong in the trash into great thrift store finds simply by getting creative with them.
7. Go Back to the Thrift Store At Least Once a Month
The inventory at a thrift store is constantly changing. Thrift stores will usually keep items around for a few weeks before pulling them and replacing them with new products.
This means that you should get into the habit of going back to a thrift store early and often.
You might not see anything you like on your first or second trip. But on your third trip, you could strike gold and come across more thrift store finds than you can fit in your cart.
Start Looking for Great Thrift Store Finds Today
Hunting for thrift store finds can provide you and your family with a fun challenge.
It can also help you save lots of money over the long run while still getting you the things you need and want.
You should consider thrifting on a regular basis to see what you can find in the thrift stores in your area.
Check out our blog for more tips on saving money.