I love thrifting (aka second hand stores). It has single-handedly saved the hubs and I thousands of dollars when decorating our home and has provided bikes, clothing and shoes at a fraction of the costs of regular retailers. But I’d be lying if I said that going to the thrift store was always a wise financial decision. In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental.
Why? Well, much like a coupon or a buy-1-get-1-free sale, my hunter-gatherer muscle kicks in and tells me to gather the fruit while it's cheap and abundant. The hubs even started putting his foot down saying, “Sure, you won’t spend $30 at J.Crew but you’ll spend $50 at Salvation Army!”
I had to agree with him. Non-negligible portions of our small budget were leaking out every month. So, I developed a plan-of-attack, a survival guide to keep this good thing from turning into a financially stressful thing and now I'm sharing it with you!
Below is a go-to guide of thrift store shopping: everything from what to buy, how to save money and what to look out for! Even though it was borne out of my pain, I hope you enjoy and feel more confident knowing you now know how to shop at thrift stores!!
- Leather shoes, belts and bags
- Traveling gear such as carry-on luggage or even durable backpacks
- Tables and chairs
- Leather couches
- Other furniture with upholstery still in good condition
- Silk scarves
- Clean clothing that you have taken the time to try on
- Dishware - unchipped/cracked
- Stoneware - increasingly expensive
- China - fancy schmancy dinnerware - cheap :)
- Greeting cards
- Toy Cameras/Antique Cameras - as long as they are in working condition I LOVE finding a good antique!
- Find a similar clothing item to a “New Arrival” at your favorite store!
- Tablecloths or placemats
- Designer jeans, in your size, that you’ve tried on
- Garments with a hole or stain.
- Chipped or cracked dishware.
- Linens with stains or tacky patterns.
- Seasonal trinkets - PUT DOWN the Rock N Roll Santa!
- Home electronics - broken blenders, boiled down kettles, haywire toasters - don’t risk it!
- Garments you think are “hipster”
- Costumes or things you think would make a good costume
- $2.00 pitfall - Just because it is $2.00 does NOT mean I should buy it!
- Knock-off purses - trust me we’ll know it’s not Coach.
- “Surprise Jars” these are jars of buttons, small toys and jewelry that almost always are broken - learned from experience.
- Brass jewelry - just say no
- Curtains - IKEA has brand new ones for $5, these are dusty and smell like smoke!
- Gifts for someone else - some people don’t like thrifting - don’t take it personally :)
Know what you are looking to buy:
- Collect items you want to find in a thrift store on Pinterest
- Keep track of DIY projects you want to try and see if you can find cheaper items at the thrift store.
Bring a specific amount of cash:
- Bringing a credit card is just plain DANGEROUS!
- With so many cheap finds, you’ll need to be able to fit them into what you can afford, not fit your life into your thrift store finds!
When looking for glassware, decide on a color:
- Choosing a specific glass color is a great way to make sure your collection looks good together.
- I collect white and light blue glassware. Light blue is to go in concert with our meals and white is for all things decor.
Only buy linens that match your kitchen/dinning room:
- Thrift stores can been a goldmine for cheap linens. Whether they are silk, linen or cotton with tatting - just make sure they match your kitchen/dinning room.
- I grab free paintchips and match them to my kitchen. Then I carry them in my purse when I go to the thrift store so I KNOW what I’m getting will match.
Never buy clothing without trying it on first:
- Jeans, jackets, sweaters, boots, I know trying on clothes is a PAIN but you really won’t be able to make a good purchase if you haven’t taken the time to see if the item even fits! This is also a great way to see if there are any holes, errors in the stitching, unraveling ends etc.
What are your thift stop survival tips? Do you like thrifting?