People are always asking me how I find such amazing deals at thrift stores. The truth is that it takes a good eye and lots of patience. Don’t be discouraged, these can both be learned. Follow my 6 vital tips and you can be a professional thrifter too!
1. Sign up for emails and rewards programs.
My local Goodwill stores have a reward program called Club Blue. With Club Blue, you accumulate a point for every dollar you spend. When you reach 100 points, you get $5 off any purchase (or as I like to think of it, a free pair of jeans!). They also periodically send out emails with sales and coupons. I never go to Goodwill without checking the daily special in my email first.
2. Know the daily sales and specials.
Like I said, I like to check this prior to shopping. By looking at my email, I am able to pull up the monthly calendar at my local store. I went thrifting yesterday and knew before going that all orange tags were 99 cents. If you’re not signed up for a store’s emails, the daily specials are usually posted on a white board in the front of the store. I always double check this because sometimes they add something extra – like 50% off furniture, for instance!
3. Know how to read labels.
Did you know that most retail stores have different labels for outlet clothes? Contrary to popular belief, most clothing sold at outlets are made just for the outlet. They are typically similar pieces from previous seasons made with lower quality materials – hence the cheaper outlet prices. Why is it important to know this while thrift shopping? Because if you’re buying secondhand, you want the best quality – something that will hold up after many washes. Outlets are great for fast fashion, but not quality garments. An easy way to distinguish an outlet piece versus a retail store piece for a lot of brands (i.e. J. Crew, Banana Republic, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Gap) is the dot trick. These stores put 2-3 dots on the labels of outlet clothing.
Also, a lot of stores will put the season and year a piece was released on the garment care label. I like to check this on J. Crew clothing especially. I’ve been known to find some really awesome stuff from the current season!
4. Check out the displays.
A lot of thrift stores (Goodwill and Salvation Army especially) have cute little displays around the store. Do not overlook these! It is a thrift store: Everything. Is. For. Sale. I repeat, EVERYTHING! I swear this is a true story… There was this Pottery Barn leopard vase that my mom had been eyeing in the catalog for months. One day, we were in a Salvation Army and low and behold, there was the vase high up on a display shelf filled with an ugly silk flower arrangement. You have to keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find.
5. Watch for incoming merchandise.
My local Goodwill has these metal baker’s racks in the back of the store. The employees place new donations on the racks as they come in. I check these racks periodically while shopping rest of the store. I have found some of my most prized possessions here: a set of four Fiesta Dinnerware plates and bowls, a brand new Longaberger basket, and a gorgeous vintage Coach purse in pristine condition.
6. Don’t judge a store by its location.
Some of my favorite thrift stores are in low-income areas. They tend to be lower priced and surprisingly have more designer items. I’ve travelled long distances to shop at thrift stores in ritzy neighborhoods and the majority of the time I’ve left disappointed. The moral of this little thrifting story is, give every thrift store a chance. There is bound to be at least one treasure in every store!