How to Thrift Shop like a Pro

how to thrift shop like a pro | also known as mama |

how to thrift shop like a pro | also known as mama |

If you were to ask me what my favorite pastime is, other than spending time with my family, my answer would most likely be thrifting.  In college, I could scour the racks of thrift stores, searching for designer duds.  When I realized I could sell my thrift store finds (for upwards of 100x profits), I was addicted.  

I now thrift just for fun.  It gives me a rush to walk into a resale shop, ready to discover buried treasures.  People are always asking me how I find such amazing deals at thrift stores.  The truth is, it takes two things: a good eye and lots of patience.  Thrift shopping can be overwhelming, but so rewarding!

 Follow my tips and you can learn to shop thrift stores like a pro, too.

How to Thrift Shop Like a Pro

Sign up for reward 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.  Ask your local thrift shop if they have any similar programs.

Be In the Know

I like to check the specials prior to shopping at my favorite thrift stores.  Some stores email their monthly sales calendars.  If you’re not signed up for a store’s emails, the daily specials are usually posted on a board in the front of the store.  I always double check the boards because sometimes they add extra discounts – like 50% off furniture, for example!

Vital Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping Goodwill | how to thrift shop like a pro

Know how to read labels

Did you know that most retail stores have special labels for the clothes they sell at the outlet?  The majority of clothing sold at outlet stores is made just for the outlet.  But what does this have to do with thrifting?  When you’re buying secondhand, you want the best quality possible – something that will hold up after many washes.  Outlet stores are great for fast fashion, but not investment pieces.  An easy way to distinguish an outlet tag versus a retail tag for a lot of brands (i.e. J. Crew, Banana Republic, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Gap) is to look for the dots.  Some stores put 2-3 dots on the labels of outlet clothing under or next to the brand name.  Some stores also label the season and year the clothing was released on the inner side tag, incase you’re wondering how old a garment is.

Outlet label:How to tell the difference between outlet clothes and retail clothes | how to thrift shop like a pro

Retail label:

How to tell the difference between outlet clothes and retail clothes | how to thrift shop like a pro

Don’t Ignore 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. IS. FOR. SALE!  I swear this is a true story… There was a Pottery Barn leopard vase that my mom had been eyeing in the catalog for months.  One day, we were in a Salvation Army and lo and behold, there was the vase high up on a display shelf filled with ugly silk flowers.  You have to keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find.

Keep an Eye Out for incoming merchandise

My local Goodwill has these metal baker’s racks in the back of the store.  The employees place new merchandise on the racks as it comes in.  I check these racks periodically during each trip to the store.  I have found some of my most prized possessions here: Fiestaware, Melissa & Doug puzzles, Tory Burch clothes, and Coach bags; just to name a few. 😉

How to Thrift Shop like a Pro

Don’t Discriminate Based on Location

Some of my favorite thrift stores are in lower-income areas.  They tend to be lower priced and, in my experience, have a large selection of high-end 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 my little thrifting story is: give every thrift store a chance.  There is bound to be at least one treasure in every store!

What’s your best thrift store find?

23 thoughts on “How to Thrift Shop like a Pro

    1. I will NEVER pay full price for a book or a picture frame. Not when you can find them for under a buck at a thrift shop! 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Christina!

  1. A girl after my own heart! Thanks for sharing. We take regular Saturday outings to our local thrift store. My husband and I take turns entertaining the boys while we scour the racks for things for every family member. Our thrift store does 50% off 80% of their store on Saturdays (they have different colored tags for merchandise….white, yellow, blue and orange might be 1/2 off one week while pink, white, yellow, blue might be on sale the next). We make a habit of only buying those 1/2 off pieces UNLESS it’s an amazing find. We can walk out of the store with an entire season wardrobe for the four of us for less than 100 dollars. It’s amazing.

    1. Thanks for reading, Sarah! Thrifting can be overwhelming at first, but with a little practice, you’ll be a pro! Congrats on baby #2!

  2. I love your tips Lauren and sounds like you are a master! I wish I enjoyed thrifting more but I do love to shop Goodwill for Halloween and Christmas decor!
    xo, Nicole

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Nicole! I forgot to add how great Goodwill is for holiday decor! Great tip to add in the future!

  3. Recently my husband and I had a very rare “no kids at all” night and didn’t know what to do! The pocket book is always light, so we decided on a pizza place for dinner. Across the street is a Salvation Army so we went in. I felt like we won the lotto with all the deals we scored. And I genuinely found things we needed that I kept off the “need” list because they weren’t priority. Thanks for the tips!

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