Ultimate Guide to Thrift Store Shopping

Ultimate Guide to Thrift Store Shopping

My obsession with thrift store shopping started this year, and I seriously wondered why I haven’t been doing it all my life.

Aside from the fact that thrift store shopping is relatively cheaper, they hide precious vintage items and it’s almost impossible to see someone else wearing the same dress that you have (for clothes). It’s also satisfying to find a precious thing amidst what you think is nothing.

There are still some do’s and don’ts that you need to know, however, especially if you’re new to it. Read below for some tips to maximize your thrift store shopping experience.

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Make a wishlist

Thrift shopping can be stressful so I always prepare a to-do checklist of items to hunt before going to any store. Preparing a wishlist makes it easier to keep your expenses within budget too. It can be as simple as listing “mom jeans” or “record player” on a piece of paper.

My Pinterest board helps a lot in knowing what I want.

Dress comfortably

Depends on where you’re going thrift shopping, but some flea markets are street-wide or so, which may involve a lot of walking.

Also, wear something that you can easily remove to lessen the hassle when trying clothes on. It’s not ideal to wear jeans especially if you’re looking for dresses. I usually wear a comfortable tee and denim shorts.

If you’re allergic to dust (or old stuff, for that matter), wear something with thin fabric so you won’t have to remove it when fitting.

Bring a shopping bag

Since almost every store uses a brown bag nowadays, it may be hard for you to carry your stuff around after shopping. Bring your own eco bag to also lessen waste.

This applies to every shopping, not just at thrift stores.

Start with the cheapest rack or section

Here’s a small hack if you want to save more: start your hunt with the cheapest section. There’s a higher chance for you to stay content with your first picks compared to when you start with the expensive ones.

Also, you’re going to be exhausted by the time you reach the expensive ones if you start with the cheap ones, so you’re less likely to spend more.

Hoard and decide later

This is probably the best lesson I’ve learned so far when going thrift store shopping. I just scan the racks and pick the ones that I like, test them out, scan them for damage, and eliminate the ones I don’t like.

There’s no harm in it—this way you have a higher chance to pick out the best. Think as if you’re treasure-hunting.

Try the kids’ section

If you’re looking for clothes, try to visit the kids’ section if you’re just around 5 feet tall like me. Sometimes they have the best stuff there as if the sizes are made especially for you. I like using kids’ shirts as crop tops, and the dresses fit so well too.

Oftentimes, they don’t check each piece of clothing so they add the petite sizes to the kids’ section.

Don’t hesitate to buy something under $1

One thing I learned from one of my best friends: never hesitate to buy any good stuff that’s only a dollar or less. Look for something that you think can still be recycled, like maybe a huge shirt that you can turn into a crop top.

You don’t have to think twice as long as they’ve already gotten your attention once.

Inspect every corner

No matter how good the item is, if it’s damaged, it’s usually not worth it. Think of how much it would cost if you have it repaired—unless you know how to DIY.

Inspect everything from stains to ripped parts. It’s still up to you because sometimes the damage looks stylish so you might just like it anyway.

Learn to haggle

Being a regular customer at a thrift store gives you the advantage to negotiate a cheaper price. Score free clothes or get up to 20 percent discount—they might even save the good ones for you once their new items arrive. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Wait for clearance sales

I usually drop by flea markets or thrift stores when they either have new arrivals or clearance sales. A clearance sale happens right before the new items arrive, wherein you can score up to 80 percent discount. The downside may be that the best ones are already picked out.

As for new arrivals, it may be more expensive to shop at that time but it’s worth it to be the first in line. You just don’t know what you’ll find.

Ask for the store’s contact number

I ask for the store’s number so I can contact them for new arrivals, clearance sales, and more. You’d want to know when the best items arrive or when you can buy them on the cheap.

Wash carefully before you wear

Personally, I wash my thrifted clothes twice to make sure that they are all clean and look brand new. You don’t know where these clothes come from, and it might be one of those zombie movies!

I haven’t bought any shoes but you might want to use a disinfectant spray after washing them. The same goes for any other items like glassware. Better safe than sorry.

Bonus: thrift store shopping is environment-friendly—think of it as recycling so there is lesser clothing in landfills. One piece of clothing requires so many resources, and nowadays, it’s good to see more brands producing clothes made of post-consumer waste. It may not be a huge impact all at once but baby steps are still steps.

I hope these tips will make thrift store shopping easier for you—happy hunting!

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