As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support!

15 Thrift Store Shopping Tips for Finding the Best Deals

Want to find a bargain while thrift store shopping? Here are my best tips to help you save money and find great deals and bargains at thrift shops.

Today I am going to share my best kept secret thrift store shopping tips that will help you find awesome goodies you can use for repurposing/upcycling projects, home decor, clothing, and so much more!


Here Are 15 Thrift Shopping Tips for Getting The Best Deals & Finds:

1. Go With a List:

I never go to the thrift store without a clear intention of what I’m looking for. That doesn’t mean I’ll find it…but it definitely helps me to be more focused while shopping, especially since I’m the type who gets distracted by pretty shiny dusty rusty objects!


2. Go By Yourself:

I have gone with friends. There are two problems with this. They will either A. Convince you to buy or not buy something you really want. B. Buy the same things as you. C. Get bored before you’re ready to leave. I love my friends and family, but when I’m thrift shopping I’ve learned it’s best to go alone.


3. Be Prepared: Bring Snacks & Drinks!

I always make sure I have drinks, snacks, etc, that kind of thing. You don’t want to be in the middle of thrift shopping and be starving or thirsty. While you won’t bring them into the store, it’s always good to have in the car!

Speaking of cars, you should also make sure you are driving the right type of car if you plan on shopping for large items such as furniture. It’s hard when you fall in love with a bookshelf or dresser piece that you can’t fit in your car to bring home!

Some thrift stores will have policies for holding furniture – it’s best to know these policies in advance before you buy something!


4. Dress for Trying Stuff On:

If you’re shopping for clothes, dress so you can easily put clothes on/off without necessarily needing a changing room, as some stores do not have them.

You may also want to check out this: Tips to Get The Right Size Clothing While Shopping At Thrift Stores


5. Carry a Small Purse:

While you are shopping, it’s best to only have the bare essentials: Keys, Phone, Wallet. Leave the giant Mary Poppins bag at home. The stores tend to have narrow aisles and a big purse/bag will just bump into people and knock things over.


6. Know the sale days:

Most thrift stores have sale days and months. You can find out what they are if you call them and ask nicely, or some may even list it on their websites. Make sure you ask about coupons or holiday specials or senior /student/military discounts if applicable also.

Goodwill thrift stores and others typically will have a tag color of the week, and all items with that tag are 50% off. Knowing which items are 50% off can make a big impact on your buying decisions!


7. Bring a Tape Measure:

Not sure if something will fit? Bring a small pocket tape measure and you’ll know exactly what size it it! This works for clothes, furniture, anything really.

I love miniature tape measures, a small portable fabric tape measure can also be helpful.


8. Be Wary of Prices:

So some thrift stores sell used clothes for the same price you could buy that brand name for new. That always irks me, especially for low-end retail stores. It’s always disappointing to see items from big chain stores like Wal-mart, K-mart and Target selling for more than what you could purchase brand new with a little savvy clearance shopping!


9. Many Thrift Stores Now Have “Specially Priced” Sections:

I’ve noticed a lot more thrift stores having a special section for higher-end items. This is especially true when you are shopping for things like vintage dresses. If you’re looking for high end stuff, expect to pay more..for example I bought my prom dress 15 years ago for $2…now that dress would easily be $50-$80 at most of the thrift shops I visit and would be in their “special” sections.

If you are shopping for vintage, use care here, because some items can actually be overpriced at a thrift store. However, often times the price at the thrift store can still be less than what something might be available in another location, so this can be helpful. Yes, your geography matters!


9. Become a DIY-Pro:

Things at the thrift store come broken and dirty and rusty sometimes. You’ve gotta be good at DIY if you plan on shopping there a lot. For example, learn to fix the wiring on an older lamp. Don’t be scared to attempt repainting and refinishing furniture. If shopping for clothes, knowing some basic sewing and stain removal tips can get you a long way too.


10. Be a Frequent Flyer:

You have to shop often to find the best things. Stores constantly add new stuff as the merchandise is distributed, so you’ve gotta be there to get it. If you only go once a month, you’re not going to have the same luck you might have going once or even 2-3 times a week.


11. Shop Different Stores in Different Areas – Location Matters:

I love thrift shopping while in different areas – such as stopping in a different state, county or neighborhood I don’t normally travel to. You’ll find some interesting things you may not see elsewhere!

Prices can also vary widely from one store to the next on different types of items, depending on the inventory the shop carries and what their typical customer is shopping for.


12. Create a Shopping System:

I have quite the system for shopping thrift stores down to a science when I go into thrift stores. First, I visit the housewares and furniture sections, then the jewelry/small stuff display cases, next the books, then toys, and lastly, very lastly clothes.

This is my method because stuff in those areas interest me the most. Your routine might be different…but if you get into a routine it helps you get through the store quickly while still having time to see everything. When you are familiar with the layout of a store, it is easier to know how to plan your route while browsing.


13. Go When You Have Time:

Speaking of having enough time to shop…Unless you’re doing a “frequent flyer” quick browse later in the week, you’ll want to go when you have enough time to actually look through stuff. Often times some of the best things will be shoved into a box on the bottom of the floor behind other boxes or below draping fabrics.

Being rushed can make you overlook things, and you definitely won’t feel motivated to search through shelves and boxes of stuff.


14. Don’t forget other thrift-like opportunities:

Flea Markets, Church Rummage Sales and Bazaars, Community Trunk Sales, Yard Sales…you can find better deals at these things sometimes because thrift stores have it figured out as a business…whereas the casual seller at a trunk sale isn’t going to be charging top “resale” value – they most likely just want some spare change and less junk in their garage.

It’s also a great idea to check out estate sales – I have found these can be a great way to find treasures for a bargain!


15. Wash Everything Thoroughly Before Use:

If you buy stuff at the thrift store, you know it’s used or been sitting around collecting dust for eons at any rate. Always wash things very well before using them. You never know!

If you purchased clothes, make sure you follow any garment care directions on the labels – you wouldn’t want to felt a beautiful wool sweater or accidentally destroy something that needs to be dry cleaned.


Do Your Best & Most Importantly: Have Fun Thrift Store Shopping!

While you can’t always follow these tips when thrift shopping, it’s good to know these things, as it will definitely help you have the best thrift store experience as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this list and you’ll find some great bargains and finds this way!!!

Do you have any thrift store shopping tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!!!

Leave a Comment