There's a lot that can go into thrifting; some women even make a living out of buying and reselling from thrift store. I'm not here to show you how to make an income from thrifting, but rather to talk about how to pinch the pennies and make each one count.
There are a lot of stereo types that come with thrift shopping. The first time I went I almost felt out of place and even grungy. But don't let the stereo type that these second hand stores are for the poor and underprivileged get to you; it's simply NOT TRUE.
|photo from http://madamenoire.com/tag/thrift-shopping/|
Here are a few simple tricks I apply to my thrift shopping on a weekly basis to maximize the saving potential.
MAP IT OUTNot all thrift stores are created equal. It's important to find stores located in "upscale" locations. This way the items in the thrift shop will be from the well-to-do neighborhoods, for a great price. If you're looking for that one-of-a-kind piece, then any shop will have it, no matter the location. Take cash if you can. This way you'll make every penny count as you sift through items.
AVOID THE CHAINSDo your best to avoid chain donation places. You may have gasped momentarily because we all know and understand the great work places like Goodwill and The Red Cross do for local and international communities. But the truth is, they've gone to a bar-code system where you will pay close to retail for items, specifically clothing, as they're trying to make the most for each item. I try to only visit here as a last resort, and I do admit I have found a steal once or twice.
DIG DIG DIGWalking into a thrift store you'll find rows upon rows of clothing. Some stores will sort by size or color. Most will sort at least by gender and subject matter. But you have to dig. Keep a small thing of hand sanitizer in your purse for the end, before you get in the car, so you can feel a little cleaner. Make sure to take your time and look at each item. I can't tell you how many times I've found a $0.50 shirt with tags still on it! Check for stains or tears in the clothing. On shoes make sure the heel is not coming off. If you're looking at electronics, most are marked if they're working but always find a plug and test it out if you can.
MAKE A PLAN - GO OFTENBefore I leave for the store I make a small list of items I might be looking for; a pair of running shorts, a house phone, some serving dishes. They may not have these items today, but next week they could be there. This is why I make a trip at least once a week or every two weeks to the thrift store. This may sound like a lot, but I don't always purchase, and I never miss an item. Another positive is the workers began to know me. Just yesterday one called me to let me know an item on my list had been donated! How cool is that?? Often a store will contact you if you make your need for a specific item known.
KNOW YOUR STOREI already mentioned you can cultivate relationships with the workers at each store, but it is also good to know their sale days. Some stores will tag items in different colors and do a "green tag sale" day or a 15% off student day. Make sure to ask if they have a return policy on any electronics you may buy. Also don't be afraid to ask if the price is negotiable. A lot of store will let you haggle with them on the price.
GIVE BACKThis is a great way to give back. When I go to my thrift shop, I'll take a bag of items we haven't used in a while. My rule the thumb, if I bring an item in - another has to come out. If you're buying clothes, go through your closet and find items you don't fit in or wear anymore and donate. I do ask that you only donate good quality items. maybe your old dress will be someone else steal of the day!
These are a few of the items I have picked up in the last few weeks from our local thrift stores. Make sure you properly wash and clean all items before using and remember to have fun! Thrift shopping can be an adventure - enjoy it!