We all know that thrift stores are places you can find a good deal and save some cash, but you can save even more money if you know how to shop them.
First, find a store that is convenient enough for you to frequent on a regular basis. Talk to the employees and find out about any special deals or percent off sales. Some to think about are:
- Specific percent off a certain kind of item or class of items: 50% off children’s clothing or all shoes 75% off. These are usually dependent on their stock of items—when they pile up, the mark-downs happen. So, if you frequent a store, keep an eye on areas that seem to be getting an overstock and know that soon that section will get an overall mark down.
- Specific week sales: At a favorite thrift store of mine, for the last seven days of the month the ENTIRE store is 50% off. They don’t put out any new items this last week of the month, so I try to show up the first few days for the most selection. Then, the first day of the new month brings LOTS of new items if I am looking for something specific and want a nice, new selection.
- Rag Bags: Many stores put together bags of clothing with stains. Usually they are by type and the whole bag is a certain price. They will be hugely discounted. If you’re an ‘upcycler’, these are a goldmine. Usually they have bags of jeans, t-shirts and sheets. Jeans can be turned into skirts or toddler jeans, t-shirts into many things including diapers, and sheets again into many things including unpaper towels, cloth wipes, and rag rugs.
- Specific tag color sales: Many stores mark their items that come in a specific week or month with a certain tag color and then on a rolling basis discount the oldest ‘color’ to get those items out the door.
- Specific sales area: Look for an area, usually near the door, where they have a 25¢ or a $1 rack. Or a fill a bag from this sales bin for a set price.
- Spend a certain amount and get a sales card: One store I frequent gives me $5 off any future purchase any time I spend $25. These are great for stacking up for a future big purchase, or save for when money is tight and I need the $5 off that transaction.
- Volunteer: Some stores allow a discount or certain dollar amount of free items for volunteering.
Second, the way to find the best deals on things you really need is to be a regular shopper. Not necessarily purchaser, but take some time to browse not only your favorite store, but a few others. Get to know the usual price for certain items at each store. Get a feel for how different stores price their items. Some thrift stores ‘vanity price’, meaning that if it is a known brand-name, they will price it for $10 as opposed to the same item with a generic brand for $5. Sometimes the brand name will be of a higher quality and justify the price, but many times, it’s just the name you’re paying for. Keep an eye out for vanity pricing.
Third, only buy what you need. Just like regular shopping, have a list of things you really need to purchase. Not to say you should only buy what is on your list, but if it isn’t on your list, put it in your basket and think about if you really need the item. Will it serve a purpose at your house? Do you need a sixth pair of jeans? Does your daughter really need another fancy dress? Or, will this item just be re-donated in a few months time with very little use? Or, could this item replace several items at your house which you could then donate and free up some space? Don’t take something home just because it’s a good deal!
And lastly, keep an eye out for incredible items that can be easily resold. Don’t buy something you don’t know anything about, but sometimes you’ll run across something you know is a really great deal that you don’t need, but you could resell it on Craigslist, e-Bay, local FB page, etc. I’ve purchased a few amazing items this way and resold for a profit that covered the rest of my thrift trip.
Of course this list isn’t all-inclusive! Do you have more suggestions on how to make thrift store shopping even thriftier?