Thrifting tips for beginners

25 Thrifting Tips for Beginners from Advanced Thrifters – Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Last Updated: October 19, 2023By

If you’re a novice thrifter, getting some advanced thrifting tips will make your beginner experience worthwhile. Thrifting has become an increasingly popular way to shop sustainably and save money. As a beginner who wants to go thrifting, learning the best tips on how to thrift shop successfully for the best secondhand items can seem daunting.

However, with some smart tips from advanced thrifters, you can master the art of finding amazing deals and hidden treasures.

Today, I’ll share 25 thrifting tips to help you shop at thrift stores like a pro. From how to prepare before you go to what to look for while browsing the aisles, these thrift store shopping tips will transform the way you shop secondhand.

Let’s dig into these handy ideas so you can start thrifting like an expert!

Key Takeaways

After soaking up these thrifting tips and tricks, your shopping skills will be honed to a razor’s edge. Here are the key lessons to walk away with:

  • Scout smart at secondhand shops like Goodwill and Salvation Army armed with an optimized thrifting checklist.
  • Transform into a treasure-hunting bloodhound, sniffing out hidden gems with clever search strategies.
  • Become an antique appraiser—inspecting pre-loved items for quality with a discerning eye.
  • Buy like a savvy reseller, cherry-picking valuable vintage and designer pieces to flip online.
  • Maximize savings by leveraging discounts, loyalty programs, and off-season timing.
  • Gear up in Thrifting Warrior gear—comfortable shoes and easily removable outfits.

Follow this thrifting advice and you’ll undoubtedly emerge victorious with bags full of unbelievable bargains!

The Growing Trend of Thrifting

Thrifting and secondhand shopping have seen a major surge in popularity in recent years. In fact, the secondhand market is projected to double in size in just 5 years. What’s behind this rise? There are a few key reasons:

  • Sustainability: Buying used goods reduces waste and extends the life of existing items. This makes thrifting appealing for environmentally-conscious shoppers looking to live a sustainable lifestyle.
  • Cost savings: Shopping at thrift stores allows savvy shoppers to save 50-90% off retail prices. This is especially helpful for those on a tight budget looking for affordable style.
  • Unique finds: Thrifting lets you discover one-of-a-kind vintage and retro treasures you can’t find anywhere else. For individual style, it can’t be beat when you’re looking for pre-loved clothing and antique furniture.

Now that you know why so many people love thrifting, let’s explore some pro tips to help you get in on the fun and start saving!

1. Essential Thrifting Tips for Success

Starting a successful thrifting habit begins with some core strategies:

  • Make a plan using your smartphone: Scope out local thrift stores on Google Maps and mark the ones you want to visit. Make notes on the best days/times to go based on online info. This allows you to plan your route ahead of time.
  • Sell your pre-loved garments first: Try selling any gently used clothes, shoes, accessories, and household items you no longer need on sites like Poshmark. This earns you cash to put towards new thrifted finds!
  • Dress for the occasion: Wear easily removable layers and slip-on shoes so you can try on thrifted tops, dresses, pants, jackets, and other items easily in the fitting room without hassle.
  • Shop with cash only: Leave the cards at home and only take cash based on the thrifting budget you set for your haul. This prevents those impulse buys that blow your spending goal.

These basic thrifting tips set you up for an organized, profitable trip every time you set out to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Now let’s get into more specific strategies…

2. Know the Best Places to Thrift

Not all secondhand shopping spots are created equal. Here are the top places to discover amazing deals:

  • Thrift stores: Large chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army offer huge inventories spanning clothes, books, furniture, electronics, toys, appliances, and more. Visit their websites for store locators and check for any special promotions or sales events. Go on discount days for the best deals.
  • Garage sales: Nothing beats rummaging through garage sales in your neighborhood on weekends for those rare vintage finds and retro housewares. Arrive early, around 7-8am, for the best selection before things get picked over. Bring small bills so you can negotiate bundle deals.
  • Estate sales: When families liquidate belongings after a death or when moving to a smaller home, you can scoop up home goods, antique furniture, jewelry, art, and other treasures for a steal. lists upcoming sales in your area.
  • Consignment shops: For higher-end and designer goods, these boutique shops often sell lightly used name-brand items at up to 90% off retail prices. Look for shops that cater to your style.
  • Flea markets: Outdoor flea markets are ideal for hunting down antique and vintage goods like memorabilia, retro toys, and more. Come ready to haggle for even deeper discounts.
  • Online thrift stores: Websites like ThredUp, Poshmark, and Depop let you thrift clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods from home. Search by exact brands and use their size charts to find stellar scores.

3. Prepare Before You Thrift

The key to a successful thrifting adventure is planning ahead:

  • Check store days/times for restocking and discounts: Most thrift stores restock certain departments on set days when donation deliveries arrive. Visit on these days for the freshest selection. Also look up discount days, like 50% off clothing on Wednesdays, for boosted savings.
  • Make a thrifting checklist: Note the categories, specific items, sizes, and brands you’re looking for like vintage band tees, designer denim in size 28, midcentury modern decor, etc. This keeps you focused.
  • Bring supplies: Tote along reusable shopping bags, a flashlight (for spotting stains), measuring tape (for furniture), and a retractable magnet (for testing metals).
  • Wear simple outfit and shoes: Opt for basics like leggings or jeans with a t-shirt and cardigan you can layer over when trying on clothes. Well-worn sneakers or flats come on and off quickly.

With the right preparation, your thrifting trips will be streamlined and fruitful. Now let’s get into clever tricks…

4. Insider Thrifting Tricks for Finding the Best Deals

Experienced thrifters rely on smart tactics to uncover hidden gems others overlook:

  • Scan the aisles first: Walk the entire store quickly, just glancing at the visible merchandise for any standout pieces worth revisiting later. This prevents getting bogged down in lackluster sections right off the bat.
  • Tailor your finds: Take ill-fitting pieces that are too big to a tailor to be adjusted for that custom, perfect fit. This opens up way more options since you don’t have to find your exact size.
  • Chat with employees: Getting friendly with staff gives you first dibs on newly donated or processed pieces before they hit the floor. They can let you peek at new arrivals in the back too.

Use these pro tips on your hunt for quality clothing and home goods at rock-bottom prices.

5. Search Smarter When Thrifting

Once you arrive, be strategic in how you search:

  • Check all sections thoroughly: Look beyond just clothing racks to books, electronics, housewares, furniture, shoes, toys, and more. Recheck areas later for newly restocked goodies.
  • Do a full lap first: Get the lay of the land and mentally note where the most promising pieces are located. Then go back and analyze items fully with laser focus.
  • Dig deep into displays: Move hangers aside on racks and rummage to the very bottom of bins. Buried treasures are often uncovered by shifting merchandise around.
  • Take your time: Rushing causes you to overlook hidden gems. Devote plenty of time, a couple hours, to leisurely yet methodically evaluate everything.
  • Inspect opaque containers: Carefully open up boxes, bags, suitcases, and other covered items. Prior shoppers may have stashed little treasures inside.

Thrifting success means being meticulous and dedicated in your search methods.

6. Inspect Items Carefully

When evaluating potential purchases, look for:

  • Flaws: Carefully check for stains, tears, missing buttons, broken zippers, or other damage. Pass on pieces needing more repairs than you can handle.
  • Labels: Fabric content, sizing info, and brand names offer clues to an item’s quality and origins. Natural fibers like 100% cotton and wool last longer.
  • Fit: Try clothing on when fitting rooms are available. Methodically check length, cut, stretch, and fit for your body. Move around to ensure comfort.
  • Function: Plug in electronics, test buttons on appliances, check lamp wiring, and verify all parts are in working order before purchasing.
  • Quality: Assess workmanship, materials, ornamentation details, and condition. Well-made items in great shape make wise buys even if they need minor DIY TLC.

Use these criteria to determine if a potential thrifted item is truly a hidden gem worth investing in.

7. Know What to Buy When Thrifting

When sifting through endless options, keep an eye out for:

  • Classic staples: Well-made basics in materials like leather, denim, and 100% cotton can be worn for years and gain character over time. Seek quality pieces.
  • Sturdy furniture: Solid wood furniture with minimal scratches can be restored to its former glory with a little sanding, staining, or painting. Avoid pieces with missing hardware or broken joints.
  • Popular brands/designers: Mainstream brands like Calvin Klein, Coach, and Kate Spade along with luxury designers command higher resale value online for profit.
  • Generic home goods: Plain vases, lamps, baskets, and decor can be made special with spray paint, decals, stenciling, or other easy DIY upgrades.
  • One-of-a-kind vintage/antique finds: You’re unlikely to find that 1920s typewriter or retro 50s rotary phone anywhere else. They have great vintage appeal.

Think long-term use as well as potential resale value when adding items to your cart.

8. Maximizing Your Savings

You can amplify the already incredible deals at thrift stores using these money-saving secrets:

  • Visit small towns: Less competition at rural thrift stores means better selection of unsifted items and lower prices compared to big city shops with more traffic.
  • Use garment label guides: Decode clothing tags and fabrics using online resources to identify high-end designer pieces and quality materials like silk blends.
  • Shop off-season: Shop for coats and snow gear in summer and sundresses in winter for the biggest markdowns off retail costs.
  • Learn quality indicators: Study up on subtle hallmarks of value like fabric content tags, premium hardware, stitching quality, and timeless silhouettes so you can instantly spot gems.

Use these insider tricks to pay mere cents on the dollar for unbelievable finds.

9. Pro Thrifting Tips for an Enjoyable Experience

Make your shopping trips enjoyable and fruitful with these pointers:

  • Limit shopping time: Attention spans start to wane after a couple of hours in a store. Keep first trips short and focused, building up stamina over time.
  • Dress comfortably: Prioritize comfort in simple layers you can easily shed or add as needed. Think stretchy fabrics that allow movement.
  • See past outdated styles: “Granny” garments and old home goods can be revived with modern embellishments, fabrics, and repurposing into something new.
  • Verify electronics function: Carefully inspect stereos, gadgets, appliances and other electronics, testing buttons and plugging items in to verify proper operation.

Follow this advice for pleasant, efficient thrifting adventures.

10. Bonus Tips and Tricks

Take your thrifting prowess to the next level with these hacks:

  • Try online thrifting: Search for specific pieces and brands from the comfort of your home. Items ship straight to your door for a hassle-free hunt.
  • Maintain a wish list: Keep notes on your phone or in a notebook detailing pieces you’re currently hunting for, like a retro puffer vest, silk scarves, or collectible Pyrex. This helps you recognize items instantly.
  • Maximize loyalty programs: Sign up for thrift store email lists and phone apps to receive coupons and alerts on sales and special promos.
  • Learn recommended buys: Focus on high-return items like cast iron pans, indie band tees, designer denim, leather bags, and collecting-worthy antiques.
  • Get over haggling hesitation: At garage sales and flea markets especially, negotiate sticker prices down further for even greater savings on already stellar deals. Start low and meet in the middle.
  • Bring valuation resources: Use your smartphone to quickly look for fair pricing for rare collectibles, vintage electronics, jewelry, and more so you can spot underpriced goods.

Conclusion: Embracing the Thrifting Lifestyle

With these thrifting tips now in your arsenal, you’re ready to start shopping secondhand like a pro! From statement furniture to entire high-end outfits, you’ll be able to curate incredible looks for your home and wardrobe at a fraction of the normal costs. Plus you can feel good about shopping sustainably.

The thrill of the thrift store treasure hunt awaits. Happy deal hunting! Pass along these pointers to help friends embrace the savings and fun of thrifting too.

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