15 More Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Hope everyone is getting ready for 'Thursdays are for Thrifters' tomorrow! Last week was our biggest week yet and I'm hoping this week will be just as big! I love seeing all your thrifted finds and outfits and hope you're ready and spreading the word! Since lately I've had several people leave me comments about how much fun thrifting sounds but how they aren't sure how to start, I decided to provide some more. You can find the first 15 tips for thrifting
here. Hopefully the new tips will inspire you to give it a shot for yourself! If you have any questions, let me know!

1. Know what’s worth saving. Vintage fabric that has yellowed is easy to brighten up and surface stains can be easy to remove, but if a stain has seeped through to the underside of the fabric, it’s much more difficult to deal with. To remove a surface stain or brighten yellowed fabric, fill your sink with cold water and wet the material. Then pour a little bit of gentle, liquid laundry detergent (I’m a fan of Woolite) onto the stain or yellowed area. Rub the fabric against itself until you see the discoloration disappear. Then hang to dry. Never put a stained piece of clothing in the dryer until you know the stain is completely gone or you will set the stain and it will become nearly impossible to remove.

2. Cross examine. You might not normally be into wearing men’s clothing, but the men’s side of a thrift store can open a world of possibilities. Want some $2 t-shirts to distress? You’ll find them there. Great western-inspired hats? Those are there too. In the market for the perfectly fitted blazer for less than $5? Check the little boys’ section.

3. Ask for a price reduction. At many thrift stores (particularly at Goodwills, but others too), employees can set prices and take offers. If you see something you like, but think it’s overpriced, don’t be afraid to make a lower offer. And if the item is damaged, be sure to point that out. It doesn’t always work, but it never hurts to try.

4. Wear something easy to try things on over, in case there isn’t a fitting room. Leggings are ideal because you can try on shorts and skirts over them and still get a feel for how they fit you. Try to dress in single layers, if possible. This also makes trying clothes on in a dressing room easier when you have a large number of items.

5. Shop for what you like, not for an item’s value. As thrifting becomes more and more popular, it gets harder and harder to find high-end, vintage and highly collectible items. But that doesn’t mean that what’s in thrift stores doesn’t have value. Forget labels and what something is going for on eBay; shop for what you like and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

6. Come up with a thrifting schedule, if you can. If you’re shopping with a purpose-like decorating a new apartment-you’ll want to go at least once a week and find out when stock is shifted so you can hit the right stores at the times you’re most likely to find the newest merchandise.

7. Start shopping in the area you most want to find something. Though it’s important to go in with an open mind, you usually know if you’d rather find a great dress or a pair of pants. One of my favorite thrift stores has an all-vintage section. Though it’s in the very back of the store, I always head to it first. Then I check purses and hats because one great accessory can help out any number of outfits. After looking in the areas I am really hoping to find something in, I take the time to look through the entire store, even in areas I wouldn’t expect to find anything I would want.

8. Don’t forget to check the prices. Thrift store employees who price merchandise know what people are looking for-so new items with tags still on them might be priced close to retail price and expensive fabrics and brands are also priced higher than the average item too. If the item is perfect-perfect condition, fits perfectly and is exactly what you want-then you might not mind paying more for it. Otherwise, it’s probably not really the bargain you were hoping for when you started thrift shopping.

9. Once you have found some favorite thrift stores, ask if they offer a value card or e-mail list for loyal customers. One store I shop at issues value cards worth 25% off on certain days off the week and sends out e-mails periodically saying they will be worth 50% for a limited time and all you have to do is sign up!

10. Have a use in mind for anything you buy. When things are cheap, it’s easy to overbuy. To avoid this, have a specific use in mind for any item you pick up before you purchase it. If you don’t know where you could put it or how you’d use it, you probably don’t need it.

11. Get a cart. This may seem like common sense, but when you first go in the door, get a cart. You may not find anything, but you may find something you have to have. If you walk away to get a cart, it may not be there when you return. Also, you can put anything you’re interested in the cart, and then sort through it before checking out, making sure you have a clear purpose for everything you find.

12. Don’t forget that thrift store shopping isn’t just about clothes. You can find everything in thrift stores-from records to home d├ęcor. I love looking for books at thrift stores because many stores price books at just 50 cents. I’ve found some of my absolute favorite books thrifting.

13. Make sure you love anything you are going to buy. Just because a shirt is the cutest one in a Goodwill doesn’t mean it’s something you really like. It’s easy to find the one item you can tolerate amongst a sea of things you’d never wear. So make sure you really love an item and consider how it fits into your personal style and closet. Can you think of several ways you could wear it? If so, it’s probably safe to buy it.

14. Check the clearance rack. Lots of thrift stores have a clearance rack or section, where items are up to 50% off. Some stores move the day’s specials to that section, so you’re as likely to find a great piece there as anywhere in the store!

15. Make a day of it. Searching through the racks takes time and you don’t want to miss anything. Give yourself plenty of time and every opportunity to find something you’ll love and get a great deal on by making a day of it!


  1. this are such great tips. i'm doing No Buy July and have promised myself not to shop even until the end of August except for ONE day of going to a HUGE donations sorting warehouse where you can purchase clothing by the bag. of course it's still in piles and you have to sort, but basically i'll get to have first dibs on clothing coming from every area of sydney... i'm SO excited

  2. I have considered myself a veteran thrifter, but I have never tried #3. May have to take a stab at that. Great ideas here and true to my own experience.

  3. Such an awesome post...I am not great at thrift store shopping, but I'm trying to get better because it's such an untapped resource for me.

    I can't wait to put some of your tips to use :)

  4. This is a really great informative post! It definitely makes me want to go thrifting.


  5. Thanks for the hints!! I love thrifting!!


  6. great tips! You always have the thriftiest and most wonderful finds!


  7. These are great tips!! I especially like the suggestion to start shopping in an area where you most want to find something. That's so important!

    bubby & bean

  8. thanks for the tips!!
    i just recently started to become interested in thrifting!!
    and i like your tip about the little boys section haha i will def do that next time!

  9. This post is fabulous, everything is so true. I'm a thrift addict and I always try to spread the word about how great it is.


  10. tweeted about this post, told you i like to spread the word ;)


  11. These are fabulous tips! I really like that you said "have a use for it"...it's so easy to buy "project pieces" but if I won't do it, then it's not worth it! So be realistic about it, ha.

    And yes, the consignment shop I work in is the best!!! The Jeffery Campbells I got were $18 and I've also found awesome deals on designer bags and denim, I got a vintage Burberry skirt and a vintage Prada blouse. I feel really lucky to work at such a cool shop! But I never have any $...just lots of clothes!

  12. I read this post and the other one and I have to say I agree with everything that you've written!! I've been thrifting since high school though and the one thing I have yet to do is ask for a price reduction...do they often do that at chains like goodwill and salvation army, or is it more at smaller private stores?

    One thing I'd add to your list is make sure you are well fed when you go!! I always have way less patience to go through all the racks when I'm hungry.

  13. These are great tips, thanks for sharing! I like the idea of looking for blazers in the boys' section.

  14. These are such great tips! I really like #9- that is something I haven't done before. I'm so glad to be following you!


  15. Fantastic tips. I agree with the don't buy the new with tags, higher priced items unless they're perfect. I found CK shoes for $35, they were amazing, but had a bit of wear. I was going to buy them no questions asked, until I tried em on and found they were a bit too snug. If I going to spend that kind of money on second hand shoes, they better fit perfectly, lol.


  16. Meagan, Great tips! I always grab a buggy, too, because I tend to try more items than I buy. Good point to not overbuy because it's all cheap. Debbie http://thriftygirlvintage.com

  17. great tips! this will be helpful for me when i go thrifting. hopefully tomorrow!


  18. I love your thrifting tips, I am a huge fan of all things vintage and second-hand. Thanks so much for sharing these.
    Love K

  19. This is such a good guide with really useful tips :) Ahh I'm not assertive enough to ask for a reduction though! My friend and I once managed in a high street store with a dress she loved which had make up stains on- which did wash out but we weren't confident enough in that to pay full price!

    Florrie x