Tips for Shopping the Thrift Stores

Shopping at a thrift store is nothing like shopping at one of the big retail outlets. You don’t generally go into a thrift store with a list and come out with everything on it. You need a different mindset for shopping thrift stores.

Think of It as a Scavenger Hunt

You might actually have a list of items you are looking for but shopping a thrift store is more like going to yard sales on a Saturday afternoon. You might go to several and not find anything then suddenly come upon one that has most of the items you were looking for. Thrift store shopping should be done when you have a little leisure time and can spend time going through racks and shelves, looking for the treasure hidden there.

Make Sure You Need It

With all this careful exploration you are bound to come across some items that are just intriguing. They might be unique or remind you of one you owned in the past. Over time you can spend a lot of money on doo-dads and what-nots if you’re not careful. That kind of defeats the purpose of going to the thrift store. Stay focused and only buy items you can really use.

Watch for Specials

Some thrift stores use colored tags to price their items. Each week a different color tag goes on sale for 50 or even 75 % off. These are usually items that haven’t sold in a month or more but you can pick up some good deals if you are aware of the specials offered in your stores.

Leave Empty Handed

You will not always find something. You may even go several visits without finding something. Don’t feel as though you have to buy something each time you go. You are there to find deals and save money. Spending it out of some kind of misplaced guilt will do you no good.


This does not work very often, especially in the national chain thrift stores but sometimes you can get lucky. Occasionally something will be marked wrong and you can bring that to a manager’s attention. You might find several rolls of wallpaper you love and offer a price if you buy all of them. The thrift stores are there to make a profit too. Making a sale is better than keeping those rolls of wallpaper for months.


Give back to your community by donating items you no longer use. You will make yourself known to the staff and a good rapport is a good thing to have. Plus you’ll be cleaning the clutter from your own home and keeping useful items out of the landfills. That sounds like a win-win to me.