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My Top 5 Thrifting Tips

top thrifting tips

(My most recent thrifting haul – a wardrobe update for fall…whenever it gets here!)

As you may know from following my Instagram feed, I’m an avid thrifter. My love for thrifting started in high school, and followed me well into adulthood. I grew up in a college town, which meant we had amazing thrift shops (thanks to the annual “I’m moving out and have too much shit” effect). My favorite thrift score to date was finding my sister a vintage homecoming dress, straight out of the 1950s. It looked amazing on her, and she could guarantee no one was going to show up wearing anything like it!

After years of thrift shopping, these are my top thrifting tips that work well for me! Feel free to leave your own tips and tricks in the comments!

My Top 5 Thrifting Tips

Tip #1: Do some research before you go!

Before heading out, I suggest researching your local thrift shops online. You can find out their hours, specials or sales, and if their proceeds go toward a charity/cause. This will help you find the best thrift shop for your needs!

Also, if you’re planning to look for furniture or other large items, have a plan for how to get them home! You can easily rent a truck from a moving company, or by the hour from places like Home Depot. In Seattle, some of our Goodwill shops even have Zipcar vans you can rent!

Tip #2: Make a list to keep you on track!

Thrifting can be incredibly overwhelming – especially if you don’t have a game plan! Bring a list of things you’re looking for to keep from getting swamped.

I like to shop for one category or theme each time I head out. For example, I’ll spend one afternoon looking for furniture at a few places. Next time, I’ll focus on books or clothes. Having a specific item in mind keeps you from feeling rushed or tempted to buy too much.

Tip #3: Sizes are arbitrary!

Anyone who has tried to buy vintage will tell you not to bother with size tags. Many of the clothes in thrift shops have outdated sizing, have stretched over time (especially jeans), or been tailored. When looking for clothing, don’t rule out looking a couple sizes up or down!

It’s a good idea to try on clothing before you buy it, but that’s up to how comfortable you are or if the store has changing rooms.

Tip #4: Be realistic about upscaling/repairs!

When you start thrifting, it’s tempting to purchase a “fixer-upper.” Whether it’s a dresser that needs some paint, or blouse that just needs an extra button, you can find great stuff that just needs a little TLC! However, you should be honest about your ability and desire to fix things.

If you already have a stack of clothes that need mending you haven’t touched in months, don’t add to the pile. Also, when it comes to furniture, make sure you have the space to clean/paint/stain your new piece safely!

Tip #5: Be super nice to people working there!

A little kindness really goes a long way at your local thrift shop! I find that when I’m friendly with the staff, I have an easier time bargaining or getting a better deal. More often than not, they’ll give me the employee discount, extra savings points, or “forget” to scan a book or two. If they do, remember to thank them!

However, some places don’t allow for it, so don’t be too disappointed if they say no. It’s probably against their policies, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Just say thanks, and remember you’re getting a major steal anyway!

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There you go – my top thrifting tips to make your next trip run smoothly!