My husband recently reminded me that the first words our son read out loud as a toddler were, “thrift store.” That’s because back then, I’d have him on my hip (my son, not my husband) as I searched from one thrift store to the next to find bargains, including toys and kiddie couture. Back then, I shopped because I was bored. Now, I have to thrift because my budget is tighter than it was when I was a ramen-noodle-eating college student!
So here are my favorite thrift store shopping tips. You can thank me later:
Tip #1: Get there early
There’s nothing wrong with getting to the store early and waiting in the parking lot while sipping a cup of coffee. The early bird catches the worm and all. This works at thrift stores, but also is key if you prefer yard sales.
Tip #2: Head to the rear
Once inside, head to the back of the store immediately. Just like at a full-price retailer, sale and clearance items are usually in the rear. I’ve snagged a couple of good bargains this way by not dilly-dallying at the front of the store trying to figure out what the discount color of the day was.
Tip#3: Peek in the donations area
If you spot something being hauled in as a donation, don’t be afraid to ask the manager to price it for you. This doesn’t work at Goodwill as much as it does at smaller, church-sponsored thrift stores. It helps if you already have a rapport with the store’s staff. The lady who manages my favorite thrift store has seen me often enough, that we’re practically friends. More than once, she’s priced and sold something to me before it hits the sales floor.
Tip #4: Search high and low
Don’t ignore items placed on the very bottom shelves, the top shelves above eye level, and tucked behind other items. Doing so might require a few deep knee bends, but you’ll never know what you might yield this way. Also, be on the lookout for items placed in the wrong section and likely discarded by someone who changed their mind about purchasing it.
Tip #5: Ask to receive
I’ve never been shy about asking for a discount. Don’t neglect to ask which days are senior, military, or student discount days. You can often save 10 to 20 percent off of already low, low prices this way.
All in all, I use one or more of these tips each time I visit the thrift store. I also remain focused on securing only what I need, such as the dutch oven I purchased recently to replace the one I burned trying to cook oatmeal. I am a horrible cook, but, hey, that’s another blog post…or maybe not.