8 Secrets to Bargain Hunting at Thrift Stores

You are a thrift store shopper. You are doing your part to reduce consumption.

You’re saving money into the deal, and you also get a rush of excitement each time you score an item you love for a teeny tiny fraction of the original price. How can you maximize your thrift shore shopping success?

Target High-Income Areas

Don’t visit the same old store each week. Spread your wings and try out new thrift stores located in the affluent areas of your city.



The higher the average income of an area, the more likely you are to find brand name items and merchandise in near perfect condition.

The trade-off is that the prices might be a little higher than chain thrift stores like Goodwill.

Timing is Everything

When do you go through your garage and donate your unwanted stuff? Most people start “cleaning house” in the springtime. Some get a donation together during the holidays.

The changing seasons bring new items to thrift stores and each demographic and geographic area has its own trends.

You’re in this for the long haul. You have years of successful thrift shopping ahead of you, so pay attention to the time of month and year when your usual thrift stores have an influx of desirable items.

thrift shop

Also talk to your regular thrift store employees and inquire about donation delivery dates. Once the items are delivered, what days of the week does the store normally process and put out new shipments?

Time your weekly thrift store visits to coincide with the store’s schedule so that you are always sifting through a fresh batch of items.

Shop Outside Your Size Range

Not all thrift stores arrange their clothes in a well-organized fashion according to size. However, if you’re used to only considering clothes in your exact size, start perusing elsewhere as well.

Thrift stores clothes are typically well-worn and may be stretched out. A cotton shirt could also have shrunk to a tighter fit. You might be able to go up or down a size or two and find things that fit.

Don’t Just Focus on Clothes

As with all shopping excursions, clothes are usually a main focus. Thrift stores carry many more treasures than you might think, some a lot more exciting than a new pair of jeans.

Here is a list of items you can find at thrift stores for shockingly low prices:

  • Vinyl records
  • Books
  • CDs
  • Shoes
  • Winter hats and gloves
  • Jewelry
  • Cookware
  • Home decorations
  • Furniture
  • Children’s toys

Branching out and considering other thrift store departments can result in newfound thrift store shopping satisfaction. Also, if you find good items with good resale value, you could sell it on Craigslist.

Envision What an Item Could Be

Usually thrift stores will not sell items that are completely beyond repair, though it might seem like it at first glance. Your job as a thrift store shopper is to look past the blemishes that have deterred the shoppers before you and the item’s original owner.

With a little bit of elbow grease, some needle and thread, or a jar of furniture stain and some sandpaper, you could transform a lost cause into a winner, be it a kitchen pan, a sweater or a bureau.

Follow the Sales



Just like retailers, thrift stores run weekly, monthly and seasonal sales campaigns. They need to clear merchandise just like other stores. Make a list of the area thrift stores you frequent and mark your calendar for sales.

You could end up getting a 50% discount on an already rock bottom price.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Do you know your local thrift store’s return policy? You probably do not, because they probably do not have one. Most thrift stores have a “you buy it, you own it” rule, and no “backsies” are allowed.

Plug in all electronic items and ensure they are functioning properly before you plunk down your cash. You might think you found a great deal, but getting home and discovering that your purchase does not work can be a mood killer.

Price Negotiation is Allowed

While this is mostly untrue for chain, nationwide corporate thrift stores, local thrift stores have been known to lower their prices when customers haggle.

Don’t settle for what is on the price tag if you have a lower value in mind for the item and think you can pull off a little negotiation.

Take these tips into account when planning your next thrift store excursion – your vintage discoveries will multiply without your bank account taking a hit.

1 thought on “8 Secrets to Bargain Hunting at Thrift Stores”

  1. I f’n love shopping at thrift stores. The downside is my closest thrift shop is just a few minutes away so I spend a little more money there than I would like to because it’s so convenient.

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