How to Shop at a Thrift Store

One question I get asked quite a bit is “how do your shop at a Thrift Store“?
Well – I’ll tell you – it is a mix of science, research, art and…GOOD LUCK!
Here are some basic tips that will help you as you head out to fill your closets with fab finds for Fall!
1. Be patient The biggest tip I can offer is to be patient!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve frequented stores searching for an authentic vintage Louis Vuitton (anyone out there have one?  message me!).  But many times on those “scouting trips” I find something else amazing…like Gucci sandals, 7 (seven)-jeans, Anthropologie skirt.  All things I would not have in my closet (all for under $20, by the way!) if I hadn’t stopped in searching for that vintage LV.
2. Be ready to dig Think of this kind of shopping like an archeological dig, or treasure hunt.  You really don’t know what you will find until you dig through a lot of other stuff.  This means your Thrift Shop shopping trips may take some time. Be prepared to invest that time. What you invest in time you will save 10-fold in your wallet!
3. Be friendly Everyone who’s worked in a customer service position knows what a big difference one nice person can make in your day. Besides, being nice pays off; in return for your smile the person checking you out might tell you about a 50% off day or suggest a “preferred customer” shopping program!
4. Avoid binging, shop with cash It can be tempting to stock up when you go to a thrift store – I’ve done it, and end up with all kinds of things that end up getting donated back to Goodwill.  If you are on a tight budget, it is wise to seek out sale days, and implement a ‘cash only’ policy.
5. Go in With a Plan Know ahead of time what you need. The organization of each store can be a bit different, and might be overwhelming. So if you go knowing you’re looking for 12-24 month-old boy’s khakis, and size 8 black dress shoes, it can be a lot less stressful.
6. Be Open-Minded That said, keep your eyes open for any surprising deals. It’s hit-or-miss with thrift stores, so sometimes you really hit the jackpot (remember my note above about the Gucci sandals, Anthropologie skirt and 7 (Seven) jeans?). You need to make sure what you find is actually something you need – otherwise, you’re just over buying. Think about unexpected gift ideas. You could find birthday gifts for all your nieces and nephews, or you might find throw pillows in just the right shade your friend is looking for.
7. To Brands or not to brand It is true that there is a coorelation between quality and price – which means know your brands.
8. Try Things On Always try things on. Just because it’s a beautiful silk Ann Taylor skirt doesn’t mean you should buy it. If it doesn’t fit well, then it’s a needless purchase and will only clutter your closet. And different brands size things differently, so you can’t assume anything by the number on the tag.  One last comment on this – many people alter clothes.  Just because the tag says it is a size 10 doesn’t necessarily mean it is a 10.
9. Don’t Go With Kids Sure, you may have to bring them sometimes. But if you’re armed with a detailed list, it can be hard to get much accomplished at a thrift store when you have little ones to watch. Shopping at thrift stores means having to sift through lots of aisles of crammed-full racks. If you have to bring your kids, plan on just shopping one of the store’s sections, and then come back another day to shop the rest.
10. Find Ways To Repurpose Think creatively when you head out to your local Goodwill store. I read about a woman who was looking for a Christmas tree skirt, but she happened upon a perfect vintage tablecloth with red and green flowers. It was thick, durable canvas with a beautiful red fringed border – and it will work better as a tree skirt than she had originally planned.