Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips

Happy National Thrift Shop Day!  Yes, August 17th is the day we celebrate shopping at thrift stores and scoring great deals. I personally plan to celebrate by visiting my two favorite thrift shops later in the day.


To help you celebrate, I thought I would share some of my thrift shopping tips so your next shopping trip can be a success.  Many of these tips will be useful at garage sales and antique stores as well.

#1 Go with a list

Make a list of the items you would like to look for before you leave the house.  Are you shopping for clothes, household items, or a great piece of furniture to redo?  Instead of just wandering around with no plan, you can save time by having an idea of what you would like to search for.


#2 Be flexible and keep your eyes open

Seems like a conflict with my first tip doesn't it?  Well, if you plan on looking at housewares and pass by the lighting section and see the perfect lampshade for your spare bedroom, go ahead and buy it if it's a good deal.

#3 Location makes a difference

Quite often if you want to find quality items, you need to find a thrift store that is in a nicer area.  The items that are donated will tend to be in better shape and not as picked over.  There are two thrift stores that are nearby run by the same company, but they have very different merchandise.  One is near a college and in an older section of town and seems to have items that have been used, given to friends to use, then donated when it's about worn out.  The other thrift store is in a nearby city that has a higher income bracket, and their items are in much better condition and seem to have more brand names.  That's not to say that all thrift stores in older sections of town are not good to shop at. I find some great deals on crafting items at the one near the college, but the kids clothes aren't in as good of condition so I don't usually look in that section.


My greatest thrift store find ever, this Tommy Hilfiger purse, was only .50 and I found it at the thrift store near the college.

#4 Timing is everything

Finding out which days your thrift store displays new products makes a huge difference.  Ask the cashier or another employee the next time you are at the thrift store which days they put new items out.  Some do it every day.  A lot of people drop off their donated items on Saturdays and it may take a few days to process the new donations.  Finding out which days have the newest products will help you plan your shopping trip.

#5 Daily Deals

Many thrift stores have certain items a percentage off on certain days.  At one of my favorite thrift stores they have up to 35% off the ticketed price every day for different sections of the store; housewares one day, men's clothes another day, toys, etc.  Also remember to look in your bag after you leave, quite a few stores will put in a flyer for upcoming sales or leave a coupon in there for you.

#6 Donate your own items

When you drop off your donated items, many stores will give you a discount coupon to shop at their store.  At my old job my boss was getting rid of some furniture and I offered to take it to the donation drop off.  I received a 25% off coupon for my next purchase.

Photo Credit

#7 Set a budget

One of the dangers of thrift shopping is buying items just because they are on a great deal.  If you have picked out items that equal your pre-set amount, then see a 12 piece set of dishes that is only $1.50, but you really have no use for it, don't just buy it because it's on a good deal.  You have to consider how much you are spending and how much space you have at your home to store your great finds.  Sometimes it's best to just bring cash with you so you don't overspend.

#8 Know all your thrifting options

Want to find all thrift stores nearby?  Visit this site and enter your zip code, it will then generate a list of nearby thrift stores.

#9 Haggling is an option

If you feel comfortable, ask the cashier if they will give you a lower price.  This is especially successful when an item has some damage.  It never hurts to ask.

#10 Vacation Thrifting

Have some extra time on one of your road trips?  Check out a local flea market, antique mall, or thrift store.  Different areas have new and interesting items.  You never know what treasures you will find.  I have a friend that takes a family vacation every year to the same place and they make sure to hit the flea market while they are there.  She has gotten some awesome deals!

Those are my 10 tips to thrift shopping.  I hope that some of these are useful to you!

CLICK HERE to see more of my thrift store finds.  Some are just great deals that I got and some are items I found and updated.  I would love to hear which ones are your favorite.

26 comments

  1. I love thrifting and these tips will be especially helpful!

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    1. Glad you stopped by today January!

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  2. I love thrifting and upcycling what I thrift. Just reading this post has me itching to go thrifting. I never go with a list but I always set a budget. Thank you so much for the great tips.

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    1. Thanks Maria. I haven't been to a thrift store for a few weeks and have definitely missed it! I'm stopping by a few today to see if there is anything I can upcycle.

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  3. I love thrifting while on vacation and visiting thrift shops I have never been to before. I the rest of the family does not think it is so fun, especially when we can hardly get in the van because I have found something huge or too many little things.

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    1. I love to stop at antique or thrift stores in little towns. They have the most interesting items.

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  4. We go to goodwill often but never bring a list. I should start a list of things we need.

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    1. I took my list yesterday and found all but one item that I was looking for. Of course, I also found a few items I didn't have on my list too. =)

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  5. I am reading this at a thrift store, what a perfect timing! :) Thanks for sharing these great tips!

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  6. Great ideas for thrift-shopping! That way you are prepared and won't waste any time :-)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Sharon!

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  7. This is a great list! I am visiting a thrift store with my friend tomorrow. She was asking me for tips, and I can't wait to show her this post. I hope to improve my finds :) Thank you!!

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    1. Glad it helped you out. =) Have a fun shopping trip!

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  8. Great tips. I especially like the location tip. I have never even thought of that. But it makes total sense. I haven't been to a thrift store in awhile but now I'm thinking I should go! I think I'll try to stop by one this weekend.

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    1. Glad my tips were something to think about Christina. =)

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  9. I have a couple of great thrift stores in my area, but timing is TOTALLY everything and I definitely go in with a specific project or idea in mind. Thanks for linking up to Blogger Brags. I have pinned your post to the Blogger Brags Pinterest board.

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  10. I wish we had more options for thrift stores in this area. I recently went and bought some great deals I can't wait to share on here.

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  11. I didn't know there WAS such a day! Hope you had a happy one! Here from Tips and Tricks.

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    1. I think there is a day for just about anything you can think of! It's kind of silly, but some are fun to celebrate.

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  12. This is such a great list! I need to start finding some furniture pieces for the house we are building and I think you can find some great things at thrift shops. You are right, timing is everything. I think it's good to know when new things come in so you can pick up the great finds first.

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    1. I have a hard time finding good furniture pieces. I think that is just because of the limited thrift stores in my area. I'd love to see some of your items when you get them!

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  13. I love thrifting! Thanks for the tips:)

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    1. Your welcome Heather! Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. I find day planners and purses in great condition all the time!

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    1. So glad to hear that you like to thrift shop too! I wrote a whole post about cute purses I've found at the thrift store. =)

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