How to Shop at a Thrift Store

You wanna pop some tags? Only got $20 in your pocket? I'll show you the way, my friend. I've been thrifting for about 15 years and I still can't get enough. It combines 4 of my favorite hobbies: saving money, reusing / up-cycling, treasure hunting, and having one of a kind pieces that no one else will have.

Tips for Thrifting
  • Pace Yourself. Thrifting can be like a road trip - keep a full stomach and empty bladder! If you go into the store hungry and irritable, you've already lost. You should plan to spend at least 1 hour in the store so you can really dig and find great bargains. 
  • Location Counts. If you're searching for something in particular, location will determine what you will find. Rich neighborhoods yield higher quality and more current items. Older neighborhoods have fantastic vintage items. Southerners love Vera Bradley, Yankees love leather, young neighborhoods have children's items, etc. 
  • Dress appropriately. Not all thrift stores have a dressing room, and the thrift stores that do have dressing rooms are usually packed with other people. With that in mind, it's easiest to wear slim fitting pants, a slim fitting top, and slip-on shoes so you can try things on over your clothes. 
  • Know your brands. You may be surprised how many high-quality brands end up on the racks of a thrift store. There's also a better chance of re-selling the item later if its a recognizable brand.  I bought an Oilily dress for Joanna for $.75 at Goodwill. She wore it about 6 times before outgrowing it. Because of the brand, I was able to sell the dress on eBay for $12! Here are two more examples:
Gap Tunic Dress
Bought for $4.00 / Sold for $64.00
Dallas Mavericks Jersey
Bought for $2.50 / Sold for $23.00
(Be careful - selling on eBay can be very hit and miss. Major brands and professional sports team apparel are more likely to sell, but there are no guarantees.)
  • Discount Days. Some locations offer discount days. Our local Salvation Army takes 25% off every Wednesday. The DAV has $5 bag days where you pay only $5 for whatever you can shove into a bag. Call ahead to see what kind of discount your local thrift store offers.
  • Go with your gut. If something catches your attention, check it out! If it's fabulous but too big, it can be altered. If it's gorgeous and too small, you could use it as something else. A skirt, apron, scarf, etc. Check out New Dress A Day for some incredible before and after photos. The things she comes up with range from simple to genius. 
  • Most things can be fixed with some TLC.  If you can patch a hole or create a hem, you can turn many things into a functional piece of clothing. If something has a stain that doesn't come out, you can dye it to a new color. 
  • Have fun! Thrifting is best enjoyed as an adventure with others. If you can, try to go with others that aren't your size. You may find yourself fighting over bargains. Especially shoes.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis say it best (with many 4-letter words). 
"I'll wear your granddad's clothes. I'll look incredible. 
I'm in this [real big] coat from the thrift store down the road." 
And I've definitely bought a broken keyboard for $.50. I fixed it by replacing the batteries.

Dwight Halloween Costume - $13.00 total
Tie: $1  |  Coat: $7  |  Shirt $3  |  Glasses: $2
Favorite Leather Jacket - $15.00
(And Briana - my partner in crime!)

Dooney and Bourke Leather Bag - $30.00
Retail (new) - $200 to $300
Child's Bin Organizer - $10.00 (Retail $45.00)
My Senior Prom Dress (with shawl) was $4.50.
We added a lace trim and I wore gloves from Claire's - 

those $5 gloves cost more than the dress! 


  1. Yay for thrifting! I'm a new GFC follower and I'm nominating you for a Liebster Award and all the details will be on my blog tomorrow. Check it out and then pass the love along to some other bloggers!


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