What is thrift shopping?
Thrift shopping is basically the act of buying something used. That’s the basic principle anyway, but there are so many ways to go thrift shopping these days, it’s crazy! It’s so accessible now, making it easier than it ever has been to get your hands on some amazing things.
Why is thrift shopping awesome?
So there are sooo many reasons why thrift shopping is awesome. Here’s just a few reasons why I personally partake:
Great prices allow you to save prices and inspire creativity
You can get things seriously cheap while you’re thrift shopping. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you can get nearly brand new and brand new items for a fraction of the retail price.
Other things you might find are more worn or used, but you can still get them at an awesome price. For me, there is a beauty about things like furniture that are worn and used. It feels like a piece of someone’s history, and I really like that.
I’m not big into matchy-matchy home decor, so thrifting is perfect for my style. I don’t need my end tables and my coffee table to match perfectly, they just need to go together and I need to like each one in and of itself. Plus, if I can get things cheap enough, I don’t feel at all bad about changing things up around the house, which I love to do.
Also, when I can get things for a very low price that have been used and may have some wear and tear, I feel completely free to make it over, disassemble it, make something completely new, upcycle it, if you will. I can get a real boost of inspiration when I go thrift shopping!
You know the concept of recycle, reuse, reduce. Thrift shopping is just that. And on that note, if I’m getting rid of something, I will usually try to sell it or donate it before throwing it away. Hey, we’ve all got to do our part!
Weird stuff/one-offs/rare items/things no longer produced
If you’re looking to get away from mass produced items, thrift shopping should really be your go to. You can find some of the weirdest, strangest, most amazing things while thrift shopping. Whether they’re one-offs, rare items, things no longer being produced, handmade items, if you keep your eyes peeled, you can come up with some really cool finds.
I love thrift shopping for home decor because then I won’t have the same decor as every other Joe Schmoe on the block. I want my home to be unique, fun, and a reflection of me and what I like.
Support a worthwhile cause
A lot of times, when you’re thrift shopping, you’re contributing to a worthwhile cause. Most thrift stores have a non-profit behind them. A couple of my favorites support the Humane Society in my town and Habitat for Humanity. So for me it’s just a win-win, I’m getting something cool and contributing to one of my favorite charities.
Thrift shopping is fun!
It’s actually one of my favorite hobbies. I do it less now that I have children to get in and out of the car and who want to buy random items (like all the vacuums), but if I pop into town alone, a lot of times, I will drop by a thrift store and see what’s there. I just can’t help myself, it’s like I’m on a scavenger hunt and I love it so much. Plus, I just love a bargain, so, yet again, a win-win!
Where can you go thrift shopping?
- Thrift stores – GoodWill, Habistore, Salvation Army
- Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp
- Swap meets and flea markets
- Antique shops
- Yard sales, estate sales
- Goodwill online auctions, estate sales online
- Friends of the Library for books (See if your library has this program! It’s awesome!)
When should you go thrift shopping?
Because thrift shopping does involve a little bit of luck and being at the right place at the right time, the more often you go, the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for or something unexpectedly awesome. A lot of avid thrifters will go once a week and make a day or weekend activity out of it.
Of course, if you’re looking for something in particular or if you don’t have the time to go out and about thrift shopping, shopping online at sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Ebay is an awesome way to shop for deals on the go. You can even set alerts on most of these sites to let you know when something you might be interested in comes on the market.
What should you look for when you go thrift shopping?
Really, you can and should look for anything you’re into or are looking for. My favorites are:
- Board games
- Cooking utensils and cast iron pans
On a personal level, I’m not personally into things like clothes, shoes, and purses, so I don’t shop for these hardly ever, like even retail. But I do know that you can get the same kind of awesome deals on these things as well.
How do you go through a thrift store when you’re thrift shopping?
My strategy for thrift shopping is to look at the big stuff first, keeping in mind any projects that I may have going on or anything specific that I’m looking for. I like to go through the furniture first because it’s my favorite. I look at the price, the condition of the item, I open all of the drawers and doors and see what’s working and what’s not.
Then I usually move on to lighting and smaller items. I go up and down every aisle (not clothes and shoes and purses) and look on every shelf. Seriously, I’m not afraid to squat down to the floor and see what’s on that bottom shelf! You never know what kind of treasure is hiding down there!
Don’t forget to look at the appliances, like vacuums (this is how I got an awesome deal on my Kirby!). Also look at frames, not just for the artwork, but what does the frame look like? If you like the frame, you can always find something new to go in it.
How do you know if something you’re looking at while you’re thrift shopping is a win?
If you’re looking at something and you’re not sure if it’s worth the price, look it up on both retail sites as well as Ebay and see what comparable products are selling for.
Also, for things like furniture, look at what the piece is made of, is it solid wood or particle board? These types of things will tell you something about its value.
Another thing that I like to do is look for any markings on the piece that indicate who made it, where it’s from, when it was made, anything to help identify what I’ve found. This gives you more information that you can use to research the piece to figure out what it’s worth.
Ultimately, though, unless you’re looking for things to resell, whether or not something is a win totally comes down to whether or not you like it, will it fit in your home and with your decor, does it inspire you, and can you use it.
Thrift Shopping Tips
- Color of the day – Many thrift stores have tags that are different colors and items with tags that are the color of the day will be marked down some percentage. Ask about this when you go in!
- Things get marked down as time goes on – If you like something but can’t afford it then, if it stays around long enough, it will get marked down. However, this is a risky move because, of course, someone else could always buy it in the meantime.
- Most will let you pick up later – Don’t have your truck on you or need to borrow one for that new furniture? Fret not, most thrift stores will allow you to pick large items up later, as long as it’s within a couple days. Ask your local store what kind of arrangements you can make.
- Ask to test electronics – Most thrift stores can help you test things to make sure that they are working or at least that they turn on.
- Find out about return policies before you buy, if you think you may need it – Return policies vary from store to store, ranging from all sales final to some type of return window. You’ll want to know what your specific store’s policy is before you buy something, just in case.
- If you love something, grab it – Things can move quickly through thrift stores, with new stuff coming in every day. So if there’s something you love, grab it then, don’t wait. It may not be there when you come back.
- Thrift stores have sales! – Like retail stores, many thrift stores will have sales that coincide with holidays, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.
Go Forth and Thrift!
Thrift shopping is one of my favorite past times, and now that you have some of your questions answered about it, I challenge you to go give it a try and see what treasures you can find! Happy thrifting!