Thrifting 101: Thrifting Tips for Beginners or Pros – Part I

It’s no secret that I have been thrifting for a very long time and as a result, I’ve become sort of a pro. People that don’t like thrifting, usually don’t like it for the following reasons: used items, especially clothing gives them the heebie jeebies, they don’t like the “hunt” of having to sort through racks of clothes, or the belief that the only clothes that are sold at thrift stores are vintage and/or outdated.

If you’ve gone thrifting before, you know that you can find all sorts of clothing; vintage, gently used and even brand new with the tags clothing. While I can understand that used clothing isn’t for everyone, I dare anyone to go at least once.

Here are my tips for a successful thrifting trip.

Tip #1: Keep an Open Mind.

This isn’t a big box store or your favorite online retailer. Most things at thrift stores are kept either on clothing racks or bins. There may be organization and there might not be. If you shop at your local Goodwill [best example as they’re everywhere in the U.S.] chances are clothing is organized by color. If you go antiquing, it may be sorted by era or just hung up in racks. If its your first time walking into a thrift store, check the scene out before you dive in. If you’re unsure, ask an employee for guidance.

Once you start looking through the racks, look for color, texture, print, design etc. Maybe you like something that you normally wouldn’t wear or maybe it’s vintage. You won’t know if you like it until you try it on – if you’re able to (more of this later). This is the perfect time to experiment with otherwise things you normally wouldn’t pick up or buy (especially online; if you hate online returns like I do, then you get it). Always remember this: Clothes ALWAYS come back around – even if that item that you pick up isn’t “on trend” if you like it, wear it.

Tip #2: Be Patient and go with time to spare.

I promise you not every thrifting trip is going to be successful. Just yesterday, I traveled an hour away from home to a thrift store that was supposed to be the best around and it SUCKED. I was there a solid 3 hours and came up short. Normally, I have a shopping cart full within 30 minutes but here, I was begging to find ONE thing worth the drive. I didn’t. You will have trips like this. Be patience in that you won’t always have good finds and be patience while you are browsing. This isn’t the place to rush. This is the place where you go with time and patience. If you know you have plans within the hour, you may just want to skip it and go on a lazy Sunday or when you’re not booked for the day. My most successful trips have been when I have been there more than an hour. The best advice I can give you here is, thoroughly check racks, bins, baskets, tables etc. Trust me, the more you slowly browse through bins and racks, the more likely you’ll find things. And this is key and leads me to my next tip.

Tip #3: Don’t go shopping for specifics.

You don’t walk in here looking for a specific item, as I like to say, “thrifting tells YOU what you want, not the other way around”, lol. Some days you may find a pot of gold and sometimes, you’ll find nothing and that’s part of the process. If you are looking for something specific, this isn’t the place to shop. If you need a specific pair of black pants or a specific shirt/shoes etc. skip the thrift store and go straight to your trusted retailer. I’m not saying you won’t find it, I’m saying you won’t find that specific item that you need.

Tip #4: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

This is a common mistake that newbies make. Wearing clothing and/or shoes that aren’t comfortable. Since you are going treasure hunting, (and if you’re following my tips with plenty of time), you should wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Not every thrift store has a dressing room and chances are, you may have to try clothes on top of your clothing. Which is why I highly recommend that you wear comfortable clothing for this very reason – I prefer to wear workout clothes (because they’re not bulky) and I can try clothes on top of my clothing. The Goodwills in my area recently removed all fitting rooms (but they updated their return policy) and as a result, you either have to take the items back home to try on and return or (and very discreetly) you can try on clothes onto of your clothes. However, I have encountered in the past that this is frowned up so check with the stores policy before attempting.

Also, since we are still dealing with COVID – but these were also applicable pre-COVID – wear protective gloves and/or face masks. This is especially true if you are shopping at the Goodwill Outlets.

These are my top tips for thrifting – whether you’re new to this or a pro. Stay tuned for part II and let me know in the comments sections if you find these useful, have other tips/rules you follow and of course, if you try these out.



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