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Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Over the last couple of months I’ve increased my visits to thrift stores.For as long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed shopping thrift stores. As a teenager I remember picking up armloads of jeans and a vintage navy pea coat. As an adult I still search for simple basics like jeans and fun sweaters but I also love getting things for the kids and the home.  Basic frames can be repainted. Jars can be re-purposed into bud vases or bathroom decor. Sheets can be used altered into simple curtains. The sky is the limit.

Having 3 kids in school this year was a blow to the wallet. Usually Shae could get by with leggings and tees but now that she’s all grown up she needs real clothes to get her through the day. Sabreena is a special kid. She has a unique style and loves to incorporate old and new, hipster and trendy. She loves scoring a Mister Rogers sweater with elbow patches even more than me. Shaun grew 4 inches and gained 20lbs since last year. He needed an entirely new wardrobe.

Finding great things at thrift stores or even flea markets is hit or miss. I’ve been able to pick up awesome pieces for me and the girls but not so much for Shaun and NOTHING for Rob. I want to show you some of the things that I have gotten recently and give you some tips to make your own thrift shopping adventures go more smoothly.

  • Pack Light. Don’t way yourself down with a bulky handbag or heavy coat. Slip your phone, wallet or cash/cc in your pocket and wear a light sweater. As you are rummaging through bins or shelves or racks you don’t want to worry about where your coat and purse are.
  • Set a Budget. It’s easy to get carried away when things only cost a couple dollars. Buy ONLY what will get used, use the same discretion for impulse buys as you would any other store.
  • Bring Cash. Some mom and pop shops may not accept credit cards so be prepared with cash. This is a great way to stay within budget too.
  • Dig Deep. You aren’t going to find anything if you just skim displays. Dip deep within the racks and find that hidden gem.
  • Examine Everything. There is nothing worse than coming home, sorting through goodies and seeing missing buttons or broken clasps. Thoroughly look over every item you think you want to buy. Check seams, zippers, button holes, collars and even pockets. Try things on to make sure that size medium hasn’t been altered to fit a petite also. Don’t forget the glassware and jewelry.
  • Give it a Chance. If you go and don’t find anything don’t give up. Ask how often they rotate stock or when they replenish what’s on the floor. Come back a different day. Try visiting a different store, inventory is going to be different everywhere you go, any day you go.
  • Have a Plan. Make sure you have sizes and dimensions for anything or anyone you are shopping for. If you know you need a cute side table, measure out the space you need to fill so you won’t waste your money on something too big. Measure windows for the correct length of curtains and make sure you have your kids current sizes for coats, clothing and even fun costumes.

Here are my latest finds from my favorite Salvation Army. This particular store is so well organized and brightly lit that I easily spend 2 hours in there at a time.
I told you Shaun has grown so much from last year. He needed a new coat and this one is a perfect fit.

Buy clothes for Shae is often hit or miss. Kids are hard on their clothes but these were in really great condition.

I’ve been collecting this really expensive pottery for a few years. Most of it comes from the same potter but since they moved to New York I haven’t been able to get anything new recently. I found these adorable piece that complement what I already have and it fills the need to buy the more costly pieces online.

Rob buys me flowers pretty often but I absolutely hate the stock vases that flower shoppes offer so I like to keep some fun choices on hand to make the switch when he surprises me with a bouquet.

Do you shop Thrift Stores?   What are your own rules and tips for getting good deals, great items and saving money?