How to Maximize Your Thrift Store Shopping


Thrift store shopping is a great way to save money, especially on big-ticket items like winter coats or furniture. But walking into a Goodwill or Salvation Army can be overwhelming if you don’t have a gameplan. Racks of random shirts, mismatched plates and glasses, piles of books – it’s a lot to process all at once.

Don’t panic – there is in fact a strategy to thrift store shopping.

With a little preparation, you can maximize your second-hand store visits. Here are five secrets to getting the most out of your trips to the thrift store:

Shop when the seasons change.

Your most successful trips to the thrift store will happen when the flowers start to bloom or when the leaves start to change color. Spring and Fall are the times of year when people everywhere start cleaning and reorganizing their housewares and wardrobes, taking stock in things like sweaters that don’t fit or chinaware they don’t need. When the seasons change, thrift shops will likely get inundated with new items to pick from – and it’s the right time to go shopping.

Shop often.

The beauty (and the frustration) of thrift store shopping is that each item is unique; you’ll be hard-pressed to find the same article of clothing anywhere else in the store. At the same time, you usually won’t be able to get the same t-shirt in a different size if it’s not already the perfect fit. This can make thrift store shopping feel like a treasure hunt where you find gold or a complete let-down if you can’t seem to find any gems in your size. The secret to increasing your odds to finding thrift store treasures is visit the thrift store more frequently than you would a normal department store. With an ever-changing selection, shopping often will increase your odds of finding something incredible.

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Keep up with in-store sales.

Some thrift stores will offer weekly sales on what are already heavily-discounted gently-used items. Goodwill, for example, will often mark down their prices during the middle of the week on specific clothing items, like blouses or pants. By keeping track of regular sales at your favorite second-hand shop you can turn a money-saving trip to the thrift store into a legitimate shopping spree.

Bring in something used whenever you plan to shop.

If you’re heading to the thrift store for some shopping, it’s a good idea to find something in your house or your closet to donate while you’re there. Not only do regular donations literally keep thrift stores in business, but you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something on your trip, even if you end up walking out of the store without having bought anything.


Be prepared to walk away with nothing.

There will be occasions where you’ll spend an hour in a thrift store and walk out with nothing. It might feel disappointing, but don’t get disheartened. If you shop often and always bring in something to donate when you make a trip to the thrift store (tip #2 and tip #4), you can maximize your chances of feeling like your trip was worthwhile.