Over the years I have grown to appreciate the art of thrifting.
Yes, it’s an art.
It takes a little bit of knowledge, a whole lot of patience and a few tricks to make sure you’re maximizing your luck. I have been lucky enough to find a few really amazing unicorns (definition: extremely rare finds), if you will.
In December of 2016 I found a Louis Vuitton speedy bag for $12 which is LV verified and valued at well over $12. It was not even in the glass case – it was just out with the shoes & I picked it up checked out the serial number and it was real! I’ve found many antique Ball canning jars for under $1 that I’ve used to throw showers, parties & just to decorate my own home. This past summer I found a set of 4 anthro coasters for $1 that were regularly $18 EACH! Basically, if you take the time to hunt the deals are there!
Below I’ll outline some of my best practice tips for thrifting. If you’re a thrifter or garage saler I would love to hear your tips, too!
1. Don’t go during peak hours.
Saturdays and Sundays tend to be peak thrifting times because most people are out and about. This is also the time when most of the items are donated. I tend to find the best luck going on Mondays or Tuesdays. The store tends to be less crowded and there is a lot more inventory on the floor because staff has actually had time to process through donations, tag it and place it on the floor.
2. Know what you’re looking for & make shorter more frequent trips just looking for that specific item.
If you’re like me it’s easy to go into a thrift store and spend an hour or two. If I’m going with my sister I know we will probably be there for 2-3 hours even. What I’ve found to be helpful is finding a neighborhood thrift store and making more frequent trips looking for specific items. For example, I collect old wooden spools and vintage plates. New inventory comes in daily so I’ve found if I make a trip and JUST go to the plates and crafts section then I’m not buying more items I don’t need and am able to score more plates and spools if my store got some new donations in!
3. Donate more than you buy.
This might sound like a given, but sometimes seeing things in a thrift store so much cheaper than they are in big box stores can make it easy to purchase a lot more than we need. My rule of thumb is that I don’t purchase anything for a new project unless all of my current outstanding projects are complete. For example, I’m wanting to get some thrifted picture frames to spray paint to switch up some of the ones we have now. But I have a few other projects I’m still working on so I’m going to wait on the frames for now – even if I see super cute and inexpensive ones!
4. Set a budget and stick to it.
I love to challenge myself to see if I can either flip something for a profit that I find in a thrift store or redo a room in my house for a super low limit like $20. That way you aren’t going in with a blank check to buy used items, but are able to exercise true thriftiness to see how long your $20 can stretch.
5. Make friends with the employees!
This might be hard for you if you’re not one that loves to make small talk but trust me this helps! People working in thrift stores are just like you in your job – they appreciate kindness and enjoy their day being broken up a bit. Especially if you’re planning to follow step 2 and make more frequent trips into your neighborhood thrift store I cannot stress this enough! Employees know when new shipments come in, the best times to shop and have so much valuable knowledge!
6. Ask if your thrift store gets salvage shipments & when.
For example, I also have a Target in my neighborhood that drops off salvage items weekly. I used to think it was on Mondays but since talking with an employee found out the day changed so now I plan my trips around that information. There are actually a lot of salvage companies that have agreements with big name thrift stores like the Salvation Army & Goodwill. Employees are the best resource to know this kind of information so just ask! These items are new, just weren’t sold in store and are given to the thrift store to try to sell. I’ve found some amazing deals this way!
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for a cheaper price.
Buying a whole set of something or notice a pricing discrepancy? Just ask! If you’ve followed step 5 employees are more likely to give a discount or make something down simply because you are a regular!
8. Watch your cart!
It hasn’t happened to me specifically but I was thrifting with a friend and she had placed an amazing agate clock in our cart. Minutes later as we continued to look in the home goods section we noticed the clock had been swiped! We looked all over but the clock thief was gone! After that incident I’ve used my hands or a basket to avoid another shopper taking something out of a cart or thinking it was a cart full of new merchandise.
9. Get creative.
My problem is sometimes I take this tip a little TOO far– but use the phrase “one many’s trash is another man’s treasure” to be inspired. There are so many Pinterest crafts you can make with items found in thrift stores. Here are a couple of my favorites:
DIY Sweater Pillow
10. Be patient
Maybe you won’t find your Louis your first thrifting trip, but I’m a firm believer that the luck component in thrifting is huge. Keep going & you will surely have some amazing finds to share with friends and family!
Have you had good luck finding a unicorn thrifting or have any tips I forgot?! Share them below!