The Ultimate Thrift Shopping Guide

The Ultimate Thrift Shopping Guide

Growing up, my mom used to beg me to shop in the clearance section at stores. I am the youngest sibling in my family, and that means hand-me-downs! The rebellious nature in me always wanted new, new, new, and I kept this mentality for the majority of my life. That was until I discovered thrift shopping and how fun and adventurous it can actually be.

Clothes shopping in a thrift store can be overwhelming. Oftentimes they have racks full of clothes lining the entirety of the store and you may not know where to start. Well, I’m here to help you! Here is how I personally tackle thrift stores, and hopefully you can try out some of these tips!

  1. Make a day out of it.
    If you want a fruitful thrift shopping experience, you really have to set aside the time for it. You will increase your chances of finding clothes you like by going to multiple thrift stores, and that can take a big chunk of your day. I usually spend about an hour to an hour and a half in each store. Some big name thrift shops here in the U.S. include Goodwill and Plato’s Closet, but also be to sure to check out your local thrift shops as well. You will spend a lot of time looking through all of the racks, so mark off a Saturday to do so!
  2. Be patient.
    Some days you get lucky and find tons of cute clothes in your size, and other days you may only scrape by with a couple of items. It’s a game of chance as you never really know what these stores are carrying at the time, so go into it with an open mind.
  3. Figure out how the store is organized.
    Thrift stores organize their clothes by color, size, type of clothing, or a combination of the three. It’s pretty easy to figure out once you get into the store, but it’s good to know so you can navigate the racks more efficiently. For instance, if the store is organized by color, you can flock to the colors you’re most likely to wear. If you never plan on wearing chartreuse green (and I don’t blame you), you can skip over that section!
  4. Location, location, location.
    I haven’t actually tested this one out, but I’m going to go ahead and say location matters. The closer you are to a bigger city, it seems the more selection you’ll have. I live in a decently-sized college town, so that means there’s a good amount of clothes I’d actually wear since the population skews younger. If you happen to live in a location like this, take advantage of it. A few weeks ago I found several barely-worn Banana Republic tops for $6 a pop!
  5. Early bird gets the worm.
    You’re more likely to find good clothes earlier in the day as opposed to right before the store closes. They don’t usually do their stocking at the end of the night!
  6. Go on the weekend.
    Just like you’re more likely to find good stuff earlier in the day, you’ll also increase your luck by choosing to go on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. These places know the weekends are when people are out and about, and they definitely plan for it!
  7. Look through everything.
    And by everything, I mean everything. You never know if the shirt of your dreams is tucked between two ugly Christmas sweaters. Spend time looking through all items on the rack. They rarely have two of the same item, so don’t miss out on anything!
  8. See through the flaws.
    Sometimes you’ll come across a piece of clothing you adore, but you notice it has some flaws. Maybe there’s a small stain or a frayed edge. If it’s an easy fix, go for it! If you’re a creative type and think a little DIY love could turn it around, throw it in your cart! These are obviously used clothes so they won’t always be perfect. If you see the potential, you can turn an otherwise overlooked piece of clothing into something completely your own.
  9. Make sure you really want it.
    Most thrift stores don’t offer returns, exchanges, or store credit so make sure the items you choose are things you’ll actually wear. Just because it’s a bargain doesn’t necessarily mean you need it!
  10. Bring a shopping buddy.
    Let’s face it: two sets of eyes is better than one. Having someone with to tell you HELL NO when you hold up something truly heinous isn’t such a bad idea. They can also help you look for any damages to the garment, find something you accidentally skipped over, and just make the experience a lot more fun overall. There are some pretty laughable items in thrift stores!

These are just a few tips you can follow next time you head out to go thrifting. Happy shopping!

Are you an expert thrift shopper? Do you have any tips not listed here? Let me know in the comments!

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