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10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores

March 8th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thrift stores are a great resource for the frugal shopper, the environmentally friendly shopper, or anyone looking to find a good deal. You can find everything from clothes and old record albums to furniture in a thrift store. Many thrift stores support a nonprofit organization, so you can be confident that the money you are spending is helping someone.

Shop Often

Shopping frequently is a very important part of thrift store shopping. Since new items arrive daily, you have to shop often to find the best products for the best deals. You may want to ask the store if they restock on a certain day or a certain time of day, and plan your trips around that information.

Be Friendly

Some thrift stores may not have paid employees; they may just be volunteers. Being nice to the employees--whether they are paid or volunteers--may help you get more discounts, coupons, or exclusive information on upcoming sales. Remember this is someplace you plan on visiting a lot; you don't want to be remembered as the rude customer.

Keep Your Eyes Open

When you are shopping in thrift stores, you have to keep your eyes open at all times. You never know when you will see a great deal. Don't be afraid to dig, a treasure may be buried under something or at the back of a rack.

Test Electronics

It is not possible for a thrift store to make sure that every item on the shelves is in working order. Most of the items are donated and it is assumed that they are in working condition. Before you buy any electronic items, you should test them to make sure they work correctly.

Make a List

Before you go thrift store shopping you should make a list of things you would like to find. This list should include sizes, colors, and any other item specifics you are looking for. Having a list will help keep you on track once you begin shopping. Use this list until you have found everything you were looking for.

Try It On

Many thrift stores do not provide dressing rooms, which can cause problems. You should always try clothes on before buying them. If you plan on going shopping at thrift stores, take your measurements before you leave the house. Take the measurements and the measuring tape with you while shopping. It is also a good idea to check the stores return policy.

Bring Cash

Many thrift stores do not accept personal checks, credit cards, or debit cards. When you are making your list of items to look for, also try to estimate the amount of money you are willing to spend. Before you go to the store to do your shopping, stop at the ATM and grab some cash.

Don't Impulse Shop

This one is pretty simple--don't buy something because it is cheap. Only buy items that you know will be used. You may like that end table but if you already have one, what will you do with it?

Be Creative

You are shopping in a thrift store so you already know how to reuse items, but can you repurpose items? Many items in a thrift store can be used for something other then what they were made for. For example, a curtain can be made into new pillows, old sheets can be made into curtains, and old shirts can be incorporated in a quilt.

Some Things to Avoid Buying

Thrift stores are a great place to shop for most items, but some things should not be bought there. Shoes, hats, and underwear should not be bought at a thrift store. You should not buy baby items like, cribs, highchairs, or swings from a thrift store either. These items may not be safe for your child.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about http://www.homeownersinsurance.org/ and related topics for www.homeownersinsurance.org.

3 Responses to “10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores”

  1. NJDebbie Says:

    So that you know, I'm the original Mrs. Frugalista here at Saving Advice. ::I'm cracking up right now:: Welcome!

  2. klbb90 Says:

    One woman put in her blog that she deliberatly bought recently recalled items for next to nothing and then turned them in for replacements. She felt she got a usable baby item and cleared the store of dangerous products. She got a stroller, carseat, and crib this way.

  3. -Jerry- Says:

    I love thrift stores. I have found a like new leather jacket, countless terrific shirts and sweatshirts, my favorite-ever pair of dress shoes, and several overcoats over the years. I'm pretty finicky, but I can usually have some insurance that I will find something that I like that they are selling at a second hand store. I won't buy electronics there, though, or of course underwear, socks, or anything like that!
    Jerry

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