How to Score BIG at Thrift Stores

I’m often asked by friends how I always find good things at thrift stores. Walking into any thrift store can be overwhelming since there’s always so much stuff! Below are my ten thrift shopping tips for a successful shopping trip. With these tips you’ll be sure to learn how to score big at thrift stores.


1. Go in with a positive attitude!

One of my friends went thrift shopping at one of my favorite outlet thrift centers and only found two things which was shocking to me as I usually find at least 10 to 15 items each time. Well, after some pressing I found out that she went in with the attitude that she hates thrift shopping and she wouldn’t find anything. It seems that her mindset reflected her finds.

It sounds silly but say to yourself before you go in that you’re going to have a good shopping trip and that thrift stores are filled with hidden gems. Also, it’s never a good idea to do any kind of shopping if you’re hungry, tired, thirsty, or otherwise irritable. Attitude is everything.

2. Have a goal in mind but try not to be super specific

Or you’re going to get overwhelmed. For instance, if you go in looking for a red cardigan and strappy wedges you may not that find those items but if you go in looking for work clothes or great serving ware for your next party you will have more options.

3. Be open to finding anything

Most thrift stores have an inventory that changes on a daily basis so you never know what you’ll find. You may find great clothes one day or a set of gorgeous wine glasses the next. Sometimes I find an amazing toy for my kids or a designer outfit for myself. Sometimes I just find a few kids books. I try to stay open to finding things that are a good deal and useful for my family.

4. Check out the online reviews

Yelp, Google, and Facebook often have helpful reviews and tips that can help you determine if a certain thrift store is worth making a trip for.  For instance, if I hadn’t read a review on Yelp about one particular thrift store, I would have walked right out since their boutique section is what is displayed first. Because I read a review that there were other items towards the back of the store with good prices, I was able to find some great deals. If you’re in the Houston area, please check out my thrift store reviews here.

5. Pick your shopping outfit carefully

Wear tight fitting clothing such as exercise clothing or leggings so you can easily try things on. You can then step into shorts or skirts or throw that cute cardigan or jacket on over your clothes. Most thrift stores do have dressing rooms but a few don’t and if you go during peak times it might easier than standing around waiting for a dressing room to open.

6. Don’t let the exterior of a thrift shop fool you

Because it’s what’s on the inside that really matters, right? I once found an authentic and almost new Rebecca Minkoff wallet in a dusty thrift outlet.

7. Slow down

If you shop too fast you will miss good finds or have shopper’s regret! I usually never have a good thrifting trip when I don’t have a lot of time. It is very time consuming to dig through everything.

8. Promotions, discounts, and coupons

I’ve seen all kinds of discounts at thrift stores including but not limited to: teacher, student, military, and senior citizens. Most thrift stores also run promotions and some even have coupons as well as rewards programs. I always ask store employees what the specials are for the day.

9. Don’t be afraid to leave without buying anything

Sometimes you just don’t see anything. Remember, inventory usually changes daily for these stores and sometimes you just don’t find anything worth buying. If you consistently aren’t able to find anything, change the thrift stores you’re frequenting, try another area of town, or consider checking out some online thrift stores.

10. Go after a long weekend or after holidays

People often use this time to clean their closets and garages out and you will see a lot of good items come in. You will also see an influx of items after the holidays because people need to make room for new gifts they received or they often donate unwanted ones.

If you liked this post on how to score big at thrift stores, be sure to check out my other thrifting tips and Houston thrift shop reviews!

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