Lately, I’ve been sharing my thrifted finds on Instagram and a question I get pretty frequently is “how do you find great deals thrifting?” I’ll admit, when it comes to thrifting, there is definitely a decent amount of luck involved, so to help increase your odds I’m sharing six tips to find great deals thrifting.
But first, maybe I should share a bit about my journey with thrifting. You see, I haven’t always been a fan of thrift stores. In fact, the only time you’d catch me in a Goodwill is if I was on the hunt for an ugly Christmas sweater or outdated, cheap clothes for a school project.
I didn’t discover my love for thrifting until my junior year of college when Stewart and I moved in together. We had rented this two-bedroom townhouse and all the furniture we owned between the two of us was a couch, a tv stand, and a bed. I should also mention that our families gave us some pieces, but it was lacking the smaller, more frivolous items that really make a home cozy and not just a college crash pad.
Since we were both in college, our budget for home decor was near to non-existent, but I wanted our first home together to really feel like a home and be special, so I started thrifting. After decorating our entire living room with items I had found at Goodwill and Peddler’s Mall, I was hooked. I knew then that thrifting would always be a part of my life.
Six Tips to Find Great Deals Thrifting
1. Go to thrift stores frequently.
Thrifting, in some ways, is like playing the lottery. Thrift stores and even antique malls are always adding new inventory, so the more you go, the better your chances are to find a great deal. Going frequently will also make you more familiar with the days they run promotions, which brings me to my next point.
2. Find out when they run promotions.
Most thrift stores run promotions on a regular basis. Going frequently will help make you more familiar with their schedule, but some thrift stores also have handouts with specific dates listed. If there isn’t a printed list, it never hurts to ask. I also suggest finding your local thrift stores on social media. They’ll usually post reminders about special promotions.
3. Visit various thrift stores.
Although thrift stores are always receiving donations, if I go to the same one a couple of times within the same week, I find that I’m looking at a lot of the same items. When you’re out and about, maybe in an area you’re not as familiar with, I suggest searching “thrift stores” in maps. Not only will this help you find thrift stores you may not have known about before, but it also gives you a new selection of items to browse.
4. Look high and low.
I’m barely 5ft. tall and I have a bad habit of only looking at items that are at eye level, but if I look back at all the things I’ve found at thrift stores, many of them have either been on the top or bottom shelf. If I had to guess, I’d say the bottom shelf is probably the most overlooked, so if you want to find deals that the casual thrifter is overlooking, check there. I also recommend browsing the whole store, even if you’re only looking for home items. I once found an entire bolt of fabric in the tools section. Random, right?
5. Negotiate when possible.
When it comes to thrift stores, there are two scenarios that I think negotiating is appropriate. The first is if a piece of furniture has been there for a while. Because thrift stores are always getting loads of donations and most have a limited amount of space, especially for bigger items like furniture, they may be willing to come down a few dollars. The second is if an item you pick up doesn’t have a price on it. In this case, I recommend having a price in mind before you checkout. When you get to the register, tell them there isn’t a price, and then if they look to you for a suggestion, tell them your price. Usually, they’ll agree.
6. Set a budget for yourself.
I saved the most important for last! I think the biggest reason I’ve been able to find great deals thrifting is because I started thrifting on an extremely limited budget. This forced me to search for the better deals and overlook higher priced items. Setting a budget for myself also showed me that low prices do exist. For example, when I first began thrifting, I was drawn to brass cricket boxes. I’d find them at Goodwill for $2 and even $1 some times. Now, when I run across one at a thrift store or an antique mall and it’s priced at $5 or more, I think that’s too high and I leave it behind. Is it really too high, probably not, but when you know there are some out there for cheaper, it’s not an easily justified purchase.
If you enjoyed this thrifting post, check out this one about not accumulating unnecessary junk while thrifting.