Hey lovelies! For today’s post, I thought I’d continue on the theme of second-hand shopping I introduced last week (when I shared some of my favorite thrift and consignment stores in NYC).
I started thrifting about 4 years ago and have found some amazing, one-of-a-kind pieces during my hauls (here and here are some of my great finds)! I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard thrifter by any means though. I probably thrift, vintage or consignment shop about 6-8 times out of the year. But when I do go, I make sure to have a strategy so I can make the most of my shopping expeditions.
Here are 11 thrift store shopping tips to help you not only score some amazing pieces, but make the shopping process one of ease and enjoyment as well.
Patience is key – Shopping for second-hand treasures is not for the faint of heart. Doing it properly takes time and resilience. Yes, you will flip through 50 items or more that you hate for every one that will make it into your cart, but it will all be worth it when you find that gem (like this). Put on your big girl panties, turn on a good shopping playlist and be prepared to spend an hour or more in the store!
Location, location, location – This tip is more for people in spread out cities like L.A. than in compact ones like NYC, but it can apply no matter where you are. I personally have had the most success at thrift stores in artsy, trendy or more upscale parts of the city. They just have better selections in my opinion.
Come with a plan – This is a common tip of thrifting greats, but it deserves mention. Coming to a thrift store without having any idea what you’re looking for is a recipe for disaster. The sheer volume of individual items that you have to sift through WILL stress you out. You don’t have to be extra specific about what you’re looking for, but something like ‘I’m looking for earth-toned tops’ or ‘I need a new blazer’ will help you out immensely when it comes to making your way through the store.
Check for sales – Yup, thrift stores have sales, too! And some pretty fantastic ones at that. Check the signs near the register or ask one of the store team members what the item of the week is. You could score up to 50% off already low prices.
Know your shopping ‘type’ – All thrift stores are not created equal and all consignment stores may not be for you. Know what kind of shopping experience you want before you select your thrift or consignment store, in order to create the best shopping experience. For example, if digging for treasure is your thing, a large thrift store will likely appeal to you. If it doesn’t, pick a smaller shop or a consignment store that’s easier to manage and navigate. I’m a firm believer there’s a second-hand shop out there for everyone, no matter your preferences.
Dress the part – You’re going to want your hands as free as possible for all the sifting through racks you’ll be doing, so carry a light cross-body bag that will stay out of your way while you shop. I also recommend wearing clothes that are comfy and that you can slip things over if needed. For example, I like to wear a pair of leggings, a tank top and a loose button-up shirt over.
Envision the outcome – Most items in thrift stores don’t have the best hanger appeal. You need to have an imagination when you thrift and consigment store shop. If you don’t you’ll easily pass up some amazing pieces. When I see a piece that looks interesting enough to pick up, my mind immediately goes to how I would style it with other pieces already in my wardrobe. That process will usually indicate whether the piece is a keeper or not.
Have a budget – Those $5-$10 dollar items will add up over the course of your shopping trip, so come with a budget and stick to it.
Inspect items thoroughly – Check for things like stains, tears/holes or loose threads. While this is not as big of an issue in consignment stores since they hand-pick the pieces they sell, a thrift store is a free-for-all that typically has little quality control.
Wipe it down – Despite what some may think, not all thrift stores are dirty or carry old garage-ridden items. The ones I frequent are actually quite clean. But I still like to bring a little bottle of hand sanitizer or some baby wipes to clean my hands with once I check out.
Clean items immediately – Always clean your thrifted or consigned items prior to wearing them. My rule of thumb is that they go right from the shopping bag to the washroom or cleaners when I get home (cause I really don’t know where these things came from). Looking Fly On A Dime has great recommendations on the the proper way to clean your thrifted finds here.
Those are my top tips for thrift store shopping success. Have any of your own? I want to hear. Share them in the comments section below.
Happy shopping ladies!