1. Nice area = nice thrift store
Where are the best thrift stores? Look in nicer areas of town. Common sense right? Areas with more money have nicer things.
2. Disclaimer: Goodwill
Nicer area = nicer store....not always the case. People drop off their things to Goodwill. From there, all their things go to a massive warehouse run by Goodwill. Employees go through all the donations and then disperse them to local stores. So if you drive by a Goodwill that's not in the greatest area, give it a shot. You might be surprised.
3. Another fact about Goodwill
Most people think that Goodwill will take anything. Not true. They don't accept everything. Donations go through several steps. Locals drop off donations at store. Donations go to warehouse. Employees go through product. Good product is dispersed to local stores. THEN the unaccepted items....After Goodwill goes through donations, they need to get rid of everything that didn't make the cut. Some of Goodwill's headquarters are open to the public. They have a massive room that consists of HUGE bins filled with unaccepted items. It's not very organized and quite chaotic. But here's the kicker - you pay by weight. I believe it's $0.49/lb. That's dirt cheap guys! They are practically giving stuff away.
3. Old people areas
Nice areas are great for thrifting. But even better - old people areas. There is much more turnover in those areas because people are downsizing, moving South, or passing....(sorry to be a little eerie). Older people generally have less incentive to accumulate more money because many are retired and have more than they need. This is great for thrift stores because the give away nice things that most people would try to sell. They also have nicer, cooler stuff (in my opinion). Now a days everything in our generation is mass produced to save companies money. Our retail stores offer items that lacks detail, quality, and uniqueness. Like my couch. I'm not sure when it was made but it is obviously old. They just don't make stuff with this much detail anymore. And if they do, you pay through the nose for it.
This site is awesome. I have used this site so many times. You can enter a zip code and it will give you a list of all the thrift store in your area. I have found so many of my favorite places through this. Granted, it has led me to some pretty grungy stores in not very nice areas. But that's how you learn. You try them out and find the ones you like, especially when you are just getting started.
5. Make up a routine
I have several "routes." When I had just moved into my house I was thrift shopping like CRAZY. I went probably three days a week. At only 19, I didn't have enough stuff to furnish and decorate a house. And at 19, I didn't have enough money to. I managed to decorate my ENTIRE house with thrift store items. The only new item was the large couch in my living room (which I receive because I won a bet...long story). I don't thrift nearly a much now because I am all moved in and because I accumulated WAY too much stuff that I can't work on until the 10 feet of snow outside melts (furniture that needs to be redone, etc....you should see my packed full arage!) Anyway, I had to organize my time well while I was thrifitng that much. I came up with three main routes, each consisting of about 4-6 stores just a few miles from each other. I set a window of time and hit one area all at once.
I found all my best things while I was going a few times a week. Frequency is key
Which brings me to number 7, patience. You won't find things every time. I have gone for a few hours and spent maybe $5. But the great finds make up for it. I get a rush every time I find a beautiful, one of kind piece of furniture, artwork, etc. Maybe I'm just strange...but I know many of you are too...and it's worth it!
8. Not everything you find at a thrift store is a good deal
Sometimes when we thrift we get in this mode that everything we see is a bargain. Not true. I have seen things at thrift stores for a few dollars that I could get a the dollar store, new.
9. Be able to see the potential in something
Sometimes things just need a little elbow grease. Being able to do some work yourself and sacrifice some time will save you tons of money. Like this piece pictured below.
10. Fall in love with it
When I was younger my mom always shopped at thrift stores for clothes, household items, etc. Mostly clothes. I was always irritated by it. I always wanted to go to the mall. I always teased her for it and never wanted to go with. Once I got older, I started to understand the implications of money. Then I realized I didn't have any. I tried it out on my own. You just have to find a few great things to get hooked. That's the key. Now I despise the mall and other retail stores. I can't afford anything and everything looks the same...okay there area few exceptions...I do spend a considerable amount of time at H&M, World Market, and Marshalls...but I pretty much only shop at thrift stores other than that. You have to fall in love with it and the patience and frequency will come naturally. Then you will be successful.
Check out some of my favorite finds under the thrift finds tab.
I'd love to hear if any of you have any thrifty tips!
Have a beautiful day!
Hannah & Tyler
We are a home renovation and real estate duo sharing the renovation of our mid century tri-level, along with flips and new builds. We created this blog as a resource for our readers, helping home owners, travelers and future friends to learn how to renovate efficiently, and affordably!