Recently a friend who owns a consignment store asked me for some thrifting tips for an article she was writing for a local paper.  I misunderstood that the article needed to be in right away so when I sent her my thoughts, it was a day late!  So the paper’s loss is your gain. 

Here are some of my tried and true thrifting tips!

• Don’t be afraid of the seedy! Most of the best thrift stores are in the less than ideal parts of town.

• Thrift stores are dirty and you will have to dig, but isn’t a bargain worth digging for?

• Make nice with the owner/manager! Tell them what you are looking for and they may know where it is or will keep an eye out for you.

• Lots of thrift stores need bags for the customer’s purchases. Your home is likely filled with them, both paper and plastic, so make nice and curry some favor by bringing them some!

• If there is a quantity of an item, but they are priced individually, ask if they can give you a price if you take all of them. Be prepared to take them (or not) depending on the price.

• If you ask for a better price on an item (not all do this) be prepared to pay it. The owners get really peeved if you ask continually and never buy when they give you the lower price!

• Most thrift stores have a discount schedule (colored dots/tags, sections that are over stocked with items, etc). This is usually posted or announced when you arrive, so look for it or ask. It may make the difference in buying it or leaving it there.

• Check your items carefully! Most have a no return policy.

• Think of other uses for your purchases. The shirt with a spot, can be fabric for a bag. That wool sweater can be felted. The shirt missing buttons can have a new funkier set added. No item is a lost cause unless it is disgusting! That single earring can become a pendant on a necklace or the center for a brooch.

• Pick up Style Weekly! Every so often they advertise new shops in it.

Craig’s List is another good place to check for shops. They usually post it in the yard/garage sale section.

• Stop in often! They get new merchandise EVERY DAY and ALL DAY! It is not the same store 20 minutes after you leave.

• Google search “thrift shops” and “your town”. You may find ones that you never knew of.

• Ask a fellow thrift shopper if they found any new or cool shops.

• If your gut tells you that the item is worth something, LISTEN! As you develop and fine tune your thrifting skills you will get better. You can also go home and Google it. Sometimes I buy items at the Goodwill and then take it home to research it. They have a return policy for store credit only, so I am not at a loss if I take it back.

• Tell your thrifting buddies what you are looking for. They can help you look for that illusive item.

• If you drive by and see a sign take a few minutes to check it out. It might just be awesome!

Some shops you may want to check out:

• Thrift for Life (formerly Massey Cancer Center Thrift Store)

• Goodwill Outlet (be ready to dig and pay by the pound)

• Love of Jesus

• Good Samaritan (take a friend with you)

• Diversity Thrift

• Susan’s Selections (especially when they have an estate or warehouse sale)