Three years ago I had never set foot in a thrift store (ugh, that’s so embarrassing to type out), and now if I go more than a week without visiting one I start to get an itch like some crazed addict. Do addicts itch? I may have just made that up. Either way, I’m one second-hand frame away from entering myself into thrifter’s anonymous. And look, it’s not the worst addiction to have.
It’s such an affordable way to find the most unique pieces. Sometimes so cheap that I laugh when my mom insists the price is wrong and that I should go ask the store clerk if it’s marked incorrectly. And how cool is it to shop while also helping the environment and your local communities? Don’t get me started on how exciting the thrill of the hunt alone is. And every time I hop on Instagram stories these days to brag about that beautiful art piece that I got for only $7 with an annoying grin on my face, I get a ton of “Ugh you have the best thrift stores!” Ok ya, but also, are you sure you’re doing right?
Here’s what I’ve found over the years:
- Thrift often
If you haven’t had much success thrifting, you’re likely not going enough. Sometimes you score big, and sometimes you leave the store empty handed and go home and cry yourself to sleep in the fetal position. Sometimes their inventory changes daily, and sometimes multiple times a day. I went to Goodwill weekly for months and months looking for a coffee table and finally landed this one for $29.
And not only are you more likely to find treasures if you go regularly, but you’ll also find that you’re more comfortable navigating the store. And once you master that, oh baby, your eye will start to pick up on more goodies. Thrifting is a skill that you strengthen with time.
2. Timing is everything
I personally like to go during the week because the weekends can get crowded and all the good stuff may be gone. I realize that may not be realistic for some, so if you do go on the weekends, try to go first thing in the morning. I’ve also found that a lot of my favorite places get new inventory during the week, so be sure to get their schedule. And while you’re at it, find out if and when they have sales. My favorite thrift store has quarterly sales and I swear it’s like Christmas four times a year.
3. Put your back into it
You’re not in Kansas anymore honey. This isn’t a Target where everything is organized for passive shopping. Some of the best things I’ve found were under a box of rubble that someone else was too lazy to go through. Make sure you move things. Look inside boxes, move larger frames to see what’s behind them, and don’t forget to look up and down.
4. Get creative
Don’t just see things for what they are. Maybe it’s a piece of furniture that would look amazing painted with different hardware, or maybe it’s a lamp that would come alive with a new lamp shade. Perhaps it’s some crap can on sale for 99 cents but would look so cute as a crayon holder. And don’t get me started on the landmine of possibilities with frames and art. My favorite place to get frames are thrift stores. You have to learn to ignore what is sometimes the most hideous piece of art you’ve seen in your entire life, but appreciate the beauty of the frame. Or vice versa with a beautiful art piece trapped in a terrible frame. Pretty things are out there if you use your imagination.
5. Bring a shopping partner
Whenever my mom comes with me, she always spots things I don’t. It’s like having an extra set of eyes. And if you know me personally, having an extra “set of eyes” is always needed. Pun not intended. (that was an inside joke for my OG followers) But in all seriousness, it can be so helpful. And added bonus, they will also have a different perspective on #4 above.
Ok maybe not at places like Goodwill, but I learned pretty late that you’d be surprised at the deals you can get. Just this weekend I saw an art piece at a thrift store for $75 and asked if he’d take $50. He immediately said yes without hesitation. I’ve also learned that if you eye something that isn’t for sale but you love it? Always offer a number, you may be surprised at the response you get.
As a fairly newbie thrifter, I’m sure there’s more tips. Drop them in the comments below if you have anything to add.
Feedback? Comment below, or email me: (Deema Tabbara Lopez) at firstname.lastname@example.org