20 Thrift Store Strategies To Save & Score The Best Finds

20 Thrift Store Strategies To Save & Score The Best Finds

Thrifting is an art, one that requires a strategy to find the best items while also saving money. Those new to thrifting can get overwhelmed pretty easily, and it’s hard not to given how much time and effort it requires—but we’re here with some easy tips that help make it a breeze.

1. Set a Budget

A classic pitfall to thrift shopping is buying everything in sight. At these prices, you can’t afford not to! But don’t stick just anything in your cart—selective purchases avoid closet clutter and an empty wallet. Have a budget set before you walk in to keep spending down.

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2. Follow Social Media

Oftentimes, a thrift store has social media pages to follow. Keep an eye on them to stay on top of restock days or deals. They may also provide intel on when specialty items arrive.

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3. Shop Everything

Newbies tend to shop for clothing and call it a day, but thrift stores are jam-packed with items from accessories to home decor. Don’t limit yourself to one section—the best finds are made in hidden corners.

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4. Wear the Right Clothes

Some thrift stores don’t have dressing rooms. While that’s normally not an issue in everyday clothing stores, thrift stores often also have no return policy. To ensure you get the right item, wear comfortable clothing you can easily slip pieces over. Generally, leggings and a tank top work best. 

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5. Conduct Quality Checks

Ideally, you’ll find a perfectly intact item that, despite being gently used, won’t come with any noticeable flaws. In reality, clothing you love can easily come with armpit stains, pilling, or snags—watch out for irreparable wear and tear.

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6. Know Your Environment

Knowing the lay of your thrift store’s land is a good way to avoid long trips. As you frequent various locations, you’ll get to know the layout better, but until then you should walk around to get a better sense of which aisles hold what.

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7. Have Your Size

You eliminate a lot of leg work if you know your size beforehand. Having it on hand helps you sift through endless rack items and can save the day should a location not have a fitting room. It also gives you a better idea of what can be altered, especially if you come with measuring tape.

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8. Be Mindful of Alterations

Speaking of alterations, they’re an important piece to thrifting. Little alterations are fine if you can do them yourself or know you’ll go to a tailor. However, don’t buy an item that needs drastic alterations. Chances are the item will sit in your house without ever getting a second life.

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9. Understand Your Style

A good sale entices anyone to spend money, but don’t grab just anything. The clothing may be affordable, but too much puts you at risk for a cluttered closet. Not to mention, you may get stuck with clothes that don’t fit—and can’t be returned. 

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10. Go to Different Stores

Don’t be afraid to shop in other locations. Even if you stay on top of sales or new items, you never know what’s lurking in another store. In fact, broadening your horizons can help you land exactly what you’re looking for. 

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11. Frequent Visits

Habitual visits give you first dibs on the latest items. You’re also first in line for sales and vintage items. Remember: if you don’t go often, you won’t find anything at all. 

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12. Mind Care Instructions

Some clothing requires dry cleaning or special care—are you truly prepared to give that jacket some TLC? If you know you won’t get around to hand-washing or hate laying clothes flat to dry, move on.  

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13. Accept the Losses

Not every trip will yield results, and that’s okay! Accept that you might not find what you want rather than buying what you don’t need.

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14. Scan Aisles

Thrift store aisles are often color-coded, which is a great way to zero in on must-haves. When you come with your size and personal style in mind, you can efficiently browse without getting caught in the weeds. 

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15. Have a Wish List

If you don’t want to spend all day thrifting, shop with a wish list. You save money and loads of time when you only thrift for one piece.

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16. Touch Fabrics

Touching fabric helps you identify better-quality items. Don’t be afraid to examine clothing as you walk through the aisles. Trust yourself to know which articles feel cheaper and which ones feel high-end. 

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17. Check the Labels

Who knows what treasures await among the racks? Get in the habit of checking labels every time you thrift because you may spot designer items more often than you think. 

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18. Do Your Research

Bring your phone with you, that way you can look up certain items to learn more about them. You can look up care tips, brand names, and which items are actually built to last.

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19. Shop Out of Season

Big-name clothing stores swap out items every season, but thrift stores don’t follow suit. You can find amazing coats in the summertime or a cute skirt in the winter. Shop off-season to find affordable items. 

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20. Don’t Bring Large Bags

Avoid bringing large shopping bags—limited space means limited purchases, which keeps both your closet and wallet happy. 

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