by Nicholas Pendergast
When you enter into a thrift store, you never really know what you’re going to get. The upside is that you know you’ll find some really cheap prices, but the downside is that you’re going to a store that has a variety of clutter and most of it has no relevance to your needs or wants.
So how do you minimize your chances of going to a thrift store with no goodies to take off with?
It’s all about tracking down the right store for you. One of the popular secrets to tracking down great thrift stores is going to a location that is in a high-end neighborhood. It stands to reason that a community with wealthier residents will have better thrift options than a location in the poorer parts of town. If you’re not familiar with all of the neighborhoods in your area, you can look up the property value of a neighborhood to get a good indication. Zillow is a great tool to start with to do this. If you do not have an exact address to track down, you can use a general location and zip code to pull up a big range of property values within a local radius. Locations with higher property value have wealthier people, and wealthier people are letting go of nicer things, so go to a thrift in a high-value area!
Websites like thethriftshoppper.com and thriftstorelistings.com are also worth checking out when you’re on the hunt for a good thrift shop. Don’t give up looking if you have not found what you’re looking for at one or two shops.
Another tip that I like to use often is browsing the Internet while thrift shopping using my smartphone. There are several items out there that are listed higher or cheaper than they typically go for. eBay is typically a great way to gauge the retail value of some items, but there are also other lists out there that are more specialized toward particular items of interest, like vintage electronics and trinkets.
Don’t forget that thrift stores have big sale days, too, and many of them can save you big in the long run. Ask around for when these days are, and you may find yourself with a chance to walk off with a dozen items without spending more than $20.
If you plan on spending a lot of time thrifting, you may want to bring a tote bag to help carry your items. It’s unusual that a thrift store would tell you that you can not, but if they do then check to see that they have a cart or basket available to carry things in.
In some cases, you can start your own little business with the goodies that are found in thrift shops. Retro video games, records, old toys in good condition, and vintage clothing items typically get some good money in the etsy and eBay markets. Thrift shops usually do a general price on items of that nature, and you could easily pick up an item for $6 at your local thrift, then sell it for $25 or more on an online marketplace. It’s one of the few strategies that actually boomed after the crash in 2007, and it still works today.
Try to find out the shipment schedules of all the thrift shops you go to. Most employees will know when shipments come in, so ask one while browsing or once you hit the cash register. Once you find out the shipments of your local thrift shops, you can create a schedule around those times to optimize your thrift opportunities.
Flea markets are also excellent places to find hand me downs, however, since flea markets draw hundreds of people you want to get in on the action as soon as possible. Arrive at your local flea market as soon as it opens. Vendors are eager to start their day off with good sales, so you will have a better opportunity to haggle with them if the chance comes up, too.
Now that you’ve indoctrinated yourself in the finer points of thrift store shopping, go on out there and get your thrift on with these smart tips! After you get some thrifting in, come on back to our Facebook page to tell us how your thrifting has improved since using our guide.