The sales floor at Deseret Industries.

Blog Home
Apr 25, 2017

Thrift Store Shopping Tips and Tricks

Jordan Page
Founder of FunCheapOrFree.com and BudgetBootCamp.com

Did you know that spring is the best time of year for thrift store shopping? It’s true! With many people in spring-cleaning mode, thrift stores are filled to the brim with amazing finds.

Thrift stores can be great places to find all sorts of stuff. For example, thrift stores are one of the only places I go to buy books for my kids. There’s no need to pay full price elsewhere when you can usually find used books in amazing condition. You can also find craft projects, tote bags, backpacks, toys, and kids’ shoes.

I thought I’d share a bunch of other thrift store shopping tips and tricks, so here are a few things to keep in mind when searching the sales floor:

  • Have a plan. Make a list! If you need frames for a gallery wall in your entryway, look for frames. If your kids need shoes, go for shoes. If you could use a new dress, look through the dresses. Having a plan will help you stay focused, and it will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or buying things you don’t need.
  • Keep trying. You might not find exactly what you need the first time around. But the beauty of thrift stores is that the inventory is constantly changing! Stores can be completely different from one day to the next, so keep at it.
  • If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. If you have no place for an item in your home, it’s wasted money—even if it only costs a dollar. Stick with your plan, and don’t be tempted by the price sticker!
  • Just because it’s used doesn’t always mean the price is good. Learn your prices! I keep a price notebook handy at all times. When you learn what a good price is for something, write it down in a notebook. That way you learn what items usually cost, and you know a good price when you see one. If it’s not a good deal, don’t buy it.
  • Shop in the spring. Thrift stores are packed with merchandise in the spring due to spring-cleaning. Garage sales also begin appearing as soon as the weather perks up, so take advantage of this good time of year.
  • Out with the old. As you buy new-to-you items, get rid of items that you no longer need or use. No need to live in clutter!
  • Use the buddy system. Find someone who is savvy at thrift shopping, and go with them once or twice. It helps to learn their tricks, and sometimes a second set of eyes can help you spot the best deals.
  • Look for potential. Sure, that faded old side table seems ugly as-is. But with some new hardware and a fresh coat of paint? It looks totally different. Don’t get hung up on the minute details. Look at the bones of an item, including clothing. Could it look better when ironed? With new buttons sewn on? Freshly washed? New laces added? Whatever it is, look for potential.

Jordan Page is the founder of the popular blog FunCheapOrFree.com and the online budgeting program BudgetBootCamp.com. After getting out of credit card debt in only 13 months, Jordan loves proving that you can live a fabulous life because of frugal living, not in spite of it. Her innovative money management tips have landed her segments with a variety of news organizations, including the Today Show and Inside Edition. Aside from blogging, Jordan is an entrepreneur and busy mom to five kids under 7 years old. She lives with her kids, husband, and yellow lab in Draper, Utah.