For most of my adult life, I have loved the Thrift Shop. About ten years ago I hung up my thrift shop ways because I was running out of storage space. At the time my focus was mainly hunting for vintage clothing and furniture to resell. The problem was I found it impossible to part with my finds! Also, since these items became more and more rare to find I was no longer enjoying the hunt, so I hung up my thrifter’s vest.
Fast forward to present day, and I once again have the Thrifting desire! What’s different this time is I’m thrifting or garage sale hunting with a different purpose. I’m no longer looking for items to resell; now it’s all just for my own needs or sometimes I’m thrifting for the pure joy of the hunt. If I have a specific item in mind I’ll toss on my vest and head out for a treasure hunt.
The Urban Kittens Hierarchy of Shopping
- Garage Sales
- Thrift Shops
- Local Discount Stores
- Online Shopping Sites
- Full Price Retail Stores (last resort)
My shopping strategy starts with local garage sales since this is where I can usually find the best price on gently used items, next up are the Thrift shops. If I can’t find what I need at a garage sale or thrift shop, I’ll search online and hunt the local discount stores. If I find what I’m looking for locally, at a price near the best online price, all other things equal I’ll choose to make my purchase from a local retailer first.
When I’m unable to purchase what I need using the above tactics, then I’ll look at full price retail stores as a last resort.
I prefer used items of high quality over new anytime. Buying gently used isn’t just about saving money it’s also about protecting natural resources and limiting what is put into landfills.
Research Before Buying
- Research websites, blogs, and magazines to find out as much information about the product you’re looking for.
- How much would the item cost if purchased new?
- Has this model or item been recalled?
- Is it still being manufactured or was it discontinued?
- How much are you willing to pay?
- Is it authentic or a knock-off?
Some things are better when used, think of an overstuffed leather chair with a beautiful worn patina. Realize that used items, such as vintage furnishing may cost much more than there new counterparts.
Find a Thrift Shop on Vacation
While traveling I try to fit in a couple of hours to visit one or two thrift stores when I travel. I’ve found incredible deals in the bowels of dusty old shops. Do your research on the area and look for reviews from other shoppers.
Many years ago I bought three lamps and a Formica kitchen table while vacationing in Omaha; I was able to disassemble the table and check it as luggage on the plane! Ah, the good ole days! I would not even attempt to try that now. If you think you might buy a large item have a plan in place on how to get it home.
Thrift Shop Tools and Rules
You should assume that anything you buy at a thrift shop is a final sale. Take fabric or paint swatches, measurements and a measuring tape.
- Heep a list of what you are hoping to find
- Be really picky and only buy what you love
- Only buy what you can afford
- Shop with cash
- Don’t expect a “find” every time you shop
How to Dress for a Visit to the Thrift Shop
I like to wear yoga pants and a simple top and lightweight sneakers. When I’m heading out to an outdoor antique fair, I’ll wear a t-shirt and throw on my L.L. Bean fisherman’s vest which has pockets and zippers galore; this leaves my hand free for rummaging. My cash is safely tucked into an inside zippered pocket.
Every August 17th is Annual Thrift Shop Day!
Celebrate Thrift Shop day by visiting the local thrift shops and go on a little treasure hunt. I have no idea who started this but what an excellent idea to support your local thrift shop.