With the help of modern technology, many thrift stores now have a system in place where they can send text alerts. Obviously, you would have to sign up for their loyalty program, and give them your personal information. By signing up, they usually give you a one-time discount for your purchase. Then, you will get alerts on your phone every time there is a sale.
You might not want to take advantage of every sale that comes through on your phone. However, this is a great way to get notified of a sale that you might have otherwise missed. This tip is also applicable to pretty much any store, not just the thrift shop. Clothing stores like Lucky Brand, American Eagle, and more all have text alerts to notify customers of their upcoming sales.
Sometimes, you can find a really great deal at a thrift shop if you find something that has been misunderstood. What I mean by that is that the person putting out the items and creating the prices has no idea what that thing is. So they might put something more valuable into the wrong section of the thrift store. When a mistake has been made, you might be able to get something at a huge discount simply because the employee was misinformed about what it was.
This has happened to me on multiple occasions, mostly when I was looking for older antiques. It tends to happen more often in my local college town where Goodwill employees are students just looking for a part-time gig. Obviously, older people and private shop owners are more likely to have the experience to know how to price something correctly, and you’re not going to get as good of a discount.
The great rule of thumb for almost anywhere you go is to become friends with the cashier. Remember that when you work in the retail or service industry, you run into a lot of mean customers. So people really appreciate when a friendly customer comes through the door. They will be glad to see you knowing that their job is just a little bit easier for a few minutes. After a while, you might even consider them to be your friend. You may never get drinks with this person or hang out outside of the building, but there’s still someone that you can have a friendly conversation with for five to ten minutes.
When you become friends with an employee, they are more likely to give you their own personal tips on how you can save money. They might even put things aside for you so that you can buy it when you want. This would happen to me a lot when I work full-time as a reseller. If my friends working at the stores knew that I was going to come in at least once a week, they would hold things behind the counter for me so that I could personally be the one to buy it.
A great money saving tip for finding clothes is to quickly check all of the sections of the store. It doesn’t matter if you normally shop in the women’s section. Take a quick look in the men’s or even the children’s section. You just might find some piece of clothing that was put out of place by a customer. Or, you could find something that is your style, even if it belongs to the other gender. Another thing is that you could pass on the information to other people in your life.
My local Salvation Army has an amazing men’s section with high-end clothing that barely gets touched. This is because most of the customers who walk through the door are women. So it makes sense that the women’s section is more picked over with fewer things available. Because of this, I have taken all of my brothers and my father to that particular store so that they can look for the clothes. Even though I rarely find things for myself and that store, I know that it’s an amazing place for all the men in my life to go. Just because you personally can save a lot of money doesn’t mean that someone else in your life can’t benefit.
10. Find Out Where Local Businesses Donate Their Leftovers
Many large businesses will donate their leftover inventory to a thrift store because they can use it as a tax write-off towards a charitable donation. For example, my local Target donate their clearance items to Goodwill. And my local privately owned thrift shop gets a weekly delivery of brand new Tempur-Pedic mattresses. Because of this, it’s possible to get brand new name brand items at a fraction of what you would have paid for them otherwise.
Keep in mind that many of these leftover items have already gone through the process of being lowered down to 90% off at Target before they end up in the thrift shop. So you’re going to find a lot of ugly designs, or clothing that is size 00 or XXS. However, one of the best scores you can find is holiday items after Christmas or Halloween.
As strange as this may sound, you really need to bring your mom to the thrift shop. And it’s not just because moms love bargains. (It’s also not for her senior discount.) Your mom is most likely going to spot brands and objects that you would have never known about before. My own mom has taught me a lot about various ceramic brands, because she really loves fine china and glassware. I know way more than the average 30 year old about this information, just because I listened to my mom.
Your own mother might be really into fashion, vinyl records, or something else that they sell in the thrift store. Learning knowledge from an older generation is how you find some amazing hidden treasures. Even if she’s not super materialistic in any way, your mom will have a lot of fun shopping with you, guaranteed.
The best thrift shopping hack ever is to shop in a rich town. People with money obviously have better stuff. And they’re usually more willing to donate their things when they get tired of it. Personally, I love to go shopping in the rich Philadelphia neighborhoods, because I find designer clothing and shoes on the regular. Large cities like New York and Los Angeles also have amazing things and their thrift stores. On the flip side, if you go to a poor city, you’re not going to find anything worth writing home about. Some of the worst locations I have ever visited were Atlantic City and Knoxville, Tennessee, because the stores were in low-income communities.
For some of you, it might seem like a paradox. Aren’t thrift stores supposed to help poor people? Yes and no. The overarching organizations want to raise money for their respective charities. So it actually makes the most sense to keep the money flowing in affluent areas. Some organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army move items around the state to make sure every location gets inventory. But the smaller independently owned thrift stores don’t have the money or man power to do that. So they can only source from local donations.
7. Be Careful Not to Overpay For Items at the Thrift Shop You Can Get Cheaper Somewhere Else
One of the most common mistakes that I see people make when they buy things from a thrift store is that they assume that they are getting the cheapest price possible. In reality, the prices of the objects being put on the shelves are being made up by the employees. Sometimes a manager will intervene, but most of the time it’s a guessing game. There have been multiple occasions where I walked into a thrift store and saw an object selling for more than what it was actually worth. Even Dollar Tree items had been marked up to $2 to $3, and people bought them anyway.
I’ll never forget the time when I went to the Goodwill Outlet and a woman was filling her cart with plastic clothing hangers. She was excited, and said that she couldn’t believe that no one else was going after these hangers, too. In her mind, she found a goldmine, since everything was $1 per pound. When I told her that she could buy 5 plastic hangers for $1 at the Dollar Tree, her face dropped. She realized that she had made a mistake, but she went ahead and bought them anyway. In reality, she overpaid for something used she could get brand new somewhere else.
One of the best ways to save money at a thrift stop is to take advantage of the good deals when you see them. The moments I regret the most about thrift shopping are when I did not jump on the opportunity to buy something. Even though my gut was telling me that it was a good deal, I hesitated and thought that I might come back later. Every single time, that thing was gone by the time I came back the next day.
Sometimes, it’s good to listen to your intuition and follow through with buying something. (Unless you have a problem with shopping addiction or hoarding.) Unlike regular stores, most items in thrift stores only have one thing in stock, and then they’re gone forever. If you regret your purchase, you can always return it or sell it online later. Most items you find at a thrift shop are under $10 anyway, and it’s not going to make or break you financially.
Here in the United States, most of our thrift stores are not outwardly associated with a charity. And even if they are, most people don’t know what the cause is. Most of the shops actually do put money towards a charity, even if people don’t realize what it is. For example, Goodwill puts their money towards employing people with special needs and disabilities. And most people don’t realize that The Salvation Army is actually a religious organization. But in the more affluent areas, we do have hospital charity shops or the Jewish Women’s League. From my personal experience, the American version of charity shops tend to have better stuff, and better prices. These charity shops are staffed by volunteers who are more interested in raising money for charity than making profits for the store.
In the UK and most parts of Europe, they have charity shops instead of thrift stores. Depending on the cause they are raising money for, they might have better donations coming through. According to a study, the British Heart Foundation was the most popular charity shop in the UK with Oxfam and Cancer Research UK coming next in line. When you look at the list of charity shops in the UK, it’s clear to see that people want to donate to heart disease research the most. This is likely because they had someone in their family who was affected by it. So if you have more people donating and shopping there, it’s likely to have the best stuff available.
Believe it or not, thrift stores frequently give things away for free. This happens for a few reasons. There might be an item that is borderline unsellable, but they don’t want to throw it away. Or, it could be something that has been sitting in the store for so long, it’s taking up too much space. Another reason could be that the store received an abundance of cheap items that they’re never going to get rid of.
These free items might be at the front desk, or they could be at the front of the store on a nice day. Ask the manager of the store if they ever give out free items, and how you could go about getting them. My local thrift shop frequently tries to give away furniture for free. Like I said, these pieces often have some kind of defect, and will need a bit of TLC before they are usable. But this is still a great deal for someone on a tight budget. Also check out the Craigslist free section.
3. Go to Different Thrift Stores and Antique Shops
Sometimes, the best advice for saving money at the thrift stop is simply go to a different location. The prices are usually dictated by the owner or the manager of the store. This can be drastically different depending on where you go. For example, at my local Goodwill, men’s neckties were $1 each no matter what brands or condition they were in. But I traveled to a different Goodwill location, and they wanted as much as $12 per necktie. The price difference was absolutely ridiculous.
It turns out that at some stores, the manager will go on eBay to see how much that item was selling for online and price it that way. Obviously, this is not a great deal for you as a customer. They are going to make you pay near-retail price of these things that should be cheaper, since you’re at a thrift store. So if you go to a store where the manager has literally printed out an eBay listing to show people how much something costs, don’t bother. You’re likely not going to get a good deal. Simply visit a different thrift shop or antique store.
Whenever you go to a thrift store, flea market, or yard sale, it’s always a good idea for you to bring a friend. There is so much inventory packed into a small space, it can be difficult to spot everything. It’s kind of like looking at one of those I Spy books. Most people are not taking the time to look through every single object on a shelf. For one thing, they don’t want to take up the space for too long, because it means that you aren’t giving other customers a chance.
So if you have a friend with you, they are the second set of eyes to help you look for those amazing deals. Before you go inside of a thrift store, make a game plan. Communicate on the items that you are looking for. If one person finds what the other person is looking for, all the better. Teamwork makes the dream work. Hopefully your friend isn’t competing with you on the same items, though. In most cases, you should be able to find someone to shop with who won’t take your deals away from you.
1. Visit Your Local Thrift Shop as Often as Possible
Last but not least, you are more likely to find a good deal at your thrift store if you are shopping there often. If you only go to a thrift shop once a month on the weekend, it’s likely that you’re not going to find a good deal at all. In fact, a lot of the best deals happen in the middle of the work week or in the morning hours when most people are busy. Take some time to ask the employees when the slowest or the best time is for you to come in.
Now that more people are working from home, it may be possible for you to have flexible hours during your work day. Many bosses don’t care when you get the work done, as long as it’s finished by the deadline. So if it’s possible for you to go to a thrift shop on your lunch break, you should seriously consider it. For a lot of people, this seems like too much of a hassle to do. However, the people who make the effort are the ones finding the best discounts.