The thrift store.
Where you do a different kind of shopping. Have you watched Macklemore's “Thrift Shop” music video?
He thinks it's “f—ing awesome” going to these places.
Is he right though? Can you really find clothes there that rival the stuff found in your local mall?
At first, a thrift store can feel like a jungle inside.
You need enough patience, preparation, and all the right hacks to avoid getting lost or overwhelmed by the whole thing…
This article breaks down 7 awesome hacks for those who want to go thrift shopping.
Thrift Store Hack #1 – Shop On The Right Days
Timing is everything, guys. While people would usually do their shopping in malls or department stores on Saturdays and Sunday– the days they're expected to have time off – thrift stores have their hands quite full during the weekend.
What happens on weekends? That's when stores receive donations from generous folks who, unsurprisingly, are using the weekend to run errands. With all this new stuff coming in, it typically takes the stores 1-2 days to process the items and have them ready for sale.
That means the latest goodies are most likely to hit the shelves of thrift stores on Mondays and Tuesdays. But that's not all you need to remember. Many stores also take advantage of holidays when everybody is out – offering as much as 50% off their items. If you live in the US, you'll want to mark your calendar for thrift shopping on the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Presidents Day, Veterans Day, and Labor Day.
Thrift Store Hack #2 – Go Early
This goes hand in hand with the first tip. If you can squeeze in some time to thrift shop before heading to work (or arrange to take the whole morning off), perfect. You'll be able to look around during the non-peak hours.
The best part about this is you can take your time browsing all sections of the store, unlike later in the day when most items get claimed and sold in a flash. And to help speed things up more, start by checking the carts and bins marked “just donated” in the stores.
Thrift Store Hack #3 – Know Exactly What You Want
If you just walk into thrift stores without a goal or plan, you'll end up wasting time unnecessarily. And really – it's also true for shopping in malls or department stores. Here's a two-step protocol worth following every time you're going to shop:
- Identify the clothing item/s you hope to buy at the thrift store.
- Dress in a way that matches the item/s you're shopping for.
The idea here is when you try on a certain item, you'll discover on the spot whether or not it works with your matching outfit, and whether or not you see yourself wearing it often. So let me now give you some examples of potential things to find at thrift stores:
- Men's sunglasses or shades: It's best to find a durable pair with heavy-duty hinges and thick lenses since the other types of secondhand sunglasses wouldn't last as long.
- Men's sweaters and jackets: Try finding a jacket or sweater with a wool blend as well as a lining that's clean and consistent. Those ones are of the best quality.
- Men's dress shoes: Are you keen on high-end shoes made of 100% leather? Thrift stores tend to have their pure leather shoes marked on the sole with the words “Vero Cuoio.” Meanwhile, lower-end shoes that have rubber soles will be marked on the sole as “leather upper.”
By the way, take note that just like at your normal retail stores, you’re more likely to get the BEST deals on clothing items when they're out of season. That means you should look ahead and try finding sweaters or jackets during the summer, and shorts or t-shirts when it's winter.
Thrift Store Hack #4 – Know Your Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are run by charities but they are also run as businesses. You will find that thrift stores located in more affluent areas may charge significantly more than those located in poorer parts of town. This is because they know their visitors are willing to spend more and have more disposable income.
It pays to look around. Go out of your way to find these stores. Take a different route home from work or check out thrift stores in towns you're visiting for work or a vacation. You'll find that prices differ greatly and you may find an even bigger bargain!
Hack #5 – Find Out When The Store Changes Colored Tags
Besides going early in the morning at the start of the week, this is another key piece of information that you should adjust your visiting days based on. Why? Because a lot of stores use colored tags to indicate items that are 50% off every week.
By knowing the exact day your thrift store changes to a certain colored tag, you can drop by on that day with the hope of finding good choices of items under that category. So ask an employee for that info or a list of days/weeks assigned to each colored tag. That list also might be located near the checkout register.
Thrift Store Hack #6 – Donate When You Shop
A little generosity goes a long way here. Are you aware that many Goodwill thrift stores actually offer a coupon for 20-25% off when you bring in clothes to donate? That's a nice added incentive to do some good.
Make it a strategy to keep your old clothing in a bag and leave it in the back of your car. That way, you'll always have something to donate whenever you drive to a thrift store. Whoever unloads or collects your donation would also be the one to hand you a coupon.
Thrift Store Hack #7 – Be Loyal
Finally, don't forget that the most loyal patrons of any store are also rewarded the most. You can follow these steps and practice to becoming a loyal customer yourself:
- Talk with the employees and befriend them from day 1. If you form a great bond with the cashier and even the manager, they may gladly set aside pieces that you might be interested in trying during your next visit.
- Follow thrift stores in your area on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This allows you to get the heads up on the latest deals or promos all the time. Also, download the Goodwill app if there's a Goodwill store near you.
- Sign up for free rewards and programs. Many thrift stores offer free “loyalty” cards or punch card-type programs in which you're eligible for discounts after a certain number of purchases. Other stores even give you exclusive access to the most valuable sales/specials.
Those are my seven hacks. Don't underestimate the advantages that'll come with using them. And for those planning to hit the thrift stores soon, I want to wish you guys an enjoyable shopping experience. Don't be turned off by cheapness. It's the quality, the fit, and the stylishness that really matter in the end!