How to be a Successful Thrifter....or, Seven Tips for Thrift Shopping

Vintage Hand Embroidered Black Eyed Susan Linen Napkins, Set of SixI grew up thrifting, thrift shopping, pawing through someone else's cast off junk....whatever you want to call it. When I was a kid, it wasn't so awesome. Almost all my clothes were thrifted, which I didn't really mind, except when I wanted something specific. Then my mom would say, "well, we'll keep a look out for it at the thrift shops." But the problem with most styles, is they only show up in the thrift shops when they are OUT OF STYLE. I'm not faulting my mom for being frugal and showing us how to be thrifty, but I'm just saying, it wasn't cool back then to thrift for all your needs.
Fast forward to now, I thrift for EVERYTHING. Literally. Well, not food. And not gas. Although once I scored about 30 jars of brand new organic peanut butter for 25 cents each at a thrift store. And I do mainline Amazon pretty regularly. Sigh. So what are my secrets? Here's the scoop......

1. make sure you have plenty of time to really peruse. If you don't decided exactly what sections you are going to look in BEFORE you enter the store. For example, yesterday I had about 7 minutes to zip into our favorite shop. I knew I needed to look for dresses for Rumer and also napkins in the linen section. Well, I didn't find either of those, but I did find a beautiful wool rug with purple flowers for $2 (I know, right? SCORE.)

Vintage Cafe Blue, Pink, Yellow and Brown Flowing Glaze Mugs, Set of Five

2. Have a general idea in your mind what you would pay for something. For example, I never spend more than $3 on a kids shirt, pants or dress. Period. Its just my number.

3. If you are bringing the kids also, set parameters about what they can and can't do. If I know we are going to be in a thrift shop for the long haul, I let my kids read in the book section and each pick out a book to take home. Especially if books are a quarter or, at most, half-dollar, it is a good way to keep them out of my hair while I really peruse.
4. If the store has shopping carts, snag on on the way in, and if you even THINK you might want to get something, put it in the cart. Then, before you checkout, spend some time going through everything and make a final decision. In any given trip, I usually put back about 25% of what I initially put in my cart.

5. If you are going to resell something, use the 20% rule. Don't spend more than 20% of what you are going to get back for it. This percentage is more like 5-10% for me.

6. Think seasonally. One of the best ways to thrift shop is OUT OF SEASON. Why? Becasue people get rid of awesome things during the off season when they think they will never use them again. A few of the items I have gotten thrifting during the off season: sweaters, snow pants, rain boots, swim suits, and camping gear.
Authentic Vintage 1950's Brown Wool College Girl Skirt, Size 13/147. Bring hand sanitizer (I always feel dirty after a couple hours of thrifting.

8. Wear a cross-body purse. I couldn't live without my LeSportsac. Really.  I don't like to have to think about my purse when I am thrifting. The LeSportsac is a crossbody type purse and this helps me to keep my wallet safe, and also have all the things I need with me when I'm shopping.

And thats all I have! Do you have any great thrifting tips?

Fellow blogger Lady Cordelia has a great post on thrifting, check it out!


  1. LOVE IT! We'll be fast friends, my dear.
    I had to share this with you from about a year ago....

    1. OMG, love that lamp! We seem to be two peas in a pod : ) Your blog is so awesome, btw!