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Top 10 Thrift Shopping Tips

By Rachel
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Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Rachel Granholm

You will be a thrifting pro in no time using my top 10 thrift shopping tips!

Don’t know where to start when it comes to secondhand shopping? Do thrift stores seem overwhelming? Wondering how everyone else finds the good stuff and you don’t? Push those fears aside… I’ve got you! Today, I’m sharing my top 10 thrift shopping tips, that no one else tells you, for finding the goods. Come on, let’s go thrifting!

Thrift Shopping FAQ’s

What Is the Importance of Thrifting?

Not only does thrift shopping save you money but it’s also one of the answers to the climate crisis. To me, thrifting is one of the best solutions to all of the Earth’s needs.

Thrifting is a way of living sustainably during this time when environmental concern is at it’s peak. Through secondhand shopping, you can purchase things that you need, which helps to cut back on waste, reduces the carbon footprint, and decreases water and air pollution.

Lastly, and one of my favorite reasons to thrift, is that you are giving old things new purpose!

a Spring cloche displayed on a mantel with vintage books, Ironstone, and transferware

How Does Thrifting Help Sustainability?

Sustainable living is something that is very important to me and plays a crucial role in how I live my life. Read, in full detail, why buying secondhand is important.

Thrifting, by nature, is a powerful and mindful method for purchasing clothing, home decor, and many other items. And, since shopping secondhand is all about buying used or pre-owned goods, it’s helping to keep un-needed waste out of landfills, which is like a hug for Mother Earth!

In this post, reader favorite thrifting posts, I share why I’m so passionate about this subject and how we can all band together to be good stewards of the Earth that we live on.

Winter decor: Neutral and vintage with natural elements

How Does Thrifting Help You Save Money?

Going thrift shopping is my favorite weekly past time. Not only do I consistently find vintage decor to add to my growing collections, but I do so for a very affordable price.

Buying things that you need secondhand will save you money. Yes, you are still spending money but at about half the price of retail.

Let’s take plastic storage bins for example. At a retail store, brand new, plastic storage totes are not cheap at around $12.00 for one. At a thrift store, you can buy used plastic totes for around $5.00.

See? About half the price. And, if you are concerned about the cleanliness of a used item, well…that’s why we have soap and water!

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Here are some items that I can consistently find for under $10.00 at the thrift store:

a shelf of vintage hobnail milk glass

Shop Secondhand on Etsy

Thrifting Tips for Beginner’s

The tips below can totally be a huge help if you are brand new to the thrift shopping scene. Likewise, I have a whole post dedicated solely to beginning thrift shoppers. In this post, I go in-depth on where to find specific items, how to navigate a thrift store, and the easiest ways to find what you are looking for.

There is a big learning curve when it comes to thrifting. There is some skill involved, especially when it comes to finding unique and vintage pieces. My hope is that, through the tips and tricks offered here, you will have thrift shopping success!

a vintage milk glass banana stand with faux yellow stems on a Summer mantel

Top 10 Thrift Shopping Tips (that no one tells you about)

When I go thrifting, I’m always on the hunt for new pieces of vintage decor such as copper, milk glass, creamers, or linens. I also look for craft supplies, useful or needed household items, and vintage art.

All of the thrifting hacks I’m sharing below are methods that I actually use when I go thrift shopping. Keep these tips in your back pocket or bookmark this post for when you need a reminder on how to find the good stuff.

Let’s get into my tried and true thrifting pointers!

hobnail milk glass styled for Summer

Thrift Like a Pro: Top 10 Hacks to Unearth Amazing Finds

My advice to you would be to choose one of these tips at a time. So, if you go thrifting this week, pick one of these methods to try. Then, the next time you go, choose a different one.

Over time, and as you go to the thrift stores more often, these will become second nature. With practice, the good stuff will find it’s way to you!

1. Check All of the End Caps.

Each time I walk in to a thrift store, no matter if I’ve been there before or not, I try and check all of the end caps first.

These small shelves are easy to forget because they are challenging to see from within the aisles. But, in my experience, end caps have yielded some of the most amazing decor items for my home.

Take a quick glance from the top shelf all the way to the bottom one just to make sure you are not missing out on something neat!

a thrifted copper cheese shaker on a peg rack

2. Shop on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Beginning to mid-week are the best days to thrift. Why? Because, over the weekend, lots of people bring stuff to the donation drop-off. So, come mid-week, many of those donated items have been priced and are hitting the floor.

To ensure you get first dibs, go in the morning when the store opens.

a vintage fruit needlework picture

3. Go Down Every Aisle.

I have found some of my best finds in an aisle that it had no place being in. For example, one of my favorite vintage transferware pitchers was on a shelf in the craft supplies aisle.

Throughout the day, other shoppers pick things up, think about them, and leave them in a random place when they decide they don’t want the thing anymore.

So, walk every single aisle and carefully scan as you go. You never know what you might find!

4. Sign Up for Thrift Store Promotions.

Did you know that many thrift stores and secondhand shops have loyalty programs? Now, I have found this to be true mainly at small, privately owned shops, not large chains. Ask an employee if they have a rewards program that you can sign up for to get coupons or discount codes.

Alternatively, you can also sign up for their e-mail (if they have one). This will alert you to any monthly sales they might have going on or what color tags are on sale each week.

It’s just another easy way to save money!

vintage dishes styled on a shelf

5. Always Check the Glass Cases.

You know the glass cases at the front of the thrift store? Always take a gander to see what may be in them.

Last year, I had been looking for some Willow Tree Angel figurines to give as gifts for a few specific occasions. They are expensive to buy new so I was hoping to thrift some.

Well, wouldn’t you know it…I happened to peek in the glass case by the register and there was not one but three of those angels! Couldn’t believe it. It’s always worth checking because you just never know.

vintage copper displayed on a kitchen cabinet top

6. Dig Through Boxes.

Some thrift stores, depending where you are and the time of day, will have boxes that have been wheeled out on carts.

These boxes hold merchandise that is priced but hasn’t been put on shelves yet. To me, anything in those boxes is fair game.

A few years ago, I pulled out three pieces of vintage copper from a box that was just about to be unpacked by an employee. Because of my keen eye, I got dibs and scored HUGE that day!

a vintage transferware pitcher with green print displayed on a dresser

7. Ask For the Best Price.

*This method applies to un-priced or broken items only*

I don’t ever haggle prices at thrift stores. It’s just not something I want to do.

However, if you come across an item that is not priced, take it up to the counter and ask an employee what the best price is on it. Alternatively, you could ask if they would take (name a price) for it.

You can use the same method above for items that are cracked, chipped, or flawed in some way. But, please be fair. If a broken item is priced at $5.00 and you think that’s too high, ask if they will take $3.00. If they say no, be respectful of that knowing that you have the choice to take it or leave it!

a vintage marshmallow tin filled with pink crabapple stems

8. Always Walk the Store Twice.

Years ago, when I first got into thrifting, this is one of the first methods that I started practicing.

Basically, when you walk into a thrift store, take one lap around the store and down every aisle, in a clockwise fashion. Then, after you finish that lap, turn yourself right around and walk back around the store counter-clockwise.

This method helps you to notice different areas of the store, or things, that you might have missed going the other direction.

I have found some of the best thrift store scores shopping like this because of the different viewpoint. I promise you this thrift shopping hack works wonders!

vintage books and vintage milk glass styled on a shelf for Summer

9. When Looking for Something Specific, DIG!

When people ask me how I consistently find things for my collections, I always say that “I just dig”!

Dig through every single shelf and look up and look down on every single shelf. Dig through those boxes mentioned above. Get your hands a little dirty! If you don’t try or put the effort in, you won’t find the good stuff!

10. Thrift Often.

Lastly, to truly find the things that you want, you have to thrift often. Try and get out at least once a week, if not twice.

And, if you are short on time, just take a quick spin. Go through once and scan, then go back around the other way. If you don’t see anything in that ten-ish or so minutes, oh well! At least you made the effort to check.

When you thrift often, you start to reap the rewards!

an antique German birthday book styled in a hutch for Fall artwork

Closing Tidbits on My Top 10 Thrift Shopping Tips

And that’s a wrap on my top 10 thrift shopping tips! It is my sincere hope that these thrifting pointers are helpful for you. With mindful attention and careful practice, you can hone your thrift shopping skills and become a master thrifter!

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help!

Be encouraged to find what you are looking for, giving yourself, and others, grace along the way.

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What are your tips for thrifting? Let me know what I missed. I love hearing from you!

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top 10 thrift store shopping tips

If you are new here, I’m Rachel, the writer and content creator here at The Antiqued Journey. I’m so happy to have you! I encourage you to stop by the ‘about me’ page to get to know me a little more.

Here on the blog, you will find loads of inspiration for decorating with vintage and antique decor, simple DIY crafts and many thrifting adventures. If that interests you, I invite you to sign up for my e-mail. You will receive a free digital download as a thank you!

Follow Along with The Antiqued Journey

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34 Comments. Leave new

  • Debbie- Dabble
    February 22, 2024 9:19 am

    Rachel,
    Such a great post!! I have not gone thrifting in a long time…I used to go every Saturday morning after I got out of work ( worked night shift) and would hit about 20 -25 yard sales, estate sales and church flea markets…I scored some amazing things!! I also used to go to Salvation Army which is 5 minutes down the road from me…I stopped when my knee really started to give me grief because I was afraid I would fall and after working all night, running down the halls of my department in a hospital, I could barely walk!! Now that I am doing so much better after my knee replacement, I think it may be time to once again start thrifting!! Thanks for the tips!! I just went through my collection of vintage doilies and linens and will be posting about them on Saturday if you may be interested….Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Hugs,
    Deb
    Debbie-Dabble Blog

    Reply
  • You always have the best thrifting tips and tricks, Rachel! I think a lot of these would help when shopping antique malls and outdoor events too. Especially, digging for things and making sure to walk a space or an aisle twice. I’m always discovering things on the second pass that I never saw on the first! Big hugs and can’t wait to follow along on all your trips this year, CoCo

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      February 23, 2024 2:07 pm

      Thank you! Yes…they absolutely would! Lots of fun thrifting and antiquing adventures to come this year!

      Reply
      • I found a wonderful jacket that fit me really well at the thrift shop. When I went to go look at the price there was no tag. I took it up to the counter and the lady wouldn’t give me the best price. She said bc people were ripping tags off on purpose it had to be re tagged and put back out on the floor. I asked if I could leave my number and be notified when it was repriced she said no it will be back on the floor in a few days. Guess I wasn’t ment to have that coat. Walking the store twice is a good tip. I found a vintage Christian Dior nightgown that I didn’t see on my first trip around.

        Reply
  • Thank you for the great tips! Especially for the tip to also walk the store for a second time counter- clockwise! I walk it twice but it never occurred to me to be sure to walk it counter- clockwise. That makes so much sense! Thank you again!

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      February 24, 2024 6:13 pm

      Hi, Joanne!
      You are so welcome! I am so happy you found this helpful! Thanks so much for coming by today…I do appreciate it!!

      Reply
  • Thrift on eBay it’s cheaper than Etsy. Shopping Friday night is always good, as they bring out more items in preparation for weekend sales. They have to make room for donations coming in over the weekend.

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      February 24, 2024 6:12 pm

      Yes..eBay is a great online source, as well. I like to support small business owners on Etsy so I like to promote that, as well. Thanks for coming by today!

      Reply
  • Haven’t really shopped thrift stores but would like to start

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      February 24, 2024 6:11 pm

      Hi, Marianne!
      That’s so great…I hope you do whenever you are able and/or ready! LMK if there is anything specific I can help you with!

      Reply
  • MaryJo Materazo
    February 25, 2024 8:32 am

    Love this!!! Great post Rachel. Totally got me in the mood to go thrifting. lol. Have a great day. XO- MJ

    Reply
  • My favorite past time is Thrift shopping! Just reading this gives me the urge to get out there. One thing I always do is first get a shopping cart and second check which ticket color will give you 50%off. As for shopping if I have even a remote interest in something I put it in my cart. When I have browsed every aisle shelf and display I find a quiet spot and go through everything looking for damages deciding if I really want it or anything else I can think of. If you put an item back on the shelf and then change your mind the likelihood of it being there are pretty slim. Shoppers watch other shoppers. If it was something interesting enough for them to pick up then it’s interesting enough for me to check out. I could go on and on how excited I get when I find a real treasure. My last two tips would be go in with an open mind and bring a tape measure!

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      February 25, 2024 5:05 pm

      Hi, Susan!
      That’s SO FUN!!! Yes, you are absolutely correct on everything you said!! I do many of those same things, as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve parked my cart on a quiet corner, going through it all and adding the total up in my head:)
      Thanks so much for stopping by today!! I hope you find some good stuff thrifting this week!

      Reply
  • I always learn something from your informative posts Rachel! Thanks for sharing your great tips! I am doing much better thrifting and that’s because I followed your tip to go often! I try to hit at least one store weekly! It has paid off!

    Reply
  • Rachel – I love your tip of always walk the store twice. I can’t tell you how many times I found something great just by going back and again and “checking one more time”. The best finds are in the back corners or under a pile of stuff!

    Reply
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  • Sandra W Magle
    April 5, 2024 10:26 am

    I have many of your items in my own home. Thrifting is something I got earnest about when my husband retired and we lost my part of the insurance for me before being eligible for medicare. Suddenly it was costing $12K (2006) for us to insure just me. For three years, we bought nothing NEW, but I thrifted, gardened, canned, and made everything we needed. Now it’s just a way of life—saving the planet one oldnewgreenredo item at a time! Hugs, Sandi

    Reply
    • Rachel Granholm
      April 5, 2024 10:44 am

      Hi, Sandi!
      Yes…I was in a similar situation years ago when money was extremely tight. Thrifting then was a way of getting the things we needed like clothing and home goods for cheap. But, now that finances are much better, I still don’t like to buy new things. It’s so rewarding to find something super cool at the thrift store for just a few dollars, when, you know it would cost double that at a retail store. I literally won’t pay full price for ANYTHING!
      It’s also, like you said, taking care of the Earth and that’s my whole mission for The Antiqued Journey. I’m so thankful that you understand the necessity of living in a sustainable way! Thanks so much for reading today, Sandi! I appreciate it more than you know. Have a lovely weekend!

      Reply
  • […] Because this is a wreath, my suggestion would be to choose a watering can that is either plastic or a very light weight tin. You don’t want it to be heavy. Shop your house to see if you have one that would work otherwise check your local thrift store! […]

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Hello I’m Rachel.

I’m so glad you are here! Old things are my jam. Antique malls and thrift stores are my happy places.

Here on the blog I love to share my excitement, knowledge, and ideas about all things antique and vintage. Let’s journey together!

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