It is an easy concept: one man’s trash is another’s treasure. But sometimes it takes a little practice to really scope out the perfect thrift shop purchase. Thrifting really is an art. It takes a good eye, an open mind and a lot of creativity. But, hey, no pressure. Here are a few quick tips I’ve learned over years of second-hand shopping and saving.
1. Take your time
Go thrifting when you have time. It really isn’t a quick run-in, get-out type of shopping. There’s a lot to look at and a lot to take in. I can’t go into a thrift store without perusing all of the aisles at least once. Even if I go in with the goal of leaving with a basket, I’ll be sure to wander through the wall art and glassware. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, it is very possible someone set down something great in a place where it doesn’t belong. That’s fair game and I’m gonna take it. Second, I might find the most kick-butt vase, that I didn’t know I needed, for half price! Without checking the whole store, how would I have found it?
2. Keep an open mind
Don’t expect to find a Pottery Barn perfect piece just waiting for you to arrive. You can certainly have that expectation, but if you don’t want to be disappointed time after time, I suggest keeping a vision of your favorite pieces and styles in the back of your mind as you browse. How can you transform something discarded into something unique and perfect for your home? I’ll tell you how: spray paint. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Spray paint is your best friend! Seriously, just ask yourself “how would this look in black?”. If your answer is AWESOME, well, there you go. Buy it.
3. Don’t be afraid to dig
A lot of merchandise at second-hand stores is stacked up and pushed back on the shelf. That’s okay! And, actually, that’s the beauty of a second-hand store. There’s a general organization to things but there’s no specific way for it to be arranged on the shelf, so don’t be afraid to pick something up and set it back down somewhere else!
4. If you like it, buy it.
The greatest thing about thrift stores is they have one-of-a-kind merchandise. The key word in that sentence though is ONE. If you find a gem, but you’re a little on the fence about purchasing it, carry it around for awhile and think about it, but don’t set it down unless you’re ABSOLUTELY sure! Ask my mom about this one. Seriously, she is this rule’s worst offender. She’s always telling me about the deals she’s passed up. That’s no good. If there’s a specific reason you’re hesitant about bringing the beauty home, ask about the store’s return policy. Some thrift stores I shop at allow returns for a store credit!
5. Try, try again
If there is one thing I know for certain its that it might take awhile to find that first WOW of a deal or I CAN’T PASS THIS UP item. Don’t go in on your first try expecting to leave with a cart full of treasures. I like to shop at least once every two weeks. For others though, it might be more. It really depends on how often your thrift stores are moving merchandise and restocking.
So, there you have it! Its nothing earth-shattering, but sometimes all you need are a few words of encouragement to get started! What other tips do you have? I’d love to know your thrift store shopping routine!