top of page
  • Writer's pictureCait

My Top 10 Thrift Tips of All Time

Hello and welcome back to the blog dearest Reader!!

Today seems like a good day for some thrift-shopping. I need some fitted tops, and honestly, also just need to get out of the house for a little bit. So gearing up for that, I thought I would outline my top ten thrift tips for you all today.

Enjoy, my beautiful deal-seekers!


1. Be patient

I think the main reason that some people get frustrated with thrifting is because it can be difficult to find good items. But the problem is that most people do not put in the amount of time or energy it takes to really find those good pieces. If you only stop for twenty minutes here and there, you're not going to find the same items you would if you devoted an hour to digging through all the nooks and crannies of the store. The truth is that I don't find anything I want to purchase probably 75% of the time, but I always go back to try again.

2. Be picky

If something has a stain doesn't fit quite right, or seems a little "off", don't purchase it! You won't wear it, use it, or be happy with it, and in turn, you'll probably be turned off by thrifting in general. You usually cannot re-sell thrifted pieces, so if you buy something you don't love, it's going to take a hit to your bank account. Don't think that just because your purchase was under ten dollars that it's fine: those tens add up until you're losing hundreds of dollars a year on unused thrift.

3. Be aware of pricing...

It's easy to assume that just because something is thrift means that you're getting a great deal. Oftentimes you really are, but sometimes thrift stores price things higher than what it would be to just buy it new. My favorite example of this is thrifted tank tops: you can buy a brand new tank top from Walmart for two dollars, while most thrift stores will charge three dollars for a USED tank top.

Don't assume that just because something is thrift means that you're getting an amazing deal. Be aware of general pricing for clothing, apparel, furniture, kitchenware, etc, and shop smart. If you need to get educated on this, begin mentally tracking the prices at box stores, Amazon, and your favorite bargain haunts.

4. Be consistent

If you're looking for quality pieces, check back frequently because those are the ones that get snapped up right when they're put on the shelf. I have found that if you go more often, you will find better items than if you thrift once a season or once a month. I like to check back often, especially if I'm looking for a specific piece like a kitchen appliance or a formal dress. Ask the people who work at the store when they put out fresh items, and make sure you check back on that day of the week!

5. Don't be afraid to barter

If I find an item I like that has a little bit of a tear or rip, I will show the cashier and ask if the damage has already been reflected in the price for the item. Usually there was some oversight, and you can get the item for an even LOWER price than what was listed.

I only do this with pieces I know I can sew and fix, or if I don't mind the damage, like a basket I bought last week. It had a small hole in the side that wouldn't be noticeable once I filled it with blankets, but I showed the cashier and got the price taken down from $6 to $2. YAY!


Do not, and I repeat: DO NOT, buy thrifted clothing without trying it on. I know it may seem yucky to try things on, but thrift is not like clothing from an Old Navy; this stuff is USED and may fit funny or have a weird itch or problem with it. Don't lose sight of the goal: a well-rounded closet.

Make sure pieces are flattering, gently used, and good for your coloring. Make sure they don't wash you out, and if you need to, snap a pic in the dressing room and ask your sister for her opinion!

7. Avoid anything "extremely used"

Mushy pillows, scuffed shoes, shirts with sweat boiled into them, and blankets with pills all over them are all absolute "NO'S." Do not be fooled into thinking you're getting a good deal just because you're at a thrift store. Keep an eye out for the "gently used" or "like new" options. I make mistakes in this area quite often because my mindset has always been "it's two dollars, what's the harm?" But those dollars add up, so shop wisely and don't compromise!

8. "Low-use" items are the KEY

What do I mean by this? Well, there's a reason most people aren't thrifting for their daily pair of running shoes. I thrift for things that don't get "touched" a lot. Think, side tables, picture frames, lamps, plates, glassware, vases, artwork, throw pillows, and decorative pieces. I strictly avoid relying on thrift when it comes to my HIGH use items like cutting boards, undergarments, toiletries, etc. I also don't like to thrift for things that my guests or husband have to use because even though I'm comfortable with thrift doesn't mean that THEY will be.

9. Go during "off" hours

Sometimes thrifting can feel too competitive and stressful with everyone reaching for the same pieces. I like to go during the "dead" hours, and completely avoid weekends, lunch hours, or the after-work rush. If you have an afternoon off here or there, use it thrifting! I like to go to thrift stores if I have to kill time between appointments or before meeting a friend. If the parking lot is jammed, it's not going to be a fun experience. Take your time, and be nice to your fellow thrifters. Graciously smile and be kind: we're all here for a good deal!

10. Learn about ALL versions of "second-hand"

Not all used things are the same! As far as pricing, the pecking order usually goes thrift, consignment, then antique from least to most expensive. The difference is that thrift is all donation, consignment is when people sell their clothes to the shop, and antique is usually items that are valuable because of the age or quality of the item, and are often sold directly by the owner of the piece.

My favorite thrift stores are Salvation Army, or local charity shops that are connected to local ministries. Goodwill is great because of their diverse employment project, but it is much more commercial than a church-run charity shop. I love that charity shops give their proceeds DIRECTLY to the ministry, and the prices are usually much cheaper than Goodwill.


I feel like I still have many more tips for thrifting, but I'm going to leave it at this for now. I'm actually going to run over to a few shops myself, so thank you for reading my loves and have a fabulous week!

Remember that this is all a learning process, and you're not the first one to have ever bought a thrifted top you never wore once.

Sending you love,




Commenting has been turned off.
Michelle Forsberg
Michelle Forsberg
Jun 17, 2019

Thanks Caitlin! Do you have any tips on thrifting for home furnishings? How do you make your home look beautiful on a budget?


Jun 14, 2019

Hi! If you do choose to buy something new rather than thrifting, is there anywhere (low-cost, budget friendly) in particular that you shop from? I'm looking to be more mindful of my purchases!

bottom of page