A Quick Guide to Thrift Store Success

Macklemore knows that the thrift store is where it’s at, what about you?  One man’s trash may be your big find. What are some tricks of the best of the best of the thrift store diggers that will help you fill out your funky flat when you find you are short on funds?


Location location location

Know your areas in your town. Regional incomes influence not only what’s dropped off but how picked over the store is going to be. Poorer neighborhoods and areas near schools get worked over pretty hard. Certain areas in your town also may have more stores, so the pickings get spread out over a number of stores.

Historic or older areas will give you a shot at some older furniture and accessories. In newer neighborhoods, the furniture and decorative selections will tend to match the area.

Get a schedule together

Learn when the best days are to go into your favorite stores. Each store’s routine is different for when goods go from drop off to the floor. It pays to be one of the first on the floor at popular shops. Also, learn when each store has their discounts. Our local store discounts a different area each day and sometimes discounts everything in the store. A friend of ours caught the right guy on the right day and got 50 percent off a new to the floor patio set. She picked up a tile table and four chairs with cushions worth $600 for $130. Winning!

Know the staff

The more you are there, the more the staff gets to know you on a first-name basis. They even start to figure out what you are hot for. Before too long, if you are a decent person, stuff starts to be put aside for you or you might start to get some phone calls on some really good deals. If you’re lucky they might even start to call you by your speciality. “Hey, there’s creepy sad clown girl” or “plaid guy would love this.”

Frequent flier

Go often, work fast, and go often. The more you go, the greater your chances of being there at the right time. Be there as early as possible to get the first go at the store. Regular low passes will also help you fly to the island of misfit toys level of stuff that no one is ever going to pick up.

Don’t get all judgy

Some of the roughest thrift stores will have some good pickings. If people don’t go in often, you’ll score when you do. Hold your breath, bathe in sanitizer, and save some money on that stuffed squirrel dressed as a pirate.

Be creative

Look at what’s in front of you through different eyes. Just because it’s a plate or a glass doesn’t mean it can’t become something else with a little work. When you only pay a little for something, it can really give you some freedom to mess it up. Since you paid so little for the parts, you won’t be disappointed if it all falls apart. Find a new treasure and try again!