It takes, time, determination, and a little bit of elbow grease to dig through the inventory and scour the shelves of your favorite shop. However, if you know how to go about it, thrifting can be incredibly successful. The key is to know how and where to look.
As a very inexpensive hobby, here are a couple tips to take with you on your next thrifting venture that’ll take your finds to the next level.
Shop on Wednesdays. Everyone is a weekend shopper these days. On Saturdays, the ReStores can get crowded, and inventory will be picked over. Shop the middle of the week instead to get the best items.
Research vintage labels. Use Label Resource to find out more about your vintage clothing label. Use your smartphone to check the Label Resource at the Vintage Fashion Guild when you find one you can’t identify. Be sure to check out that label on furniture and home accessories as well.
Know your thrift store’s specialties. Some stores will be better for certain things, and that’s intentional. Many stores will have best kinds of certain merchandise and ship them to a specific store in the area. One store may be the best for furniture, and another for inexpensive children’s toys and books.
Look for items to repurpose. Sometimes you can find exactly what you’re looking for, but don’t forget to look at items in a different light. For example, turn a snare drum into an end table, use old window panes as a headboard, and refinish an old door and use it as the top for a coffee table!
Learn markers of quality so you can easily spot valuable pieces. Hardwood furniture is better quality and will last longer than veneer. Hardwood will have the same grain all the way through, and furniture with a veneer will be made of plywood on the inside and feel less porous. Natural materials are more expensive, regardless if it’s furniture or clothing, so when you see natural materials, you’re looking at a higher quality piece. Lining in a blazer means it’s a higher quality item of clothing. The best blazers are also a wool blend. A woven, not printed, tag in a piece of clothing means it’s a more expensive brand.
Keep your eyes peeled for 100% new items. Habitat ReStores have standing arrangement with specific retail stores to donate any unsold clearance goods when they don’t sell. This means you can find totally new furniture, tools and appliances, seasonal items and toys at ReStore for a fraction of the cost.
Finally, don’t give up after your first visit. Sometimes, you don’t always find what you’re looking for. The great thing about thrift stores is that the merchandise is changing and being refreshed constantly. If you’re feeling discouraged, don’t count out your local thrift store just yet. Wait a week or so, and you’ll likely find a whole round of new merchandise to shop through.