I've been asked that question a lot. Friends, co-workers, Facebook followers, they all want to know what I know about thrift shopping. So I'm going to share five helpful tips on how to score everything you want and more from the thrift.
- Thrift and thrift often. The best part of thrift shopping is the frequent turnover in merchandise. Donations are constantly coming in and new-to-you items are being processed, priced and moved to the sales floor every single day. Visit the thrift stores near you as often as you can. You won't always find secondhand gold, but when you do, it will be because of your tenacity.
- Looking for boardgames? Check the shoe section. Whenever possible, graze every single aisle. Hunt every department. Scavenge through every nook and cranny of the thrift. Like any other retail environment, shoppers change their minds on items and carelessly discard them in any spot nearby. Even the most organized thrift store has this issue. This is, however, something that can work in your favor if you happen to find that perfect piece of Pyrex sitting in the toy bin.
- Know your labels. If you're a treasure hunter looking for high-end wares, it helps to know designers' signature traits. The same can be said for finding authentic furniture, stemware, vases and even first-edition books. You might not be an expert in everything, but knowing what to look for in specific pieces can save you from getting duped by an impostor.
- Charge those smart phones. If you're a lucky owner of a smart phone, you have one multi-purpose thrift tool at your disposal. Google brand names, dates and anything you're unsure of to find more info on an item before you purchase. Map out a route for a day trip in the area and visit all the thrift stores you can. Take pictures to send to friends for a second opinion on an item...or just call them to brag about all the awesome junk you're scoring for cheap.
- Get social. Make your Facebook count for more than just Candy Crush and "like" your favorite thrift stores. If those thrifts have a dedicated employee who posts announcements about mass donations, pop-up sales or in-store events, you'll have some know-how that other thrifters may not. Use your social media outlets to virtually surround yourself with like-minded thrifters local to your area who will share the wealth. If I hear about a surprise sale or a new thrift store opening its doors, I spread the word. And I have plenty of friends who do the same for me.
It's true. A lot of the thrift experience can be chalked up to luck, simply being at the right place at the right time. One can even say there's an element of karma, or fate...that a much sought-after item just finds YOU. But sometimes hoping to find that certain something is not enough. Sometimes it means rolling up the sleeves and digging through those bins and boxes. It means visiting several thrift shops, several times a week. But it's a task that I do well. And now that you know a little more about how I navigate the thrift store, you're ready for the job. Happy hunting!