The 8 Best Pro Tips on How To Start Thrifting

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If you’re in need of new things but you don’t have a budget for brand-new, it may be time to consider purchasing new-to-you things from thrift and consignment shops instead.

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If you’ve never tried thrifting before, you may be about to awaken to a whole new world of items for a fraction of store-bought costs. While thrifting can take more time than shopping for new items — and some discernment to weed out what is good from what is not — once you get the knack, you can save a ton of money and feel good about repurposing gently-loved items. Here are tips from thrifting pros on how to get started.

Just Jump In

Truthfully, there’s no magic formula for getting started, the experts say. Your best bet is to just get started by hitting up the thrift shops in your area.

“You only need to know the location of your nearest thrift stores and a good idea of what you need or want to get started,” said Stacy Verdick Case, owner of Peony Lane Designs.

Make Your Money Work for You

John-Paul Cody, creator of Trends & Tactics, added, “Unlike most hobbies, you don’t need any fancy equipment to get started either, just a local thrift or consignment shop.” He recommends chains such as Savers, Value Village, Goodwill and Salvation Army. He tends to hit up the sections where he’s already familiar with the products, such as electronics. Though one of his favorite thrifted finds was “a pair of handmade leather Thursday boots in mint condition for $5 that retail for $200.”

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Go Digital

Though thrift stores are probably your best bet for finding things because you can see and feel the quality of what you’re looking for, according to Jake Turner, a qualified authenticator at luxury resale site Cudoni, “Thrifting has gone digital. Gone are the days where thrifting means rummaging through dusty secondhand shops.”

Sites like Poshmark, ThredUp and his own, Cudoni, curate the items for you so you can shop online.

Know What You Want

It may help your thrifting be more efficient if you know what you’re looking for in advance, said Brooke Grasley, founder of Restore Décor and More, and an avid thrifter. “If you want a dresser or lamp, know what size and shape you want. Then you can start hunting for the perfect piece. It only takes a few coats of paint to transform an old thrift store item into a beautiful piece.”

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Be Willing To Refurbish

Not everything you find it going to be the quality you seek, so Grasley recommends you pay close attention to the condition with an eye for refinishing or refurbishing. Particularly with home goods and furnishings, Grasley suggests you decide if any damage can be easily repaired, and whether the style will still work once you’ve painted and refinished it. Grasley regularly looks for used quality furniture and picture frames.

“You can save up to 90% on good furniture that can look brand new if you’re willing to give it a fresh coat of paint.”

Look For Quality

If you’re shopping for clothing, Edward Mellet, co-founder of Wikijob.uk, recommends you look for “the best and longest-lasting fabrics: cotton, silk, linen and wool.” He also keeps an eye out for vintage leather and suede, which tend to last longer.

Make Your Money Work for You

You want to avoid items that have stains, pilling, faded colors or other damage.

Additionally, name recognition goes a long way toward proof of quality. “Look for recognized brands. Branded items are usually of good quality. The higher the quality, the higher the price. Also, keep a lookout for products sold by retailers like Nordstrom and Anthropologie — they are noted for their superior products.”

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Shop in Affluent Neighborhoods

Case also recommends that if you want to find high-end products for yourself, you may want to check out the thrift stores in more affluent neighborhoods. “You might pay more than an average thrift store but the pieces you find will also be better quality/newer pieces,” she said.

Rake In the Savings

The fact is, when you buy a secondhand item, especially one in good condition, you’re instantly saving up to 75%-95% on the retail price of certain items, Grasley says.

Brooke Riley, CEO and founder of Re-Fabbed, said, “You can save hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Not only has she saved money on purchasing secondhand, she buys thrift items for homes she and her husband flip for business. “So really, thrifting has helped me not just save money, but build a seven-figure business.”

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Have Fun

In addition to saving you money, Turner added, “Thrifting is fun. You never know what you’re going to find and new products are added constantly. It’s a great way to show your own unique and individual style.”

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Last updated: Aug. 17, 2021

About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

 

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