How to Master the Art of Second-Hand Shopping and Save More Money

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By Jacob Maslow

According to CNBC, second-hand shopping is growing at twice the rate of other retail thanks to a surge in thrifty consumers and social acceptance.

If you want to stretch your dollar, second-hand shopping is a great way to save money. These savings stretch across whole categories of products found at thrift stores. In addition, when buying second-hand, you also make a massive contribution to the environment since new products require resources and fossil fuels to manufacture, package, and transport.

When you decide you need a clothing item, toys for the kids, or a piece of furniture for your home, the items on your shopping list can be found in a thrift shop, and you don’t even need to pay for the shipping to get it home.

People often shy away from thrift shopping for several reasons, but remember that they give unwanted items out for very little money with the hope of helping others and for environmental reasons. They want you to score a deal, so go out there and make the most of it.

However, as you go about your second-hand shopping, here are some tips on how to master the art and save even more money:

1.      Know What You Need

As with all shopping, you need to know what you need. Therefore, keep a list of things you want and which lines from which brands you prefer for their fit. If you’re an avid reader, make a list of books you want to read and make sure you have your family’s shoe and clothing sizes. Also, when hunting for household items, write down requirements like the desired color, number needed, and measurements.

Make sure you always have the notes on you to consult if you find a bargain somewhere – your phone is usually the best place to keep these to ensure you don’t misplace them.

The list’s purpose is the same as the one you take to the supermarket – not to buy unnecessary items and overspend. Therefore, if the thing is not on your list, you don’t need it and aren’t saving money by buying it.

2.      Bargain Hunting Takes Commitment

Some neighborhoods may have better thrift stores than others. For example, in high-end areas, you may often find new clothing items with their tags still on that people bought and never wore. On the other hand, some second-hand chain stores are usually more expensive than local ones. So, make a point of checking out which stores are best for you to frequent.

The more you go to the thrift shop, the more likely it is to find bargains and hidden treasures and to find out from other shoppers the best times for better deals. Therefore, it is a good idea to go at least once a week when looking for something, allowing you to spot any new items and to find out the date of any upcoming sales. Then, when sales begin, go on the first day to ensure you find the items on your list.

3.      Think Outside the Box

When looking for a particular item, but you’re a newcomer at thrifting, there are several things to consider. Firstly, keep an open mind. If you have set your heart on sourcing an item, but don’t find it, look at the potential of similar items that can serve the same purpose with a fresh coat of paint or new handles.

Furthermore, repurposing items can help you create what you need with something else. For example, a stack of attractive, old suitcases can make the perfect nightstand or side table.

4.      Best Racks for Bargains

Depending on your favorite thrift store, your bargains may very well be at eye level, but don’t forget to look around, even on the floor. Use your scanning skills to help you when searching for a bargain, and don’t just stick to one aisle.

5.      Make the Acquaintance of the Staff

When you frequent one thrift shop, the people working there will start to recognize you as a regular. In addition, they will willingly impart information about new arrivals, the best days and times to shop, where to look for items, and which items to avoid. With their help, you can save time when looking for specific items.

6.      Look For Sales Bargains

Thrift store sales days offer plenty of bargains. Sometimes sales are based on a 50% markdown of specific clothing items, like jackets, and at others, they base them on tag colors with a different color going on sale on a particular weekday.

They also have sales as the end of a season approaches to make space for new items, so check out for any designer bargains. Of course, classic pieces work best, but if you like high-fashion things that you’ll only wear for one season, you can donate them back the following season.

7.      Make a Close Inspection of Your Items

Look at the items you like carefully for any chips, cracks, stains, faults, or holes. Only buy if the price will make it worthwhile to spend time or money on repairs. For example, a cheap sweater that is only dry-cleanable might not be much of a bargain. Ask them to test the item before purchasing when buying electricals or lamps.

8.      Ways to Avoid Overspending

Firstly, have a monthly budget and stick to it. One way to ensure you don’t overspend at a thrift shop is to pay in cash. Secondly, if your thrift store has a frequent shopper program, join it and use your coupons for extra discounts.

Thirdly, try clothes on if uncertain because most second-hand shops don’t have a return policy. Finally, the more you browse, the more you risk overspending. Set a time limit to the amount of time you’ll spend in the store.

9.      Best Days for Thrift Shopping

Weekends tend to have the most crowds, meaning less variety for you. However, most thrift shops restock mid-week, making this the best time to find what you need.

10. Donate to Keep the Cycle Going

Thrift stores are only able to exist because of the donations they receive. Therefore, it’s essential to give back and keep the cycle going. You can sort through your clothes to see what you no longer wear and take them in as a donation. Furthermore, if you’re done with items you’ve purchased from a thrift store, consider donating them back instead of throwing them away.

Thrift shopping can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience if you know what you’re doing. With these tips, you can start sourcing great bargains that fit your style and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start thrift shopping?

Find a thrift store near you and browse the racks to start thrift shopping. Look for items that are in good condition and priced reasonably. Ask the staff for their opinion if you’re unsure about an item.

What are some tips for thrift shopping?

Some tips for thrift shopping include inspecting items carefully for any damage, asking the staff for advice, and looking for sales. Additionally, try to donate items back to keep the cycle going.

Where can I find thrift stores near me?

Many websites can help you find thrift stores near you, such as Yelp, Google Maps, and Craigslist. You can also ask your friends and family if they know of nearby thrift stores.

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