Thrift Store Shopping {The How To, Tips And Planning}

Kristin Sullivan
by Kristin Sullivan

I cannot wait to share my favorite pastime with you – bargain hunting! This is exactly how I make a whole day of thrift store shopping {the how to, tips and planning}.

I love the thrill of the hunt at my local thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales and flea markets. You never know what great deals you’ll find on home goods, vintage items, clothing items and new items.

The best part about hitting the second-hand stores is you really and truly don’t need much expertise. Just a little money, an open mind and an imagination to be able to see what a particular item can become, how you can “fifth sparrow no more” a secondhand item or thrifted item.

A lot of people haven’t discovered thrift store shopping yet which is a door to a whole new world of items. I want these tips and tricks to help you find the easiest way to plan a day of bargain hunting with your friends and family.

Before You Go, Make A Plan

By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail

- Benjamin Franklin

First, choose a neighborhood, part of town or a town to visit

Google consignment stores, antique stores and thrift stores. While searching its a good choice to pay attention to operating hours to make a plan of which stores to visit and in what order.

  • Use the website EstateSales.NET to locate estate sales in the area and add it to your shopping plan. You can search by city, zip code or specific item on the site.
  • Search for garage sales in the area you are visiting. People will list these on Facebook Marketplace for potential buyers or the city’s Chamber of Commerce might have a resource that you can use to find them.
  • Add “big box” thrift stores to your route. Places like Goodwill and Salvation Army are usually large stores with a big variety and selection of home goods.
  • Look for local small consignment shops. This is a great place that will have a mix of gently used pieces and new retail store items at a lower price.
  • Search for a local thrift store in the area that supports local charities, causes and organizations. Not only will you get a good deal but you will support a charity project.
  • Find antique stores or for a bigger bang for your time and buck an antique mall. These will have lots of vendors, each booth with its own personality and decorating tastes.

* Find a yummy restaurant (or two) on your route. It’s never a good idea to shop hungry!

Second, consult your list

What list, you ask? When you are in need of new things for your home keep an ongoing list of specific items that you are looking for with the colors, measurements and its purpose or location in your home. In the Thrift Store Shopping Guide a fill in list is included just for this purpose! This is a great way to find the exact household items you need and not make unnecessary purchases that may or may not be the right fit for its purpose.

Also have a list handy of items to always look for. There is such a list included in the Thrift Store Shopping Guide. For example, I shop for the holidays all year. I will buy Christmas in July and Easter in October if I find it!

Third, it’s a good idea to make a schedule

I know, thrifting is a fun treasure hunt and you don’t want to rush and possibly miss anything. But I suggest figuring out how much time you will spend in each store. Trust me when I say time flies when you are treasure hunting and thrift shopping!

Get the ultimate guide to Thrift Store Shopping {The How To, Tips And Planning}

You’ll find a huge list of items you want to look for in thrift stores, a shopping list for tiered trays, a holiday on a budget tips and tricks section, a fill in list, and decorating ideas for your thrifty finds!

When You Are Thrift Shopping

Check the store’s specials for that day. These are usually on a sign at the front of the store. If you do not see these deals – ask an employee! These can save you a little bit or a lot of money. One particular good deal I’ve seen is color of the day – this can be the color of the price tag, the color of the item, or a color you are wearing. Check the store’s social media platforms and/or website for a coupon or the sales for that week or day.

The home décor section is your best bet to start in. Walk the aisles, keep an open mind and place any thrift store finds in your basket that catch your eye. This is the best way to make sure the item is yours. It will not be on the shelf when you return, trust me on this!

Below are just a few areas to look in while thrifting plus ideas on how to use your thrifted finds. For a complete list of what to look for check out the Thrift Store Shopping Guide which has the step-by-step guide to all things thrifted!

The Art and Frame Section

These are always stacked together so make sure you flip through all of them. Remember frames can be repurposed!

  1. Vintage Chalkboard DIY For Back To School and All Year
  2. Ideas For Thrifted Frames

The Linens Section

Great for cloth napkins, vintage quilts and bedspreads, curtains and crocheted blankets.

  1. Use Valances As Table Runners
  2. A Tea Towel For A Tiered Tray

The Knick Knacks

Go through this slowly, you will never know what is hidden in the back on all those shelves!

  1. Repurpose For A Patriotic Farmhouse Look
  2. A Beautiful Centerpiece Of Thrifted Pieces

When You Are Done Shopping

Find a quiet corner to go through your thrifted finds and see if each one is a keeper and a perfect piece for you.

  • Check for signs of wear. Is it in good condition for the item’s age? Is it of good quality? For instance a basket missing a handle is not a good purchase but a vintage pyrex bowl with a few scratches is.
  • Is it sold at affordable prices? Or is it too much money? I set limits on what I will spend for a specific item.
  • Without any fancy equipment you can check the value of an item with the app Google Lens. My friend Rachel at Tea and Forget-Me-Nots has a great post on Google Lens here.
  • Do you know where it is going at your home? I have found myself overwhelmed with pieces I have purchased for craft projects that don’t come to fruition, items I have bought because I was sure they would fit (obviously did not have my list), and those things that I LOVED in the store but really weren’t for me.

It’s The Right Time To Go Thrift Shopping

Whether you are one of those who consider yourself part of the new thrifters group who hasn’t taken the next step and ventured into a thrift store business, or someone who has gone for the first time or many times and found the low prices, unique items and second-hand products to be a great deal that should not be passed up I hope these tips help you.

Before You Fly Away To Plan Your Thrifting Trip To Find All The Bargains

Pin any of the images to Pinterest so you can plan a shopping day in local thrift stores, estate sales, yard sales and flea markets – hover over any picture to save the pin to your Pinterest account. So easy!

Kristin Sullivan
Want more details about this and other budgeting & minimalist living ideas? Check out more here!
Join the conversation