As some of you might know, I looooove thrift shopping. On my Instagram you’ll see at least ones a week a new thrift treasure. Often I receive comments like: “Our thrift store doesn’t have those beautiful things”, “I never find anything like that” or “You’re always so lucky!” But it’s not all about luck. I have my own ‘strategy’. In this blog I’ll give you my 9 thrift tips. Because I believe that when you’re really interested in learning how to thrift, you can pick up the tricks fast and be a thrift pro in no time!

1. Time and patience

First of all, thrift store shopping takes time and patience. If you’re searching for something really specific, there’s a high change you’ll be disappointed. For me, thrifting is about finding a treasure, a hidden gem. What that exactly is, will differ per person. Sometimes I visit 3 different thrift stores in 1 day without any luck. And sometimes I do find what I was searching for. Knowing that there’s a possibility to find something special makes me more motivated to keep going and searching.

Create your own luck

Going often is the key, because thrift stores add new items daily. I have a few favorite stores that I visit every 2 or 3 weeks. And in between I’ll go to different places. Do I have an errant somewhere further? Then I’ll check the Dutch Kringloop app, which tells you where the stores are, and make a quick stop on the way if possible. It’s not a coincidence that I always find awesome stuff. I create my own luck by going often.

2. Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap

The first years when I started thrifting I would come home with a lot of ‘cheap’ stuff. Stuff that would end up in the back of my closet. Or in a box on the attic. When you buy everything that’s cheap, you can start to overbuy and collect things you don’t need. So before I hit the cash register, I set some ‘rules’ for myself and ask the following questions. Is it something I would wear immediatly? If it’s something for the house, where would I put it? I also closely examine the items. Is it undamaged? And if it’s damaged, is it going te bother me? Earlier, I would buy broken items and think: I can fix this. But I know now that never happens. So these questions will rule out a lot of items for me.

Remember, just because something is an amazing deal, doesn’t mean it belongs in your house. I had to learn to not buy every beautiful item I saw. You’ll find your own ‘rules’ by experience too.

3. Set a price and budget

Thrift stores may have low prices, but it can still add up if you buy many items. When I see a beautiful item I don’t look immediately at the price tag. First I set a price for myself for what I think it’s worth. If the price turns out to be higher, then I’ll be thinking twice. That makes the decision a lot easier. For smaller objects I do the same. Even if something only costs 2 euro I’ll be thinking if it’s worth it.

Another tip I can give is to set a budget and leave your card at home. Taking only cash will help you to make conscious choices and avoids overspending. However, I have to confess this is not something I do myself. I bring cash, but I still have my card just in case I spot that amazing item.

4. Look through everything

If you’re not a patient person and won’t put in the time to browse, then you won’t find stuff. When I go to a thrift store, I can easily end up spending over 30 minutes going through the racks. Most of the times I walk the same aisle twice, because I don’t notice all the items in one glance.

5. Store research beforehand

Before you go shopping, find out which store stocks more of the specific items you’re looking for. Some thrift shops specialize in (kids)clothing or toys. While others will have a wide range of furniture or home accessories. Look up pictures on Google or check if they have a website. In The Netherlands you can use the Kringloop app, where people leave reviews that’ll give you more information. I also check the size of the store. I like big stores, because the items are more spread out. But that doesn’t mean the smaller stores have less beautiful items.

6. Sell before (or after) you buy

Most of the time when I’m buying something new I also sell an item. Do I see a chair I’d really like to buy? Then a chair at home has to go. When you think like this, you avoid impulse buys. Selling a few items beforehand can also help you save money for your thrifting and create (storage) space for your upcoming purchases.

7. Search for good quality

Thrift stores sometimes offer high-end quality pieces with low price tags that you can find if you know what to look for. When I’m shopping for clothes I look at the fabrics. Natural materials will often be of higher quality. Like silks, wools, linens, 100% cotton and real leather. I also look at the brand. If I don’t know it, it’s probably vintage. And if I want to know more I Google the label.

Watch our for insects

When I see wooden furniture, the most important thing I look at is that the wood doesn’t contain woodworm. If you see little, tiny black wholes, then there’s a big change of woodworm. So don’t buy it! Unless you’re good in pest control.

Other than that I’m shopping for pieces in the style that fit me or my house. By now I have some knowledge about items from different countries and time periods. So I’ll recognize these and know their value. You’ll get this by experience, research and a lot of thrifting too.

8. If you like it, throw it in the cart

You can’t assume that when you put an item back it’s guaranteed that it’ll still be there a few minutes later. I’ve had many times that I picked up an item, placed it back and the woman behind me took it. Or it was gone by the time I came back. So when you see something you really like, put it immediately in your basket. If it’s a big item you can ask the cashier to reserve it for you. That gives you time to think while you browse through the store. And if you do change your mind you can always place it back.

9. It’s not mine until I cleaned it

People who think thrifting is gross or beneath them will never find anything. You’ve got to be able to make your hands dirty. Touch the items, try the clothes and walk through dusty aisles. Just bring your hand sanitizer and clean your purchases at home. As soon as I’ve washed the clothes or cleaned the items I bought, and they smell like my own products, I have the feeling they’re really mine : ).

Who’s in the mood for some thrift shopping now?

So far my 9 thrift store tips! Over time you’ll discover your own strategy, but I hope this will help you on your way. And for the experienced thrifters who read my blog, do you have any tips you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!


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