Thrifting Tips, Tricks & Etiquette

As a seasoned thrift “expert” I’m often hearing people say they have no luck, can’t handle the atmosphere or feel overwhelmed when it comes to second hand shopping. I recently uploaded a video to my YouTube Channel talking about my tips and tricks for a great thrifting experience! Here is a a more detailed look at what the video covers.

Check out the video here!

Decide Where & When To Go
  • Don’t trust Yelp & Google reviews, people usually only post when they’ve had a bad experience not the millions of great ones! They can also be quite biased from people that are never satisfied, you’ll notice they complain about things everywhere they go.
  • Don’t assume the wealthy areas have the best items. You can often find designer items or pieces brand new with tags that have been donated in bulk from retail outlets.
  • The music is probably going to be terrible, so bring your own earbuds! This is also great for disconnecting from those around you, it blocks out all the conversations happening around you.
  • Choose your companion(s) wisely. There’s nothing more sad then shopping with a friend or family member that is too vocal about their opinions. Make sure you go with supportive and open minded individuals that accept your style may not be their own.
  • Go early for fresh content and more selection! Plus it tends to be much less busy.
  • Go late… much like going early but the store is likely to be real messy.
  • Never go on Saturday! As a non-Saturday shopper I can’t understand why anyone would venture out at noon on a Saturday. Its as bad as a half price sale day!
  • Don’t try and shop with very little time, there is far too much pressure and you’ll end up becoming frustrated that you didn’t find that perfect item you were searching for. Thrifting is an art, it takes time.
  • Bring colour swatches if you are hoping to match an item at home. Or keep a photo on your phone. Every blue is the same… until you get it home and realize its more green, more black, more pale, more turquoise than you realized.
  • Dress appropriately (the right undies, bra – if you’re hard core wear leggings and a tank as your base for trying on!) Especially on half price days when the last place you want to be is waiting for a change room.
When you are shopping
  • Start with your favourite section first. Leave the sections that are not super exciting to you for days when you’re just killing time or if the sections you like are really busy. People shop in clusters much like driving…
  • New rule: only buy what you true love, buy only what you adore. This cuts down on needless spending and may actually cause you more frustration than its worth from overloading your closet with items you aren’t wearing.
  • Furniture looks smaller in a large store, keep your measurements in mind!
  • Don’t expect all prices to be good or reasonable (most price at 50% of retail, not 90% like we hope) Many people think because its in a second hand store its going to be under $10, you’ll notice pretty fast this isn’t the case in many stores.
  • Be aware that vintage clothing and Asian brands run anywhere from 2 to 6 sizes smaller than today’s US!
  • Shop off season. Sometimes the best deals are not things currently in demand such as coats and sweaters in the summer, sleeveless tops in the winter.
  • Think outside the box for how you can repurpose items for your home or office.
  • Look in all sections if you have time. Garments are frequently left abandoned in the wrong section, end of a rack or tossed on top of a rack.
When you’re finished shopping
  • Check the bottoms of items like pottery and dishware for the label… don’t be fooled by dollar store items that they have overpriced!
  • Inspect all items carefully checking for flaws, shredding seams, stains (crotches especially – eww!) anything that might change your mind about it.
  • If you’re going to ask for a lower price do so with respect to other shoppers. Don’t make a scene if there is a line up – ask an associate that is on the floor. Many store employees do not have the authority to haggle.
  • Assume you’ll be on your own to lift furniture to your vehicle. Also be sure to have your own means of strapping it down.
  • Help by removing the hangers in advance, folding items with tags out to speed up the check-out process.
  • Find your club card, wallet, keys while you’re waiting in line.
  • Find out the return/exchange policy and what it actually covers. Many can be very specific, time sensitive or non-existent.
  • Get on their mailing list for special offers and upcoming sales or follow on social media where possible.
  • Visit often! You can’t go once a year and expect to have lots of luck. Not every trip will be successful! 
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