How to shop at thrift stores like a seasoned pro (especially, if you’ve never done it before) | This is Jthomp

How to shop at thrift stores like a seasoned pro (especially, if you’ve never done it before)

| Posted in Projects/Experiments/Crafts: DIY


I love thrift stores.  I love the hunt for a great find.  I like finding great clothes that are not retail price.  I like discovering interesting treasures. I rarely like to spend a lot of money on clothes and love that I can revamp my wardrobe periodically without breaking the bank.

If you’ve never been to a thrift shop but wanted to try it out and don’t where to start, this article is for you.  If you are new to thrift shopping; this post will give you some tips to enhance your experience.

Thrift Store Shopping Tips

General Tips

My first suggestion is that you visit multiple thrift shops, especially if you’ve tried thrift shopping before and didn’t like the store you went to.  Each shop is run differently; even stores that seem to be part of a “chain” are run individually. I love my local Goodwill stores but these are run regionally so yours may be different.  You’ll have to check out what is in your area to see which ones are the best. I don’t just check out the Goodwill in my town; there are some in the neighboring towns that are great that I explore often.  You might not have to travel huge distances, but consider the thrift shops available in nearby towns.

My next tip is explore how the store are laid out.  Sometimes you will see similarities is the general layout of a thrift shop, but there can be some minor differences.  It helps increase your comfort level and efficiency when you know where you can find items in the shop. One thing that you want to check for is how they arrange their clothing.  Some stores display the clothing by type and color. Some display clothing by type and size (those are my favorites and I have tended to stick with those stores over others). If you are looking for other treasures, it’s helpful to know where you can find those items in the store.  Take the time to get to know the layout of the shop and you will be able to uncover some great finds.

Clothing Tips

When it comes to clothing shopping; in addition to knowing how the clothes are displayed, I also think it’s important for you to try on all clothing items.  Most thrift store have a fitting room, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Varied brands of clothing fit differently, so you might check out a range of sizes and try the items on just in case.  Be choosy when making your selections.

clothing aisle at a thrift store


One example of where that comes into play for me is with jeans. If I’m shopping at a thrift store for jeans I only buy name brand jeans that I like; I don’t just buy any pair in my size.  Only buy things that you love, that fit. Don’t buy things that don’t fit hoping that you will fit into them one day, because you may not and those items will sit on in your closet waiting to be worn. I have one of those collections myself.  My most recent trip yielded to pairs of dressy Dress Barn brand capris for work for $3.99 each. I also saw my first LuLaRoe item at a thrift shop. It was an XL Cassie skirt (too bad Cassie’s don’t look good on me, it was $3.99).  LuLaRoe skirt at a thrift store

Oftentimes shops will have certain types of items on sale.  It might be a particular color of tag, or a category of item, but be sure to check out what items might be on sale at your stores.  A lot of times this might be posted near the entrance or register.


My last tip is to not forget to look check out the books if you or your family members are interested in reading.  I keep a list of books I want to check out or authors that I might be interested in. Sometimes I get lucky. My daughter recently mentioned wanting her own copy of a book that she was reading from her school library.  I got really lucky and found it on one of my more recent trips; it was a virtually new copy. I recommend keeping a list of books you own by an author/series, etc. that you follow so that you don’t buy duplicate copies of books you already own.

If you haven’t been to a thrift shop, give it a try.  You tried and you still aren’t sure, use my tips and see if you find any treasures this time around.

Do you have any tips for prime thrift store shopping?  What’s been the best thing you have found at a thrift store?  Are you going to try it out or are you a seasoned pro? Let us know by leaving a comment.    

3 thoughts on “How to shop at thrift stores like a seasoned pro (especially, if you’ve never done it before)”

  1. Deidra says:

    Best thing for me was maternity clothes!

  2. Zoë says:

    Ah I love thrift shop shopping! I just don’t do it enough and I can’r understand why… I definitely need to try more as it’s so much better for the environment (and my wallet). I love your tip about jeans – I also had a bad experience with them and will only go for name brands now 🙂

  3. jplagens says:

    I love thrifting, I look for name brand jewelry. I have found 2 Fossil watches that just needed a new battery. Ha! A new battery. Go figure.

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