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Publish Date: January 18, 2022

Thrift Store Tips: 7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Thrift Shopping Experience

Love to visit your local thrift store? If so, you’ve come to the right place. There are several thrift store secrets that can help you make the most of your thrift shopping experience. In fact, experienced thrifters use certain strategies to find high-quality items for crazy low prices. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or brand new to thrift shopping, these tips and tricks will help you uncover hidden gems - and get them for the best possible price! 

If you’re ready to take your thrifting to the next level, here are 7 tips to help you make the most of your thrift shopping experience.

1. Have a Plan

Before you visit your local thrift store, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place. What do we mean by a “plan”? By plan we mean - have a clear goal in mind. It’s important to have an idea about what you’re looking for, how much you want to spend, etc. 

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself before visiting your local thrift store:

  • What items am I looking for?
  • What is my budget?
  • Is there a certain style or trend I’m going for?

Once you’ve asked yourself these questions, there are a few extra steps you can take to make your thrift shopping seamless.

  1. Take pictures of the items you have at home - whether it’s clothing or home decor, bringing pictures of what you already have will help you easily match new items.
  2. Save pictures of items you like online - these pictures will help you find the perfect items in-store, especially if you’re looking for a certain style or trend. Online images can also be helpful for thrift store staff if you need assistance looking for a particular item.
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2. Visit on a Weekday

If possible, visit your local thrift store on a weekday. Weekdays are often much quieter. As a result, you’ll have more time and space to do your shopping. Plus, you’ll have a better chance of finding rare gems! 

Want to make sure you’ll be thrift shopping at the best possible time? Give your local thrift store a call to see when they recommend you visit.

3. Be Aware of Sales Days

We all love to save money! And one of the best things about thrift shopping is all the money you can save. But, what if we told you you could save even more! 

Like other stores, shrift stores have sales days. Goodwill, for example, offers numerous promotions and sales throughout the year. Be sure to find out when these sales days are and visit your local thrift store during this time to save even more money. 

Here are some promotions to keep an eye out for at your local Goodwill.

Goodwill Thrift Store Sale Days

Goodwill Tag Sales

Every Sunday morning, Goodwill announces (on their website and social media) which colour tags will be on sale. For the rest of the week, anything marked with that colour is 50% off.

When are Tag Sales offered?

Goodwill’s Tag Sales last all week long. That is, seven days a week you can visit your local Goodwill and find items for 50% off!

Seniors Day

Seniors Day is a special sale day at Goodwill. During this time, thrift shoppers who are 60+ receive 15% off regular price items.

When is Goodwill’s Seniors Day?

Goodwill offers Seniors Day savings every Wednesday - all day long!

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4. Know When the Thrift Store is Restocked

Knowing which days the shelves at your local thrift store are restocked will help you find quality items. Thrift store shopping is popular on the weekends, and quality items go quickly! So, if you’re looking for a gem, be sure to find out when the shelves are stocked so you can check out new items before anybody else.

The friendly staff at your local Goodwill will be happy to tell you when the shelves are restocked, and the best days to visit.

5. Dress for Success

Did you know - what you wear when you go thrift shopping can affect your experience? You’re probably wondering, how? Well, it depends on what you’re buying! 

If you’re on the hunt for clothing, consider wearing items from home that you intend to match. For example, the undershirt, pants or jacket you intend to wear as part of your new outfit. In addition, some thrift stores don’t offer fitting rooms. In this case, you may want to wear something that you can slip new items over to try on.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect furniture or home decor item, be sure to wear something comfy. It’s easy to spend hours thrift shopping and being comfortable will make your experience a thousand times better!

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6. Learn to Recognize Quality Items

Thrift stores are a great place to buy quality clothing and items, including brand names. However, to find the best deals, you’ll need to know what to look for. 

If you know your brand names, this will be easy. Just take a peek at the item’s tag to see if it’s a quality brand. However, for other items, discerning quality isn’t always easy. 

Here are some tricks you can use to find high-quality items:

Tips for Finding Quality Clothing at the Thrift Store

When you’re thrift shopping for clothing, keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs of quality.

  • Natural fabrics - items made from high-quality fabrics, like silk, wool, and 100% cotton, will be of higher quality.
  • Metal zippers - metal zippers are also a sign of quality. Not only will they last longer, but they are also easier to zip and less likely to pull off the track.
  • Clothes with linings - high-quality jackets, blazers, and dresses typically have inner linings. So, when you’re shopping for these items, be sure to choose items with linings over those without.

Tips for Finding Quality Furniture

Shopping for some quality second-hand furniture? Here’s what to look for:

  • Quality workmanship - high-quality furniture will be well built. To determine whether something has been built well, look specifically at the item’s joints. For example, on furniture with drawers, look for dovetail joints. These interlocking joints are used to connect the front of a drawer to the sides and will look something like the interlocking pieces of a puzzle. Dovetail joints signify a high-quality item.
  • Solid wood - furniture that is in good condition and made from solid wood is a great find. Solid wood pieces typically last longer and can be refinished.

7. Location, Location, Location

The neighbourhood surrounding a particular thrift store will determine what is donated. Therefore, if you’re looking for something specific, consider researching a thrift store’s surrounding location and what type of residents live there. 

Here’s what you’re likely to find based on the neighbourhood:

  • Upscale neighbourhoods - designer brands and high-quality items
  • Urban neighbourhoods - trendy decor and clothing
  • Suburban family neighbourhood - kids’ clothing, toys, workout gear, etc.

Not sure how to determine what type of neighbourhood surrounds a certain thrift store location? Check on the home prices in that area. The higher the price of the average house, the more upscale the neighbourhood is.

8. Know Before You Go

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For maximum thrifting satisfaction, check out your local thrift shop’s online store before you head down! 

Checking out items online before you visit will give you a better idea of what you can expect when you get there. Better yet, Goodwill’s online thrift store allows you to purchase items online and pick them up later. Thrift shopping has never been so easy!

Ready to Test Your Thrift Store Shopping Skills?

If you’re ready to put these thrift shopping tips to the test, head down to your local Goodwill. You’re sure to find some treasures when you stop by! 

For those near Calgary, our huge Goodwill Plaza location at 9655 Macleod Trail SW is stocked full of quality items.

To find a thrift store location near you, check out our store directory - Goodwill locations in Alberta.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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