3 Secrets to Thrift Store Shopping

When it comes to thrift stores, there is much more than meets the eye. Did you ever think the thrift store workers get first pick before a piece goes on the floor? Or, maybe they’ve missed a valuable item even after they’ve had first dibs? You can always take me along thrift store shopping to take the guesswork out of thrift store shopping. I can tell you what is a bargain and what is just junk as you shop. Yes, you can really have me right in your purse or back pocket via your tablet or smartphone. Connect with me on FaceTime, Skype, or your favorite video chat app live while you shop in the thrift store. Ask how. It’s easy, fun and you will be at a great advantage when trying to find that thrift store bargain. Pick your date and time in my calendar for a 10 minute chat. Watch a video of a 2,500 dollar thrift store find I identified. Before you make that call with me, prepare using these three secrets.

1. Get the 411

Information is key when it comes to shopping at thrift stores and when reselling online or in other markets. Sure, thrifting is fun but you need to try to figure out why an object ended up in a thrift store in the first place. I know it seems like you don’t need all the background on an item, but it sure helps when you are trying to decide to buy it or to learn about its origin or condition. This info will also help you sell it. For example, could that thrift store strand be real or fake pearls? Watch how to identify valuable pearls.

When you understand why something hasn’t sold in a thrift store, you are way ahead of the game. Ask yourself: Is this item damaged, smelly, incomplete, repaired, missing pieces, mismatched, etc.? Ask the store salesperson if they know if the mate to the salt and pepper shaker set or the missing earring of a pair of costume jewelry earrings might be elsewhere in the thrift store. Items get moved around in thrift stores all the time by shoppers who think they may want something and then realize they don’t want it once they find something else like a Van Briggle pottery vase or a Hummel figurine. Someone may have changed their mind along the way and decided not to walk back to the area where they picked up that thrift store item to return it to the shelf.

Look over the items in a thrift store well, as sometimes the information you need about an item may be hiding inside a drawer or around the back or in the pocket of an item. I had a client find a diamond engagement ring in a pair of men’s wool trousers at a thrift store–maybe someone said no to a marriage proposal, was fed up with the situation, or didn’t check the pockets of the pants he was wearing before making the donation. Read three tips about diamonds. So be sure to check all over–interior pockets of purses, at the very bottom of a box, inside a lidded cookie jar, canister set, or stack of teacups–of your thrift store purchase before you buy and certainly before you resell a thrift store item.

2. Learn the Thrift Store Calendar

Find out the day of the week when new thrift store merchandise comes onto the sales floor. Some thrift stores only put out new items like vintage furniture on a particular day of the week, some regularly restock the store. Find out if they give a discount on Thursdays for Seniors or Tuesdays for Students, then plan accordingly. It might be a good way to get that elderly neighbor out for a day of fun thrift shopping and lunch. And, you can benefit from his/her seniors discount. In return, you can offer to buy him/her lunch or do the driving.

Keep a thrift store calendar of the different local thrift stores and what they specialize in such as valuable dishes or valuable printsand learn when they restock the shelves. That way, you are using your time wisely and not wasting gas going to a thrift store and finding nothing new.

Certain holidays will see a spike in thrift store donations. In college and university towns, at the end of each semester when students are moving in/out, area thrift stores are known to get donations and it follows, new merchandise too. Knowing their schedule will help you find bargains.

3. Ask for Discount

I know, I know. Everyone tells me that the thrift stores are helping people and giving people jobs and that you should not ask for a discount at a thrift store, but I have to say this is your choice but many, many, many successful thrift store buyers and resellers always ask for a discount. You are still doing well and supporting the thrift store when you purchase something so I say you should ask for a discount. I’ll go one step farther running the risk of sounding really frugal, I would say always ask for a discount. If they have a 20% off sign on the rack or at the register or at checkout, ask for 30% off. Watch a video of me offering more secrets on thrift store negotiating tips.

Your pieces might have been sitting on the shelves for months collecting dust and the thrift store will be happy to do whatever it takes to get those pieces out the door. Maybe that thrift store is having a very slow month. If the thrift store seller doesn’t entertain your offer, ask if they will give you even a lower percentage off the sale price. Be polite, but do ask. All they could say is no and often times, the answer is yes. Read tips to negotiate when antiques shopping.

And remember, there is more than one way to get a bargain at a thrift store. It doesn’t have to be a one time, one item type of discount where you get money off one item. A discount at a thrift store can come in many forms. Perhaps you could ask for a discount for buying more than $50 worth of stuff or you can ask for a discount for being a regular customer or a regular donor to the thrift store, too. Most thrift store managers are happy to keep their customers happy.

Don’t be afraid to walk with your wallet if you don’t think you are getting a bargain at a thrift store, too. You can always use the money you saved at that thrift store to buy something else.

Need research help? Don’t forget, you can get my Ph.D. expertise and my years of experience in the palm of your hand when thrifting, too. You can book a video chat appointment for the day you know you are going thrifting and I can help you spot bargains on the spot using your phone or tablet on FaceTime, Skype, or your favorite chat app. You can gather together your thrift store finds and spend time video chatting with me to learn the value of your stuff, too.

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