A large green parrot perches on top of a rack filled with clothing on hangars

My Top 5 Thrifting Tips

KEEP A DETAILED SHOPPING LIST on you at all times. 

A list in your phone is often easiest, the more detailed the better (e.g., black pants/ high waisted /wide leg/ natural fiber/ +measurements). This list is your safety net and will keep you from buying things that are unnecessary. Shopping secondhand can be a labyrinth of wonders and a list will narrow your focus and keep you on task. Look over the list before you shop and when you are losing focus inside the store.

DON’T GO INTO A THRIFT STORE HUNGRY or in a hurry, if it can be avoided. 

That truly goes for shopping anywhere. The space in your home is limited, your money is limited and your time is precious. Put yourself in a good place for decision making and have a water bottle on hand, use the bathroom before wandering, and consider treating yourself to a snicky-snack so you don’t fill that void with an unnecessary purchase. If you feel that you do not have time to properly look – really look… considering coming back later.

SLOW DOWN  just before you buy something, take a deep breath and look it over. 

Any repairs or problems?  With clothing, if you can — TRY IT ON before buying. You want to be sure that you love what you’re buying so that you keep it for years to come. If it’s an object, game or unopened box that is taped closed, ask an employee if you can take a closer look. Don’t be afraid to say thank you and walk away — truly. Consider a trip to the  thrift store an opportunity to train your eye and learn about materials and your own preferences. Over-consumption is a problem regardless of where you shop, so remind yourself that it is absolutely necessary to be willing to walk out of any establishment empty-handed. 

FIND AND FREQUENT A THRIFT STORE that’s between your home and someplace you often go (bank, work, grocery store). 

Shopping second hand requires patience.  You have to look frequently to find specific items. So make it fun for yourself by having a favorite place you go, where there are friendly faces.

Which brings me to my last tip — TALK TO THE EMPLOYEES. 

Maybe there is a discount day that you are unaware of, it’s possible they may give coupons for donations, or maybe they can tell you when inventory is refreshed. In general, it helps to be kind to humans that work customer service and I almost always make friends at my local thrift store.  

(Pictured above is my friend Rocky — he’s the mascot at one of my regular thrift stops in Rome. He bites, but has excellent taste.)