Many people have either a strong love or hate of thrift stores. Is your first reaction at the thought of a thrift store, “Ugh, gross, get it away,” or “Oh, boy, what kind of deals will I find”? If you fall into the category of a thrift-store hater, you are not alone. I have always had an aversion to thrift stores simply because of their often dingy, smelly, and depressing atmosphere. Honestly, some of the things people donate to thrift stores should be burned, not re-sold. And, if you’re at the point in life where you are forced to shop at thrift stores, the reality that you can’t shop anywhere else only heightens your distaste for them.
In spite of their negative stigma, thrift stores are increasing in popularity, especially as people are looking for ways to stretch their dollar a little farther in hard times. Thrift store shopping takes an open mind and an eye for finding diamonds in the rough. Those who love thrift stores have mastered this, and are able to reap the benefits. If you’re willing to change your mentality about thrift stores and start saving more money, consider this list of thrift store does and don’ts.
- Scope it out. Thrift stores can range from high-end to downright disgusting, but you won’t know unless you actually walk in. If what you find makes you want to go home and scrub up to your elbows, at least you gave it a try. On the other hand, you may find a clean store that sells new or barely used items at incredibly discounted prices.
- Check in regularly. If a store looks attractive but simply doesn’t have any good deals the first time you go in, keep checking back. Stock changes regularly at a thrift store, so you don’t want to miss a one-day deal. The changing of seasons often prompts people to purge, so keep the time of year in mind when looking for particular items.
- Focus on these categories: home, décor, furniture, and books. Although you may find some clothing deals, especially in high-end stores, you will be digging through racks of outdated and well-worn items. If you have the patience for this, the deals are yours. Otherwise, focus on items in these categories that are gently used and will not outdate or go out of style.
- Be skeptical of electronics and appliances. These items are seldom discarded because the owner gets tired of them or they’ve gone out of style; their presence in a thrift store usually means they are broken in some way, even unnoticeably. No matter how cheap, these items aren’t warrantied and will likely be money pits. Furthermore, used appliances can be fire hazards.
- Stay away from children’s toys. Although you may find nice-looking toys in a thrift store, thorough sanitization is often difficult, and they may be hazardous to your children’s health. Toys you’re not familiar with may have been missed safety recalls.
- Pay attention to pricing. Just because you expect thrift store items to be cheaper than buying new doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to prices. Thrift store are still in business to make money. Assess whether the used version of an item at only a slight discount will hold its worth as opposed to buying it new with greater longevity.
If you’ve tried thrift stores in the past and had bad experiences, consider giving them another try, using these tips. Being open-minded about thrift stores can allow you to save money on everyday items and acquire unique treasures you won’t find anywhere else.