How to go Thrifting

I know that I tend to type on and on about thrift stores. I can’t help it! I freaking love them! But I also know many people have never been thrifting (it’s okay, breath, we’ll get through this). I want all of you to know the joy I feel every time I go thrifting. The thrill of hunting for treasures in mounds of stuff from the 80’s, and buying your treasure for a teensy price. Plus, I LOVE when people compliment me on something and I can say “It’s from a thrift store!”

The first step, is scouting out thrift stores in your area, via the interwebs. Salvation Army and Goodwill are pretty much nationwide, and Savers are good, if there’s one near you. There are also probably some local ones. If you are fairly nervous about going to a thrift store, maybe drive past once to “case the joint”. There’s no reason you should be nervous, but I know back in the day, I had a certain amount of trepidation, not knowing what to expect.

Once you get in there, there will probably be tons of clothes on racks, some furniture, and small household items. Most places have the clothes divided up by men’s, women’s, and kid’s at least, and some even divide by size and type.

Every thrift store I’ve been to has things pretty well labeled as to location of merchandise, and prices. Goodwill tends to have one large label per rack, like “Women’s Blouses $5” or something like that, while Texas Thrift puts a price tag on each item. Certain stores, like the Goodwill Outlets sell by the pound, such as $1.49 per pound of whatever you want, and items over 4 pounds are priced separately.

Keep your eye out for gems like this. My sis Beans is obviously super excited about it!

Most of these places take credit and debit cards these days, and they should have those pictures by the front door letting you know which ones they take.

I worked at a thrift store for over a year, so I’m going to tell you a bit about behind the scenes.

1) They do not wash any of the clothes. There is no giant laundromat in back. If things come in dirty, they are probably just trashed, but most things are donated fresh from the dryer.

2) They can sell tons of stuff, from sporting equipment, to fabric, so you can donate and/or find almost anything.

3) Things do not stay on the shelf forever. With the clothes, we would pull everything that had been out for over a month, bag it up, and it was sold, by the pound, to another company that recycled the fabric into other things, like mattress and teddy bear stuffing.

4) This is not a garage sale. Do not try to bargain with the employees. I have never been to one where anyone was given that kind of authority by the company. You are at a THRIFT STORE. If the shirt you want is missing a button, or has a tiny tear, it’s probably because someone else already wore it a lot.

5) I have never been to one that allowed returns, but there are almost always dressing rooms.

I just loved this bizarre unicorn, with what appears to be a pool cue coming out of its head, having recently eaten lots of jalapenos.

I generally approach a rack, and start flipping through very quickly, to see if there’s anything interesting. Sometimes I have a small list of items to look out for, or sometimes I just look for fun. Many places have a color tag system, where tags of a specific color will be on sale for half off for a week. There is usually a big sign at the front of the store to let you know this.

Over the years, I have found supplies for costumes, stuff for around the house, and antiques for dirt cheap. I love thrifting, and I hope anyone who has never gone will try it, at least once.


November 1, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Random typing.


  1. Beans replied:

    Ok, so I haven’t exactly started a blog yet, but I have a few pre-blog posts that I’ve churned out. Thrifting (being thrifty in general, really) was one of the first ones I wrote! Great minds think a like!

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      Nope, I’m suing you for being a copycat, or whatever the legal term is.

  2. Thrifty Fun « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] and who would then subsequently purchase these things? That’s why thrifting with friends, and Beans in particular is fun. We laugh our asses off the entire […]

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