Walking into a thrift store can be overwhelming at first. Where to start? What to look for? How much to buy? As a seasoned thrifter, these concerns are far gone. Now I feel confident walking into a store and knowing that I will walk out with quality items. The biggest things I have learned is that thrifting takes a lot of patience, quick decisions, and frequent visits.
I am talking about a whole lot of patience. If you want to find one of a kind gems, you most likely have to sort through the entire store. That’s a lot of items and a lot of time, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can breeze through the aisles. Thrifting takes quick decision making. Most likely if you come back for the item later, it will be gone. Decide on the spot is it in good condition, would you wear it or could you potentially sell it, how often do you see this item, and is it worth the price. I can tell you countless stories of, “I wish I would have bought it.” Lastly, frequent visits allow you to keep up with the new items in the store. While once in awhile thrifting is great, if you are trying to sell items, I recommend going frequently as some of the best items can be snatched up off the floor as soon as they are put out.
Below I have listed what to look for when thrifting. The steps above are, important accompaniment to help you find great items.
What to Thrift
When thrifting, I have three mindsets I go in with to help aid my search of great finds. These mindsets are personal use, online selling, and repurposing/refurbishing.
I love thrifting mugs for myself! Cameras, clothes, decor, and just about anything will do. I wanted an instant film camera but didn’t want to pay the big bucks for a Fuji Film one. Instead, I would casually check the electronics section and ended up snagging a Polaroid camera for $3.99 at Goodwill. I intend to purchase some film from the Impossible Project to see if it still works. Either way, it’s a steal compared to new instant film cameras.
When looking for items for yourself, there are so many possibilities! I like to look for clothing items that I want, (and intend to purchase new or used) to see if I can find it for a great deal! This has helped keep my spending costs down. There are a lot of great styles options to pick from. Clothing from almost any decade can be found.
When looking for purses, I look for real leather. These last a lot longer and are extremely cheap compared to new leather goods. I have found 2 vintage Coach leather purses and two knock off Coach leather purses. All of these purses put up great with wear as well.
I also love looking for great denim items. They seem to wear well. My secret is always looking the men’s section. Most women’s shirts have a lot of interesting embellishments on them. When looking for a basic denim shirt or jacket, the men’s section is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for some high waisted shorts, stick to the women’s section.
When I look for sweaters, I am very selective. I make sure they are not piling, have any holes, or look too worn. You want to be able to get some use out of them. Also, sweaters are a very common so you can be picky.
I always start off browsing the what I call the “misc. items.” This ranges from wall art, coffee mugs, baskets, suitcases, pot, pans, and etc. You get the picture. When looking for things in this section I look for condition, how often I see this item (at thrift stores), and will I get usage out of it. Something might look cool, but if I don’t love it, I don’t buy it. You don’t want someone else’s junk to turn into yours. Remember, you’re looking for treasure. Last night, I snagged a vintage 60’s picnic basket for a great deal (This is not my auction, it is only to show what the basket looks like). I don’t see too many of these baskets because they have become somewhat outdated. It was in great condition and I knew I would use it and if not I knew someone who would.
Thrift, Flip, and Sell
When looking for items to sell I am extremely picky. Items have to be of spectacular quality in order to sell. Depending on your method of selling (eBay or Instagram) you can be limited to certain brands.
I normally try to stick to clothing and accessories when selling because they are cheaper to ship. When selling on eBay, I stick to big name brands because people have to search for your item. Brands like Vineyard Vines, Frye, Patagonia, Lily Pulitzer, and others are great profit potentials. When selling on Instagram I go for what’s in style whether it’s name brand or not. Oversized flannels, sweaters, shoes, and much more. On Instagram, people are looking for something they can wear. The best part is that because they follow you, your items will show up on their feed. No searching based on brand needed.
That being said, be picky about your items. No holes, discoloration (check the pits on lady’s shirts), and minimal wear. People want a quality item and if you sell them something other than that, it will jeopardize your reputation as a seller.
For this category, I stick mostly to furniture and other misc. items. All it takes for some items is a fresh coat of paint. Others, you have to get a little bit more creative with. About a year ago, I found some great pine bar stools with woven tops. In order to get the look I wanted, I applied some paint stripper, sanding, and paint to the base. At $10 a piece, these were a great deal.
Other projects are not so easy. When I found and old glass light bulb cover, I knew I could make something out of it. I have also taken an old door and made a coffee table out of it.
Not all things are worth repurposing or refurbishing. I like to look for items with real wood, no significant cracks, a solid/sturdy base, and potential. Get creative with your items, because then they become your own one of a kind creation.
I hope this post was helpful! I also hope that you feel fully capable going in or online to a thrift store and finding what you want. I would love to hear about your great finds as well! Feel free to leave a comment below.
Thank you for checking out my blog and I look forward continuing to give insight on thrifting!