For me, thrift shopping is the best retail therapy out there. There’s nothing like finding something great and cute for an even better price. I created this guide in hopes of helping you find some awesome things the next time you hit up your local GoodWill, Salvation Army, Red/White/Blue Thrift, and so on.
When it comes to thrifting I feel like 50% of it is luck, 25% is motivation, and the other 25% is skill.
Luck: You don’t know what to expect. You can’t look up their inventory or what’s for sale online. It’s always a gamble.
Motivation: However, with the right attitude, your chances of finding good things are in your favor.
Skill: How you approach the store and manage your time as well as energy changes the game.
First, put on some comfortable/old/easy clothes. Thrift stores are filled with clothes that have been in there for a long time and are probably older than you are. GoodWill’s aren’t always well-kept and they can be very dirty. You’re also going to be trying on a lot of clothes. I recommend a dress and some sandals. Bring hand sanitizer and some water.
When arriving at the store, grab a cart and pick a section to start. Most GoodWill’s have the following sections: Juniors, Kids, Women’s, Jeans, Men’s, Designer, Home, and Shoes.
If you don’t want to dive into clothes right away, start off in the Shoes or Home department because that’s where you’ll find all sorts of things like purses, belts, mugs, fancy china, and cute unique decorations for your home/dorm/room.
When looking for clothes, I usually just pick a spot/aisle and start going through every article of clothing on the rack. In department stores, you know what you’re going to see if you look through the rack because there’s usually a model in front of it and multiple sizes of the same item. That’s not the case at GoodWill– You may love a shirt, but it might not fit.
When something finally catches your eye, look for the following things:
Stains, holes, tears, and wear. On a shirt, check the armpits, collar, and belly area. For pants, look out for any stains near the thighs & check how worn it looks in the crotch area. Make sure the ends of the sleeves are clean on a jacket. Check if the zipper on a dress works and isn’t broken off. Count all the buttons on the shirt and see that it has all of them. For shoes, don’t be intimidated but also try to bring some socks so you can try on the shoes on comfortably and in a more sanitary way.
If it’s something that’s way out of your style but still interests you, put it in the cart anyway. The goal isn’t to just find what you’re looking for and get out. You want to find something unexpected that you end up loving because it’s so different.
Depending on how much time I have, I’ll (literally) go through every relevant aisle at Goodwill and throw anything I like into my cart. By the time I’m ready to try on clothes, my cart will be full. Out of the 30 items I have, I’ll probably leave with 2-5 things I genuinely like. It’s a struggle sometimes but it’s a great feeling knowing that I’m paying no more than $20 for a new outfit.
If you haven’t found anything, do not fret. They put out new clothes on a weekly basis and you can go back and forth between the different thrift stores in your area because they’ll always be changing things up.
BONUS: Most thrift stores offer student discounts so don’t forget to take your I.D. Goodwill offers a 15% discount on Wednesdays for students and a senior citizen discount on Tuesdays. They also have a “color of the week” promotion where any article of clothing with the tag that matches the color of the week is 50% off.
Next up: A thrifting haul. In my next post, I’m going to share all the amazing outfits I’ve created that were 99% thrifted. Do you have any thrifting hacks? Let me know 🙂