If you’re new to “thrifting” or just feel like you never have any luck finding deals, this is for you 🙂
Rule #1 : Be on a Mission
A lot of times you come home from a thrift store and can’t even remember what you just bought. Although this is how a lot of women shop and it’s certainly cheaper than doing the same thing at a retail store, it still adds up. Not just money wise, but also stuff-wise. The point of thrifting is to get what you need for next to nothing, not to get what you don’t need for next to nothing, so stick to the sections that house the item(s) you are looking for. Period.
Rule #2 : Don’t Settle
I’ve said this before and I will say it until I’m blue in the face… NEVER SETTLE, especially when it comes to furniture. You will find exactly what you are looking for. If you even have to think about whether or not you like it, LEAVE IT! Chances are it will not grow on you. If it’s the price that has you debating, you probably don’t really love it. Most people won’t let an item being a little bit too pricey get in their way if it’s exactly what they’re looking for and they love it. If you do love it, but the price is way out of your league, that’s different.
Rule #3 : Become a “Preferred Customer”
This is important for so many reasons, but first let me clarify. This isn’t some thing you sign up for, it’s an idea- make sure you are in the store enough that the staff is familiar with you. It is absolutely important that you are friendly and outgoing with everyone there. If someone helps you find something, thank them up and down. If they load something in your car, a small tip is nice. You want them to WANT to take good care of you. Why is this so important? They are the first to know when something comes into the store, so when you mention to Carol, the sassy lady in the furniture department, that you are looking for a cheap Chesterfield, guess who is going to be the first shopper to know? YOU! It is also much easier to bargain on the price when they know you! Didn’t know you could negotiate prices? OK…
Rule #3 : Negotiate Prices
Find the person in charge of the department you’re looking in. (This is where it pays to know people!) Note any defects or damages to the item, e.g. scratches, missing buttons, missing hardware, rips in fabric, mismatch or incomplete set, etc. Also, most places have the date they acquired an item on its ticket. Has it been sitting in the store for a while? Chances are they’d like to move it out to make room for more items. Always be friendly when bargaining. Mention something like “I need a new desk for my son’s college dorm, but my budget is $30. My husband will kill me, but I could stretch to pay $40.” If you are buying more than one big item you have a much better chance. “I need to buy this bunk bed and this media cabinet. Will you take $100 for both? I know it’s a stretch, but I’m on a tight budget.” The worst that will happen is you will get a “No.” In which case walk away from one or both items. Chances are if you were negotiating in the first price, the item wasn’t worth the price to you.
Rule #4 : Don’t try to Haggle!
This is one of those “pick your battles things.” If you love an item and it’s at a reasonable price, BUY IT! Don’t try to talk them down on the price when it’s exactly what you need and right inside your budget. It’ll come back to bite you in the form of unsuccessful bargaining on something that you love and HAVE to have, but will leave you $5 overdrawn on your checking account!
Rule #5 : Don’t Browse
Browsing is the DEVIL! When you wander around any store aimlessly, you buy things you don’t need. You may think “What a deal, I can’t leave this here!” or “Oh this would look great repurposed into xyz.” or even “Wow this would be so cute in so and so’s house.” Bad news! Don’t buy anything unless you have an immediate need for it or you plan on using it for a project that will be completed within a week (after a week chances are you won’t do it.) As far as buying things for other people go: Unless this person has asked you to keep an eye out for something specific and you have texted them a picture of the item asking them if they are still interested and they have said yes and the price is right and you have arranged a time to bring it to them and they have thanked you for your amazing eagle eyes and are going to pay you the amount due… WALK AWAY! If all that sounds like too much trouble, you just wanted an excuse to buy something that you have no use for, but like. Again, BAD NEWS.
Rule #6: Shop early, Shop Often
Most thrift stores put new items on the floor every day before the store opens. If you have an item you are stalking thrift stores for you want to make sure you check in the morning before anyone else has the chance to come in and steal it from you! If it’s feasible, check the store daily or at least a few times a week. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone into a thrift store two days in a row, finding exactly what I was looking for the second time around!