Thrift stores are full of unexpected goodies, but it takes skill to know where and how to find them.
With a little bit of creativity, cheap secondhand items can be transformed into something entirely new. You never know what you’ll find hidden in a flea market or estate sale!
If you’re new to secondhand shopping, it’s important to do your research before heading out on your first excursion. Equipped with the right information, you could find yourself walking away from a day of secondhand shopping with brand-new goods for a fraction of the price!
Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never been secondhand shopping before. Whether you’re hitting up your local garage sale or rummaging through the flea market, these tips will help you navigate the world of thrift shopping like a professional.
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Thumbnail Photo: Flickr / Bart Everson
1. Find Out When Your Favorite Stores Restock Their Shelves
If you know when your favorite thrift and consignment stores restock their shelves, then you can have first dibs on all the best items by planning your shopping trips around those days. I once scored a pair of $600 brand-new Sophia Webster heels for $45 because I asked an employee when they would be restocking!
2. Don't Rush
Anyone who’s ever been to a thrift store knows how unorganized they are. If you rush through the inventory too quickly, you may just miss a gorgeous skirt hiding in the blazers section. Take the time to really explore the racks — even the ones that aren’t your size or style.
3. Don't Be Afraid To Negotiate
At a flea market or yard sale, no price is set in stone. And don’t worry about offending the owner: They expect to negotiate, and they don’t mind giving you a reasonable deal. Put your negotiating skills to the test!
4. Make Sure It Works
Most secondhand stores don’t take returns, so before you leave the store, make sure whatever you’re buying works (if it’s an electronic) or fits (if it’s an article of clothing).
If you’re buying a piece of furniture, check for any nicks in the hardware — if you don’t mind a fixer-upper, you may be able to use this to negotiate the price down.
5. Hit Up Yard Sales Right Before They Close
Aim to go to estate sales and yard sales about an hour before they close — around this time, sellers will be more willing to negotiate their prices down to killer deals.
People who are desperate to get rid of their stuff will slash prices to unbelievable lows. I’ve been able to score Marc Jacobs jackets for just $2 by waiting until the last minute!
6. Don't Buy Things You Don't Need
It may be tempting to buy a pair of jeans just because they’re only $5, but there’s no reason to get them if you don’t need them, or if they aren’t even your size!
7. Ask About Sales
Make sure to ask a sales clerk about any special deals or sales happening now or in the near future at the store when you shop. Items bought secondhand are a good deal on their own, but with additional clearance, it’s almost like they’re being given away for free!
8. Make Purchases For Resale
Many people make money on the side by reselling cheap items they find at secondhand stores for a hefty profit. Be careful, though: In order to flip your finds for cash, it’s important to know what sells, so do your research before you buy!
9. Use The Internet As A Resource
Before you head out on your shopping excursion, look online for yard and estate sales happening in your area. Not only will you be able to map your day around where the yard sales are located, but several websites will include detailed lists of what each place is selling, pictures and all!
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