Today I’m going to share my top 10 (sometimes) dirty secrets to thrifting, finding and scavenging! I’ve been shopping at thrift stores since middle school, so I’ve been at the game for over half of my life. And I learned from the best– my two, crazy aunts who would even buy their food from what they liked to call the “Scratch and Dent” and the “Day-Old Bread Store.”
1. Keep a running list of what you want or need. Going into a thrift store, yard sale or flea market without a solid idea of what you want can lead to unnecessary purchases and buyer’s remorse. I can easily get overwhelmed in a junk shop, so I keep a list of things I’m looking for in Evernote, that way I can easily refer back to it.
2. Before you even go out to the thrift stores, flea markets or yard sales, look around your house. Do you really need this item? Can you re-purpose something you already have? Can you take a few items to the thrift store to donate before you buy something else? I highly recommend doing an inventory of what you already own before bringing in new items to your house.
3. Ask your relatives if they are trying to get rid of anything. I can’t tell you how many great finds I’ve found in my relatives’ basements and attics. They are usually happy to give it away and you’ll be getting a piece with family history.
4. Find out when your local thrift stores restock their items. Generally they restock during the week, so try to shop then, instead of on the weekend when items will be picked over.
5. When it comes to flea markets and yard sales, the early bird gets the worm. Seriously. Every time I’ve sold at a flea market, someone has bought stuff out of my car before I even have time to unload it. Those people can be ruthless. And you should be too if you want to get the highest quality items. Find out when the flea market opens and get there before opening time. By the time noon rolls around most things will be picked over and vendors will be ready to pack up.
6. If you aren’t a visionary, bring an honest and visionary friend with you to shop. I love shopping at antique malls and thrift stores with George because he can see through the dirt. He knows if something is fixable or just plain junk. I also really admire the thrifting skills of my friend, Candra. She is a total fashonista and has the keen ability to find key wardrobe pieces in piles of junk.
7. Ask yourself this question: is the piece easily fixable? I have a terrible habit of biting off more than I can chew and I’ve done this with far too many thrifted things. I now like to ask myself if I could fix it in a weekend. If I can’t, I don’t buy it. If I can, I make an attainable (S.M.A.R.T.) plan for fixing it.
8. Outsource the “fixing!“ 9 times out of 10 a thrifted blouse that you take to the tailor will be cheaper and will fit you better than buying a new blouse at the local mall. It’s more environmentally friendly too!
9. Use alternative sources of thrifting, such as Craigslist and Facebook’s Marketplace. Being tech-savvy in “junk” culture gives you a great advantage over all those old ladies at the thrift store! Just remember to bring a friend with you to pick up the items. Safety first!
10. And the most important rule of all is to have fun! If you are finding that you feel overwhelmed by all the stuff, take a break, get some coffee and relax. Then, take a look at your list and if you feel up to it, get back out there. Junking should be fun, not stressful!
Do you have any other tips to add? I’d love to hear them in the comments!