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5 Tips for Shopping Second-Hand Like a Pro

By a Verblio Writer

(913 words)

Shopping can be a fun way to unwind while finding something new and exciting to wear. However, if your clothing budget is not going as far as it used to, it may be time to consider shopping second-hand at thrift stores.

Thrift stores often carry a stigma of only selling outdated items — but don’t let that stop you. In reality, you can often find the latest styles from your favorite designers at a second-hand store for a fraction of the price. Plus, not only does thrifting save you money, but it also helps to give old items new life, which reduces waste.

Just like when shopping at your local outlet mall, there are certain tricks to learn in order to make the most out of shopping at thrift stores. To help get you started, here are a few tips to help you shop second-hand successfully.

1. Get to Know Your Local Stores

In order to have the best experience when shopping second-hand, it is important that you become familiar with your local thrift stores. While shopping at these stores can often be hit or miss, as whether or not you find anything you like will depend on what donations the stores receive, you can ensure you have access to the best selection possible by finding out when your local stores stock new items. 

Shopping as soon as possible after a store has restocked will give you first access to the best items and the best shot at finding great deals. You should also learn when your local thrift stores have sales, as this can help you to save even more money when shopping. Many stores will have days where certain items are half-off or even a dollar. Follow each store on social media or sign up for their email list to find out about these sales in advance. 

2. Know Store Policies

Before you start shopping, you should also read up on the store policies of thrift stores in your area, as they can vary greatly from one store to the next. For instance, it is important to ask stores what their return policy is, as many thrift stores do not allow returns — or if they do, you will likely have a very slim window after purchasing an item to make returns. Knowing these return policies can save you hassle down the road, and it may influence which items you decide to purchase.  

3. Shop Out of Season

Second-hand stores offer such a wide variety of products that walking into one can feel overwhelming. It can be helpful to go into your shopping trip with a plan of what you are hoping to find. Are there currently any gaps in your wardrobe that need filling?

As you make a plan for your shopping trip, consider thinking ahead about what items you may want next season. Thrift stores often receive items at the end of each season, so you may actually have an easier time finding that winter coat you have always wanted in the summer. On the flip side, this also means that winter items may be picked over by the time November rolls around. So, do not be afraid to think ahead and look at items that you won’t need for a few months. 

4. Grab Everything That Catches Your Eye

Once you are in the store, your first order of business will be to do a sweep of the store and grab everything that catches your eye. Do not stop to inspect items more carefully or try something on, as this can be done once you have browsed their entire selection. Thrift stores usually only have one of most things, and if you wait to take something, it might be gone by the time you come back. Grab everything that you think you might like while you have the chance. Then, take the time to try things on, inspect them closer, and narrow down your options to those items you really want to buy once you are done browsing the store. 

You will need to master the art of the scan. Thrift stores can be overwhelming, and it is easy to get caught up spending time sorting through stacks of clothes only to find that you’ve spent 30 minutes in one section of the store. This is another reason why it is so important that you have a plan going in. Know what you want to purchase, as this makes it easier to narrow down your search to specific sections and styles.

5. Inspect Items Carefully

When buying clothes second-hand, it is critical that you take the time to carefully inspect everything that you are considering buying. While thrift stores generally do a good job of sorting through clothes before they shelve them, damaged or overly worn items will occasionally be overlooked. Look closely to make sure that items do not have stains, tears, holes, or any kind of damage, as you may not be able to return them even if they are defective. Additionally, be careful about thinking that you will be able to get a stain out once you get home, as there is probably a reason someone gave up on a stained article of clothing. 

Once you know how to navigate thrift stores like a pro, you will quickly learn how thrilling shopping second-hand can be, and you will discover how much money you can save by doing so. Give it a shot! And for more shopping tips, be sure to follow our blog.

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