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How to Thrift Like a Pro 

With the holidays coming up, you’re bound to spend copious amounts of money on at the mall. Stores lure us in with “unbeatable sales” that are never that impressive. This year try saving some money. Go thrifting. 

There are three big names in thrifting: Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Savers. Savers also goes by Unique and Value Village. Personally, I prefer the Savers family. In my experience, the stores are bigger.

Thrifting is not as simple as it seems. You can’t just walk in and expect to find vintage Levi’s. You have to hunt. Here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve collected over the years. 


  • Go on a discounted day. Goodwill assigns a rotating “color tag of the week” that is 50% off. Salvation Army has 50% off every Wednesday. The Savers chain has 25% off on Mondays. and 50% off on holidays, like President’s Day. You also get a discount for donating. Sale days may vary by region.
  • Spend a significant amount of time at the store. It’s best to go sort through each hanger to catch hidden pieces.  
  • Don’t be afraid of sections you wouldn’t normally shop in. Men’s sweaters look like trendy ones from Urban Outfitters. Little boy’s pants fit like mom jeans. Experienced thrifters hide pieces they plan to come back for in other sections. So, it’s likely to find a blouse in the pajama section. 
  • Try on everything! The return policies at thrift stores are sketchy at best, so be sure you know how each piece fits before you leave the store. 
  • Take a cart full of clothes to the fitting rooms. It’s likely you’ll only come out with a few pieces. Some things look good on the rack but fit awkwardly. 
  • Check clothes for signs of wear. For tops, check the armpit area. For bottoms, check the crotch/inner thigh region. Sweaters shouldn’t look pilled. Check for holes, stains that are unlikely to come out in the wash, and loose threads. 
  • Keep an eye out for pieces that need just a little bit of fixing. It’s easy to buy a vintage t-shirt and crop it. Shortening a plaid skirt takes a simple stitch or iron-fusing tape. It’ll look straight out of the mall but be half the price. 
  • Make good relations with the workers. They’ll let you in on future sales. They set aside desirable pieces or give you the first look at new clothes.
  • Don’t be disappointed if you come out with nothing. Some days are great, some are not. While these tips maximize your chances, it really comes down to luck. 


With the current holiday season, there’s constantly sales at the thrift store. What are you waiting for? 

Freshman at JHU, from Maryland
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