Thrifting Tips From A Thrift Store Employee

I have been working at a thrift store for over four years, meaning I know a ton of information on how to have a great experience thrift shopping. With some tips and fixing common mistakes that can be easily avoided, you will have a more enjoyable and rewarding thrifting experience. If you are looking to step up your thrift game, read these tips.

  1. 1. Look over each item thoroughly before buying

    A portion of clothing donated to a thrift store is unsellable due to stains, rips, pilling, and other blemishes that people will not pay for. Some damaged pieces still slip through to the sales floor despite employees diligently checking each item. This is why it is important to examine each item of clothing before deciding to purchase. 

    The most common places for tops to have flaws are the armpits, collar, the back, and the sleeves if it is a long-sleeved shirt. Feel the armpit area to spot damage caused by deodorant or sweat. If you are looking over a sweater, run your hand underneath the fabric to find holes. Hold the entire item in the light to find any stains or discoloration. 

    Between the thighs, the bottom hems, the belt loops are the most common places where pants become damaged. The thigh area sees the most wear because people’s legs are constantly rubbing together. Look around each bottom hem for rips or dirt stains. Check each belt loop to see if they are intact since this is also often missed. If any item of clothing has a button or zipper, make sure all of them are there and working.

  2. 2. Look in every clothing section

    This is a popular tip, but it's recommended often for a reason. It's important to search every section of clothing because you can find unique items anywhere. Men’s clothing, such as button-downs with funky prints and graphic tees, has become trendy for everyone in the past few years. You are most likely to find unique oversized clothing within the men’s section of a thrift store.

  3. 3. Plan when you shop

    Thrift stores are constantly putting out new items so it is important to shop often. Many thrift stores offer discounts on weekdays for senior citizens, the military, and students. They also reduce the price of their oldest merchandise every week. If you plan on being a frequent thrift shopper, be familiar with your store’s discount schedule.

  4. 4. Make sure everything fits before you buy it

    Most thrift stores do not accept returns so it's important to try on everything to make sure it fits. If your thrift store does not have dressing rooms, wear tight clothing so you can try on items over your outfit.

  5. 5. Do your research on clothing brands and fabrics

    Some fabrics are more durable than others so research before shopping to look for the most sustainable, eco friendly fabric. Linen, cotton, hemp, silk, cashmere, and wool are the best fabrics. The worst fabrics are polyester, acrylic, rayon, and nylon for containing harmful chemicals. 

    There’s a variety of brands found in a thrift store, from Walmart to Michael Kors. Do research beforehand to see what brands have the most value and are the highest quality. If you plan on reselling, also research to see what brands sell the best online.

  6. 6. Go to different locations

    If your local thrift store never has any fashionable clothing, try different locations. Thrift stores depend on the community to donate their merchandise so the surrounding area influences what will be for sale. You will find more items if you branch out your thrifting to multiple stores.