Tips to Up Your Thrifting Game!

Buying clothes, furniture, accessories, music, and books secondhand is much better for the environment and community! It often saves you money too since thrifted prices are drastically reduced! I am a huge thrifter, and a large majority of my wardrobe is either bought at a secondhand store, thrift store, or yard sale. I think it is so important to support small businesses or even chain thrift stores because they often have a community outreach program and accept donations to help those in need. My friend Kiera gave me insight into how the fashion and consumerism industry wastes so many products they sell. If products don't sell or they are recalled, they are often destroyed and then thrown away. They are usually not allowed to be donated to an organization to be used by people in need. Finding clothes or items you like at a thrift or secondhand store is so much fun because every item is one-of-a-kind, and no one will be able to copy your exact style. I view it as a treasure trove in which you never know what good finds you'll discover while shopping or perusing the store. I have a lot of thrifting experience, so I hope these tips I use will help you in your thrift adventures too or encourage you to start!

Every item has its own story!

  1. 1. Don't be afraid to size up!

    People often only look in their usual size they wear and stick to that certain section. Break this habit and don't be afraid to look below and above your usual size because some items run smaller or larger depending on how they're made. Also, sometimes people donate clothing that has gone through the dryer and shrunk a size or two. I love looking for oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts because they are super comfy for a more casual outfit or for pajamas. Tucking an oversized t-shirt into a pair of jeans with a unique belt is a simple and fashionable look. You never know what you'll discover by looking in other sizes!

  2. 2. Look in the "no size" section

    People always miss the "no size" section, but I have found so many cute items by looking here! It is usually located before the extra small or extra large section, so before the certain section of clothing starts or after it ends. Items with tags missing or no marked size on them are placed here, so it is a free-for-all for finding items. If it looks like it will fit you, try it on! You never know if it will be an awesome find!

  3. 3. Look for name brands

    Name brand items go out of style often in store, so people are likely to donate them to a secondhand store. I have found brands like Victoria Secret, PINK, Hollister, Forever 21, Aeropostale, Charlotte Russe, Maurice's, GAP, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, and G.H. Bass Co. at thrift stores. You just have to look for the logo on the clothing or the tag on the item to see if it is name brand. It may be a little higher in price due to its name brand, but it is significantly less compared to if you would have bought it in store. Name brand items are good quality and will last you a long time, so I usually find it worth it to purchase them because no one will know you bought it at a thrift store!

  4. 4. Don't be afraid to shop in the opposite gender's section

    This is a huge tip! Oftentimes, people are embarrassed or feel awkward to wander into the opposite gender's section. I have overcome the fear of going into the men's section because I've found some great finds there! I love to look in their sweatshirt, t-shirt, and flannel sections. Guys' sweatshirts are much more comfy than girls' typically. Guys' t-shirts can be used as oversized t-shirts, and they often have really cool graphics on them. Overcome that fear of opening up your options to the other side of the store!

  5. 5. Look for coats!

    Many people miss the coat section, but there are often really cool finds here! I have found North Face and Adidas jackets before, with some of them being barely worn or new with the tags still on them. I also love looking for vintage jackets, such as leather jackets, denim jackets, corduroy jackets with fur trim, and peacoats! They are worn in and give a really cool touch to any outfit! Look in all sizes in this section too!

  6. 6. Raid the CD and book section!

    I don't know about you, but I love CD's and records! I have a ton of CD's in the center console of my car because they are so easy to pop in during your commute. These items are usually cheap in price, and they often have old bands and singers that are classics. My personal favorites are Michael Jackson, old rock bands, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Green Day, and more. Also, their book sections include a little bit of everything. You should be able to find a book in your favorite genre. I love Nicholas Sparks novels, self-help and motivational books, and young adult fiction novels. Books typically range from 50 cents to $2.00 in price, depending on if they are hard cover or paperback. Look around!

  7. 7. Don't be afraid to DIY glassware & decor!

    Glassware and decor usually only costs a few dollars, if even that! There is a section of the store in Goodwill and Community Aid for glassware, decor, and small furnishings. Using spray paint to upcycle decor for your house is so simple, like the picture above. I've bought a plain white jewelry holder with hooks and spray painted it metallic gold to hang my long necklaces on in my dorm. Painting the bottom part of a glass dish or bowl with acrylic paint adds a pop of color to accent your room. I used mine as a dish for jewelry and makeup in my room at home. I painted the bottom of mine teal since my whole room is painted teal. Look up simple DIY's like these on Pinterest, YouTube, and Google. My favorite YouTuber who upcycles thrift finds is Hermione Chantal. Here is a link to her channel:

  8. 8. Go through the shoe section, sometimes you can find name brands

    I also love to peruse the shoe section, especially for boots and heels! You want to make sure the shoes look gently used and still in good condition. I have bought a pair of BearPaw winter boots and a pair of sparkly heels I wore to homecoming my junior year of high school at thrift stores. It only takes a few minutes to check the shoes, so it's something I usually do before I leave or check out. My friends have found name brands such as Uggs, Doc Martens, Converse, and Vans. I'm still on the lookout for a vintage pair of Doc Martens at a thrift store! Just make sure to bring socks with you when thrifting to try the shoes on over your socks to ensure they fit before purchasing them!

  9. 9. Look for hair scarves!

    I love looking for belts or thin fabric scarves to use as hair scarves in the accessory section of thrift stores. They usually only cost 50 cents or $1.00 each, and they spice up any outfit! I love tying them around my head as a headband or around my ponytails. Ones with colorful patterns are my favorite! They add some color to any solid shirt or dress, and serve as an easy hairstyling hack. Just be sure to wash them on gentle before wearing them!

  10. 10. Distress or cut your own jeans!

    So many of my friends rave about how they buy cheap jeans at thrift stores and distress and cut them themselves. I went thrifting with my friend Kiera on Saturday, and she bought a pair of American Eagle jeans that looked barely worn. She only paid a few dollars for them, and she planned to cut them herself. She said you don't feel bad if you mess up on them because you only spent a few dollars on them. You can look up tutorial videos on YouTube or a step-by-step guide on Google. You can distress to give a "ripped jeans" look or cut them as capris or shorts and fold them over a few times. Give it a go for a cute distressed look or cheap!

  11. 11. Bonus Tip from my friend Kiera - Always look over your items before purchasing them!

    Make sure to check over the entirety of your items before purchasing them to ensure there is nothing wrong with them. Check for rips, tears, stains, damaged areas, or stitching coming loose. If it's something you can't fix, I would suggest putting it back and finding another item you like instead. You don't want to spend your money on something that is damaged or stained!

I hope these thrift tips can help you up your thrifting game next time you go with friends or by yourself for some "me time!" Like I said, I just went thrifting with my friend this past Saturday, and we found some awesome stores! I'll list some photos and locations of my favorite thrift stores near Millersville and the ones we discovered yesterday!

1) Uncle Funky's Thrift Store - 48 E Main Street,  Ephrata, PA 17522

2) Revive Thrift Store - 54 Main Street, Ephrata, PA 17522

3) Fashion Cents Consignment - 255 N Decatur Street, Strasburg, PA 17579

4) Community Aid - 31 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, PA 17603

5) Goodwill - 121 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, PA 17603


Here is a photo of my thrift finds on Saturday:

A vintage white patterned sweater ($10.00), a navy blue Forever 21 turtleneck sweater ($5.50), and two patterned hair scarves ($1.50 each).


Well... what are you waiting for? Go out there and get your thrift on!

HCXO, Rachel

All images courtesy of Google Images and Rachel Ritchey