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How to Thrift like a Pro: 11 Vintage, Thrift and Secondhand Store Shopping Tips

Let's be honest, shopping secondhand can be a bit overwhelming if you don't know where to start. Lucky for you, we consider ourselves professionals in this area and have learned a lot about how to make shopping more like hunting for treasure and less like sorting through people's used stuff.

Weather you are exploring thrift, consignment, flea markets or vintage shops, these 11 tips will help you make the most of your secondhand shopping adventures!

Tip 1: Make a Thrift List

Creating a shopping list before you head out can help make your shopping experience more focused and less overwhelming. Jot down specific items you're looking for, such as a vintage denim jacket, wide leg light wash jeans or a set of ceramic mugs, to guide your search and keep you on track. The more specific you get the harder the search, but the better reward once you find it! 

Tip 2: Go Handsfree

Free up your hands for easier digging through racks and shelves by going hands-free. Opt for a crossbody bag or backpack to store your belongings, allowing you to navigate the store with greater flexibility. 

Tip 3: See Potential

When browsing through the store’s treasures, it's essential to see beyond what meets the eye. Envision how thrifted items will fit into your wardrobe or living space. Consider their versatility, fit, and potential for customization to make informed purchasing decisions. Visualizing how each item will complement your existing wardrobe can help you curate a cohesive and personalized collection.

Tip 4: Add to Cart, Edit Later

Nothing haunts you like the vintage you don't buy! Don't let hesitation hold you back from snagging potential finds. As you browse through the store, add items to your cart (or fitting room, try on pile, etc) without overthinking. You can always edit your selections later to prioritize your purchases. Remember, secondhand stores items are often one-of-one, if you walk away there is a chance someone else will snag the item you want and who knows if you'll ever find it again. This approach allows you to seize opportunities without missing out on unique finds. 


Tip 5: Wear Something Tight

In stores where fitting rooms are unavailable (most thrift stores and some small boutiques or flea markets), wearing tight-fitting clothing can be a game-changer. This allows you to try on items over your clothes in the aisles, minimizing the need for a fitting room and streamlining the shopping process. Whether it's a form-fitting tee or leggings, opt for clothing that allows you to slip items on and off with ease.


Tip 6: Rainy Days

Take advantage of rainy days to shop when there are fewer shoppers. With less foot traffic in the store, you can enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful shopping experience. Embrace the serenity of rainy days and indulge in leisurely browsing, knowing that you have the space and time to uncover hidden treasures.

Tip 7: Sales & Rewards

Keep an eye out for special promotions, discounts, and rewards programs to maximize your savings. Many secondhand stores offer coupon days, sale colors, and loyalty programs that can help you score great deals. Whether it's a percentage off your total purchase or a buy-one-get-one deal, these offers can make your shopping experience even more rewarding.

Tip 8: Shop All Sections

Don't limit yourself to just one section of the store. Explore every aisle and department to uncover unexpected treasures. From clothing and accessories to home decor and furniture, each section offers a unique selection of items waiting to be discovered. Take your time to browse through each area, keeping an open mind and embracing the thrill of the hunt.

Tip 9: Skimming Fabrics

Feeling the texture of fabrics is a valuable skill when shopping secondhand. Run your hands over clothing, linens, upholstery, and other textiles to assess their quality, weight, and durability. Look for natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen, which are known for their softness and longevity. Pay attention to the condition of each item and trust your instincts when evaluating its quality. When in doubt, don't be afraid to google something to learn more on the spot!

Tip 10: Bring a Bag

Bringing your own reusable bag shopping is not only practical but also eco-friendly. Shopping secondhand reduces waste and minimizes your environmental footprint, so why not extend that practice and eliminate single use shopping bags while your at it! 

Image from Baggu - one of our favorites for secondhand shopping!

Tip 11: Alter, Clean, Mend, Upcycle

Transform secondhand items into personalized treasures by altering, cleaning, mending, and upcycling them. Whether it's tailoring clothes to your body, repairing minor flaws, or repurposing items into new creations, these techniques allow you to breathe new life into thrift store finds. Embrace sustainable fashion practices and make each store treasure uniquely your own.

With these 11 tips in mind, you're ready to take on your next shopping adventure with confidence and creativity. Happy secondhand shopping, or as we like to say, happy treasure hunting! 

Do you have more secondhand shopping tips to share? Leave them in the comments!

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