18 Tips to Find the Best Stuff While Thrifting

I’m excited to share with you my top 18 tips to find the best stuff while thrifting. Thrifting is so fun because you just never know what you are going to find! From housewares, to shoes, to Christmas decor, if you give thrifting a shot, you’re sure to find something awesome!

What is Thrifting?

Thrifting is a small adventure in which you can treasure hunt for things that you just may not be able to afford brand new. Thrift stores are typically stocked by public donation, with used items at significantly reduced prices. From the weird and wonderful, to the practical and pretty, you can find just about anything while thrifting. 

clothing in a thrift store 18 tips for thrifting life full and frugal

Thrifting is Good for the Environment

Donating and buying items second hand is the ultimate form of recycling. Usable things that could easily be taken to the landfill are given a second life and are a huge blessing for someone new! What a great way to help keep this beautiful earth clean.

How I Developed These 18 Tips to Find the Best Stuff While Thrifting

I’ve never been one to believe that you needed a lot of money to have nice things. In fact, I have lived below the poverty level for a good chunk of my adult life, but have always had nice things. I always wanted a well equipped home, and a nice wardrobe, but buying things brand new at retail prices was just not possible for my humble budget. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Garage sales, yard sales, and thrift stores have provided me with such beautiful, good quality things for my life and home!

18 Tips to Find the Best Stuff While Thrifting

Go Thrifting with No Expectations

Be ready to be surprised! Most of the time you are not going to find the EXACT thing you are looking for. Expect the unexpected while thrifting! You’re probably going to find something awesome.

Get a Cart

Whatever takes your fancy while thrifting needs a home. Don’t try to carry things around in your arms. You will run out of room. 

Place everything you like in the cart, even if you’re not sure yet. You can decide at the end whether or not you want to put anything back. You may regret walking away from something! Carrying it around in your cart will give you time to think it over. If you really, really like it, buy it! It won’t be there next time, trust me. 

Figure Out Your Favorite Section of the Thrift Store

The linen section is my personal favorite. Bedding can be very expensive new, especially if it is made from high quality materials. I always wanted to have nice sheets and blankets for my bed because I’m very tactile. I love the feel of good fabrics. Some of my best bedding I have found has been second hand, including linen sheets, crocheted coverlets, intricate wool blankets, and hand stitched quilts. What do you like most? Hit that section first every time you thrift!

blue linen sheets life full and frugal

Map Out the Thrift Store

Some thrift stores are huge and tricky to navigate. Explore around and get a feel for the layout so you know where everything is. Don’t hesitate to ask a clerk for help. 

Check Out the Clothing Section

Whatever size you are, check out a size up and a size down. Different brands use different sizing. Vintage clothing also runs very small- sometimes 3-4 sizes smaller than modern brands.

Be sure to look thru the rack of clothing outside of the fitting room that people decided not to purchase. There may be a gem in there!

jeans at a goodwill store life full and frugal

Don’t Forget to Accessorize

Be sure to check out the belts, purses, scarves, gloves, jewelry, boots and shoes! Some of my absolute best accessories are from Goodwill, including brands like Kenneth Cole, Oscar De La Renta, and Dior.

Know Your Fabrics

When thrift shopping, it’s really helpful to know your fabrics in order to spot quality. Keep your eyes peeled for heavy cotton, linen, silk, wool, bamboo, etc. The feel of the fabric should be pleasant to the touch. For things like bedding and towels, some of the best fabrics are made in Portugal, India, Pakistan, Belgium, and Egypt. 

christian dior silk scarf life full and frugal

Think Out of Season While Thrifting

Think ahead! At the end of each season, our local thrift store often runs sales to make room for the next season. I have found some of my prettiest Christmas outfits in the summertime. Conversely, I have found some beautiful Easter outfits during the winter months.

Some of The Best Stuff While Thrifting: Gifts

Be on the lookout for gifts for upcoming holidays and birthdays while at the thrift store. I keep a constant supply of gifts in a dresser drawer at home for anytime I need a quick gift for a friend or family member. Cookbooks, spiritual books, candles, CDs, glassware, and scarves are some of my favorite thrifting finds to give away.

Thrift stores are often great places to find Christmas paper, gift bags and ribbon as well.

a dresser drawer full of gifts life full and frugal

Hit Up the Housewares and Decor Section

Mirrors, lamps, lamp shades, pottery, artwork, cookware, dishes. These are all high priced items if you buy them brand new. Thrifts stores are a great place to buy these items at literally a fraction of the cost.

Some of my favorites finds are cast iron enamel pots and pans, French press coffee makers, vintage blenders, and Kitchenaid pans.

For more wonderful ideas and tips on thrifting home decor items, check out our friend Hanna, at Home Until Heaven!

Don’t Be Afraid of a Little Dirt

Soap and water does wonders, my friends! If something isn’t perfectly clean and shiny, it doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful. Housewares, kitchen items, glassware, etc, can all be easily cleaned with some soapy dish water. Linens, blankets, and clothing can also be easily treated with a bit of bleach, white vinegar, or oxy-clean.

the houseware section at goodwill life full and frugal

Thrift for Holiday Decor

Many thrift stores keep a Christmas section all year round. Along the lines of thinking out of season, I encourage you to be on the lookout for high quality Christmas decor while on the hunt.

Christmas wreaths and artificial Christmas trees are pretty pricey brand new. Goodwill and other thrift stores are a great place to find them used. I have also found beautiful glass, and blown glass ornaments for the Christmas tree second hand. Thrifting is also a great way to find beautiful Christmas tins, serving platters, dishes, and mugs!

Keep Measurements and a Measuring Tape on Hand

If you are looking for furniture while thrifting, it is a good idea to keep measurements of what you need written down. When you need a 24 inch side table, keeping a measuring tape in your purse will ensure you don’t buy something that you don’t have space for!

the furniture section at goodwill life full and frugal

Always Be Aware About Sales

Goodwill and local thrift stores often run sales. For example, our local thrift store will run clothing sales where you can buy a grocery bag full of clothing for $1. They may even run a flash sale where every item in the store is $1. Goodwill will has tag sales where a certain color tag will be 50% off for the day. When in doubt, ask. You can find some great deals on sale days!

Check out the New Item Section

Thrift stores like Goodwill typically keep a section of “new” items. These are typically things like buyouts from a department store, or donated items that are un-opened. I’ve found some beautiful soaps, lotions, and essential oils in this section.

Frequent Your Local Thrift Stores Often

Donations are pouring into thrift and second hand stores daily. Shelves are being resupplied all of the time! Your chances of finding something fabulous are better the more you visit. Even if you only have time to look around for a few minutes.

For example, if I need to run to the bank or get groceries, I like to take a peek at a few of my local thrift stores while I’m in the neighborhood. Might as well while I’m there! I once found a set of linen sheets for $3 (a pair of good linen sheets can cost up to $250) after I did a quick bank run.

Check out one of our favorite second hand decor lovers, Stephanie at Chateau de Lalande!

the front of a goodwill store life full and frugal

Have a Look at the Cases Up Front (By the register)

The locked glass cases at the front of the store often have more “high end” items. It doesn’t necessarily mean these items are super expensive, but they may be slightly more than the rest of the store. Great finds in these cases include knife sets, jewelry, shoes, purses, and other real leather items. It doesn’t hurt to look!

Be Friendly and Gracious to the Staff

Kindness goes a long way. Friendliness when asking questions will get you a kind and honest response from the staff at your local thrift stores. They may even point out items you didn’t see, or give you some juicy insights about sale dates or days when the store is not too busy. 

What Can You Add to our 18 Tips to Finding the Best Stuff While Thrifting?

Now that we’ve shared our best 18 tips to find the best stuff while thrifting, it’s your turn! Let us know in the comments below how you find treasures during your thrifting adventures!

For more ways to get what you need or want for free, click here!

Need some fun and frugal gift ideas? Click here to get inspired!

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  1. Janel Haley

    My favorite thrifting tip is to look for oversized t-shirts or dresses that I can cut up and refashion to use as fabric for a child’s dress or even a shirt for myself. Also, sheets and curtains are an ample supply of fabric! (Basically, I look at stuff with a seamstress’s eye. Ha!)

    • Shanna

      Fabric is such a good one to look for at thrift stores! It is SO expensive brand new! Thank you so much for sharing, Janel! =)

  2. Alison Manzer

    Loved this video! Inspired to go thrifting!

    • Shanna

      So glad you enjoyed it, Alison! Hope you are doing well, sweet friend! God bless you! ~Shanna

  3. Vanessa

    I love thrifting.

    • Shanna

      Yes! So great! We love thrifting as well! Thanks so much for checking out our blog! =)


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