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10 Tips for Thrifting Smart

10 Tips for Thrifting Smart | This Girl's Life Blog

One of my favorite past times has always been thrifting, yard saling, and junking. There are so many names for it but whatever you want to call it, I love it.

Finding something old and making it new again or just finding something in great condition for a steal of a deal gives me that bargain high and I love a good bargain. Here are 10 of my favorite tips that I follow every time I go to a thrift store, flea market or yard sale.

1. Be fearless! Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. That goes for any place you decide to thrift at whether it be a yard sale, thrift store or flea market. Get in there, move stuff around and see what is under those cluttered items. If it looks to organized it’s likely to be picked through and pricey. Instead of a needle in that haystack you may very well find your diamond.

2. Carry cash! If you are going to some thrift stores this may not apply as much but definitely when you are yard saling or at the flea market. Cash talks and you can sometimes even get a better deal when you offer to cash and carry. Just be mindful of protecting your wallet. I like to wear a crossbody bag because I can have my purse with me and still be hands free. Same goes for pretty much any shopping trips for me, crossbodies are the way to go.

3. Be prepared! You never know when you need to measure something for your home. I carry a measuring tape with my 24/7. Yes, it’s true. You just never know when you will run up on a piece that you love. Also if you are looking for big piece make sure you have a list of measurements handy so that you have quick references. I always keep a running list of things I am searching for including their measurements or sizes.

4. Dress appropriately! This advice is more so if you plan to make a day of thrifting instead of just running in and out of one or two stores. If it’s chilly wear layers so you can loose layers if you get too warm, which happens easily. Just keep your wedding rings and the fancy dressing at home. When I go thrifting I always plan to have to dig through something and I would much rather not loose or mess up my wedding rings. A dress also doesn’t work well in bending over and getting through those goods. What would you were on your most comfortable day? Wear that!

5. Do your homework! Know what you are willing to pay for certain items. It can also be handy to know what you can purchase it for brand new or at places online like eBay. I was watching a house hunters (or one of those shows) and the couple didn’t have any furniture so that put in the bid to purchase some of the sellers used items for $7000 extra. I was like WHOA. Luckily they searched it out and realized they could buy new for even cheaper. That would have been a pricey mistake just for the simple fact that they had no idea what things cost brand new.

6. Have a home! If you are going to go thrifting go in with some ideas of things you are looking for or know spots in your home that could use a uplift. Buy items that you know you have a home for and not just buying because you like it. If I bought everything I liked I would be broke and a hoarder. haha! The only time you should buy something without knowing exactly where you will put it is if you love it and would be sad if you came back later and it was gone.

7. Ask for it! It’s ok to ask if the vendor will go any lower but if their lowest offer still doesn’t match what you will pay just walk away. It wasn’t meant to be! You want to find a great deal as much as the vendors want to make a profit. IE: If something is $200 be reasonable if you are going to offer a price, that doesn’t mean offer $50.

8. Go early! This applies to mainly yard sales and flea markets. The best deals will be found at the beginning of the sale. You might can find the cheaper deals at the end of the sale but all the best items will likely be gone. However, don’t go before their allotted time. I have had many yard sales in my years and nothing annoys me more than an early bird. I don’t mind 5 or even 10 minutes early but 30 minutes or an hour is not acceptable. If you do a lot of thrift store shopping find out when they restock their shelves so you can hit those up early as well.

9. Don’t judge a book by its cover! Look outside the ugly because paint can work wonders on something ugly. A 70s lamp can look chic and new with a new coat of spray paint. A scratched up and worn out dresser can be a gorgeous gem once painted with new knobs. Look at the bones and if the bones are in great shape then you are good to go. If something is broke then know your limits. If you know you can repair it then you might can get a even bigger steal.

10. It’s ok to walk away! The thing about thrifting is that you just never know what you might find and because of that sometimes you don’t find a single thing. Don’t buy just because you don’t want to go home empty handed. Sometimes you will find 10 different goodies, sometimes 1 awesome steal but others you will walk away with nothing.



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Maddie Stone

Monday 28th of December 2015

I tried a yard sale once before and I had very few buyers. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong, any thoughts?

Melissa Coleman

Tuesday 29th of December 2015


A successful yard sale depends on a lot of things. Whether you have a good traffic area for buyers and how you promote it are two huge things. Check out my yard sale post maybe some of those ideas will help you as well.

Kristina @ ReMadeSimple

Friday 10th of May 2013

Great tips! The hardest thing for me to do is go early...ha ha...not quite a morning person, but I'm making it my summer thrifting goal :)

Emily Maldonado

Friday 10th of May 2013

Great tips! I like the one about being willing to walk away. That can be so hard to leave with nothing but it is better than buying something you don't like. I just posted about one of my favorite recent finds, an old vintage camera I can't get that song out of my head either LOL! I'm looking forward to painting a great buffet I bought last month too.

Melissa Coleman

Friday 10th of May 2013

Just checked out your camera. Love it! Can't wait to see the buffet you are making over.


HandJ Cobb

Thursday 9th of May 2013

Great tips! I love thrifting and I always love hearing other people's tips. I was shocked by the vase, too! Great find!

Sande Sivani

Wednesday 8th of May 2013

My best thrift store find was a filthy dirty vase that was so caked with crude I could hardly tell what color it was.The vase was priced at $2.00 but I talked the seller down to 50 cents. I took the vase home and soaked it for 2 days in hot soapy water, changing the water about every 6-8 hours. I used a bottle brush, q-tips, and several dish scrubbies to clean the vase from top to bottom. After all my hard work, I uncovered a blown glass vase that ranged in color from palest blue to dark indigo. I used the vase for several years and a friend said I should take it to one of those traveling antique shows and have it appraised. I thought, "why not" so I went, paid $10.00 for an appraisal and found out my 50 cent vase was worth $800.00!!! Now, I look for cruddy junk, just because. Your advise is sound and I wish you the best luck in finding wonderful treasures.

Melissa Coleman

Wednesday 8th of May 2013

That is awesome. I can only imagine your surprise when you found out your .50 cent vase was worth so much.