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Thrifting 101: How to Score in a Modern Day Treasure Hunt


More than two years have passed since Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released their catchy anthem “Thrift Shop.” And, while your granddads clothes might be hanging out at the secondhand store, there’s a lot more to be found than old man’s duds, broken keyboards, and moccasins (that someone else has been walking in!).

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the thrift shop is the secret of dressing well and having an amazing living space in your twenties and beyond. From affordable brand name clothing to sweet finds to fill your apartment at a price your job can actually fund, the thrift shop is the place to be.

So read on and I’ll impart my 10 tried and true tips to make you a fellow thrifting master!

1. Go often. It’s hard not to lose hope when you keep coming up empty handed at the store but going often is the best way to make a truly epic find! My best suggestion is to hit the secondhand circuit once a week at minimum.

2. Go to ALL the thrift stores. For the most part, most of us have been to Value Village. It’s big, it’s nice and clean, it’s got lots of staff BUT it also has the prices to reflect this! Really get the most for your money by going to all the thrift stores to see what you can find. From the Salvation Army to hospital auxiliary stores, these less frequented shops can become the best treasure hunting grounds! 

3. Take your time. If you want a great new dress, take the time and look through the entire dress section, including sizes before and beyond your usual size. The thrift shop is normally run by volunteers and they don’t have to time to inspect the floor the way department stores do. That means things get put away wrong, sized incorrectly and even just messed by other shoppers. So take time and hunt for your treasure!

4. Inspection is key. Again, the thrift store is BUSY. Take time to look for holes, missing buttons, broken zippers and more on clothing. Also ensure the size matches the size on the label or section you found it in. For breakable pieces, look for chips and the like. Nothing sucks worse than getting home with a great find only to find out it’s not actually that great!

5. Dress to shop. Vying for amazing secondhand finds is going to require a lot of changing. And to be honest, changing rooms at thrift stores really aren’t a place you want to spend a lot of time in. Limit the time it takes you to change by wearing comfy clothing that can be taken off (oh la la!) and on in limited time.

6. Bring cash and set a budget. There are a lot of amazing things at the thrift store, but that doesn’t mean they all have to come home with you! Bring a supply of cash as your budget so when it’s done, you know your hunt is over too.

7. Bring your phone. I’m a sucker for fashion labels and antiques, but I’m not an expert. That’s why I use my phone to search labels and makers to see if the piece I’m eyeing is worth the cash asked!

8. Travel and thrift. Want some really sweet stuff? Then hit up the secondhand shops when you travel. I’ve had some of my absolute best finds on the road and it can be just what you need to reignite your thrifting flame after a dry spell.

9. Watch for sales. I know items at the thrift store are already a great price, but sales will let your budget stretch even further! Stay in tune with what’s going on at your favorite haunts by following their pages on social media and looking for signs announcing upcoming events and sales. Also, sign up for any emails they might offer as exclusive discounts may come to you that way.

10. Hand sanitizer. Okay, so this seems a little rude, but here’s another dose of reality–things at the secondhand shop aren’t always clean. They come from people’s homes that you don’t know and most of the time they’re given a quick clean (if any) before going out on the shelves. So sanitize after each stop so you stay healthy and can keep thrifting up a storm!

And there you have it guys – 10 easy tips to make your thrift shopping adventures as bountiful as possible!

If you have more tried and true ideas or have an amazing thrift find to share, sound off below! 


Photo via Arvee Marie

About the Author

Jaycene Mock

Jaycene Mock holds her B.A. in Pyschology from the University of Lethbridge. Always a writer at heart, Jaycene previously worked as a copywriter before pursuing her dream of working with youth as a high school support worker. Allowing her creative impulses to flourish, Jaycene spends her spare time writing and running her own handmade business, Outlaw Heart. Within the next three years she hopes to see her business grow and transition completely into the school environment as a counsellor.


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