My Story: Thrift Store Junkie

contributed by Dena S.

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I am a "Thrift Store Junkie." My husband says that I can't ever pass a thrift shop without going in and buying something. He's right. I love thrift shops and rarely shop anywhere else. I worked all of last year at one of my favorite thrift shops. Let me give you some thrift shopping tips from a very experienced thrift shopper.

  • Don't limit yourself to just one or two shops such as Salvation Army, Value Village or Goodwill. Check out all the shops in your town that you can find. You will find some shops that are cheaper than other shops. Some shops have better clothing but not much in goods like furniture, household goods, yard and garden, home maintenance, sporting goods, appliances, books, etc. Others have a not-so-great clothing selection but have more books and other items. I know exactly where to go for what I'm looking for.
  • Shop at the right time of day. Although most shops bring items to the floor all day, the most productive time is mornings. Production usually starts early in the morning before opening, but 11am to 3pm is the time frame for the largest quantity of new goods coming to the floor. Serious shoppers know this and come at opening time and spend this time period in the store examining each cart or rack that comes out from production for the real deals. And I mean that they are at the doors before opening and are ready to grab what's coming out on the carts before the employees shelve anything. This is the time serious shoppers find items that they sell on Ebay or in their own small shops. So, be there at the right time for the best deals.
  • Fill your cart. If you see something that interests you, put it in your cart at that moment or it may be gone if you come back for it later. Throw everything you think you might want into your cart. When you've finished shopping, go through your cart and decide what's a keeper and what goes back. For large items that won't fit into your cart, pay for it right away or ask an employee how you can "hold it" until you finish shopping. Different places have different policies. In one store, you may only have to take the price tag off and they'll hold it until you've finished shopping. In another store, it may be the first one to pay for it gets it.
  • Concentrate and dig. Put the cell phone away and get the kids playing in the toy section or preferably shop when they are at school or at home. Some of the best deals may be hidden behind, beneath, or in an out-of-the-way place. But, it takes concentration if you really want good deals or to find that special item. Dig through that bin or look behind the stuff piled on a shelf or a rack. Many people have sorted through all this stuff, looking for something too, and have pretty much tossed things around. Also, people tend to dump the things they have decided they don't want in other places in the store rather then putting them back where they found them. So concentrate and keep your eyes open. You can very easily overlook a special item that you'll feel so jubilant about finding for a great price.
  • Ask or check for the sales promotions when you first walk in the store. Some stores do not have any discounts and all their items are priced under their competitors. Others have "colored tag" sales where certain colors have certain discounts. So, check to see what that store's promos are.

There is nothing more rewarding than to find that designer-labeled clothing item that's in style for pennies or that perfect chair for your home for just a few dollars. Have fun saving money and thrift shopping. It's addicting!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send to

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  • You can also get discounted items at eBay

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