Frugal shoppers know that thrift and resale stores bear a gold-mine of finds and deals, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Some shoppers dive right in, others get overwhelmed by the sight of racks and shelves crammed with goods.
Still it’s worth giving resale stores a shot. It’s very possible to find brand-new, tags-on clothing, designer goods and gently-used home goods for bargain prices, along with great deals on retro/vintage stuff.
Many of the thrift shops in the Northwest suburbs are clean, brightly lit, with attractive displays. Two such upscale resale stores include Community Threads in Buffalo Grove and Wings Resale in Palatine, Schaumburg, and Niles. House of Hope in Barrington is another large charity-driven resale shop worth checking out for its huge selection.
“Chain” thrift stores like Savers, Goodwill and Salvation Army have also come to Arlington Heights in recent years. While these stores can be hit-or-miss, treasures can be found here, too.
1. Keep a running list of wants/needs
Write down a list of things you need/want to help you keep an organized focus when you shop. Shopping without a list can mean money and time wasted on impulse buys or aimless aisle-wandering. Keep it in your purse or wallet, store it in your smart phone—whatever works. Plus, a list helps you to remember the little things you might otherwise forget.
2. Be open to surprise and keep an open mind:
Some days won’t offer much. Other days will offer serendipitous surprises, like Cook’s Illustrated Magazines for 75 cents apiece or 1154 Lill purse for $5. The random nature of donations guarantees surprises. Be open to the unexpected and you may find that some items discover you. Of course, it’s okay not to find a “find”. Feel free to say “No” walk out empty-handed
3. Check all around for the little things:
Don’t forget to check the accessory racks, housewares shelves or the nice items case upfront. Sometimes you can find a special treasure this way. If you’re looking for a certain item, don’t be afraid to ask.
4. Buy only what you LOVE:
When things are cheap, it’s easy to grab a bunch. Why clutter your space or closet with things that make you go ehh…Focus on buying what really thrills you, leave the rest alone.
5. If in doubt, skip it:
It’s very easy to find an outfit or piece that could maybe work, but leaves you guessing. If you find yourself asking “What do you think?” or “Where would I wear this/How would I use this” or even “Do I really need it?”—pass. Save room in your space for the things you truly need/want. Also, bypass cheaply-made, worn-out items. Spend for quality, not quantity.
6. Focus on a few collections:
Choose what you want to collect, such as vintage dishes, records, postcards, etc. Then, search for only that. Collecting anything and everything is a sure recipe for clutter.
7. Shop often and keep a schedule:
Shopping on a weekly or biweekly basis can help you get familiar with a shop’s selections. Stores tend to be freshly stocked in the middle of the week versus busy weekends. Shopping more often will also help you to know when they run special sales, have coupons, or what their special deal days are, like “Tuesdays: 20% off all women and kids’ clothing and shoes.”
8. Be prepared
Check websites or call the store to keep track of special deals/sales. Resale stores in our area do accept credit/debit, but it does help to keep cash on hand for cash-only sales or garage sales.
9. Stick to your budget:
It’s easy to overspend when things are a deal. Shop with a dollar amount in mind or use a cash envelope reserved for thrifting/garage sales. Don’t shop weekly if it will tempt you. Again, keeping a list will keep you focused.
10. Question every purchase:
Here’s the most important tip… Question everything. Do you need it? Does it flatter you? Is it your style? Will you use it? Can you really afford it? If the answers are “yes”, go ahead and buy. But if there’s any grain of doubt, see if you can put the item on hold or skip it.
Bonus Tip: Volunteer!
Beyond the benefit of getting to see the goods before they hit the floor, volunteering at your favorite resale shop is an excellent way to give back to your community. The stores will appreciate your service, and you get to help for a good cause.
Plus, it can help you be a more thoughtful with donations. Here’s a hint: Make sure your things are clean, and that there’s at least a few a few nice/in season things there. The shop will recycle/pass on anything it can’t use, but they won’t benefit if they can’t sell any of the donations.
For more tips, see this list at Sammy D Vintage.
Tips from the Thrift Talk Diva
List adapted from A Beautiful Mess Blog