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Thrift Store Tips You Need to Know

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This post has been updated as of 3/04/2024.

As a minimalist and a zero waster I’m a big fan of thrift stores. What’s not to like? Thrift stores are full of used clothes, furniture, art, cookware, used everything! However, sometimes a visit to the thrift store can be hit or miss. More miss depending on what you’re looking for and if you’re willing to upcycle something.

I have been looking for a large piece of art to accommodate a wide wall for quite some time. I would occasionally peruse the art section at HomeGoods and longingly look at the $200 art pieces. Unfortunately, my champagne taste and beer pocketbook do not allow me to spend that much money on an art piece. So I procrastinated. procrastination is something I’m very good at.

After leaving the wall empty for several months I walked inside my local thrift store after making a donation. I happened to find a large wall piece for under $10…and it just happened to have the TJ Maxx sticker on it. I picked up a few other really nice art pieces for pennies on the dollar. Home Goods closed their online store, but you can still find Home Goods items on TJ Maxx. After multiple thrift store finds here are a few of my favorite thrift store tips to make your trip more productive! Happy Thrifting!

Thrift Store Tips You Need to Know

1. Visit the thrift store on off-hours

If you Google the store you plan to visit, it should tell you the peak hours and days. Visit the store on lower traffic days. Don’t shop at a thrift store on a weekend if you can help it.

visit thrift store off hours

2. Bring cash and/or a checkbook

Some thrift stores do not accept credit cards. You can avoid leaving your thrift store find behind by having cash on hand.

bring cash checkbook thrift store

3. Bring your own shopping bags

Thrift stores usually have flimsy plastic bags and sometimes no bags at all, so bring your own reusable bag.

bring reusable bag thrift store

4. Hit multiple thrift stores on the same day

Thrift stores have different sorting schedules and floor times, so have a list of nearby thrift stores if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

thrift store finds

5. Visit the Thrift Store Off-Season

Autumn is an especially good time to thrift because they receive more donations in the fall, as people are preparing for tax season.

visit thrift store off season

6. Know what NOT to buy at a thrift store

There are some items you may not be want to buy at a thrift store, such as the following:

    • Mattresses (bedbugs). Nuff said.
    • DIY painted items. Who knows what kind of paint someone used.
    • Small appliances you can’t test in the store.
    • Antique dishware may contain lead. So be careful.
    • I have bought upholstered furniture from thrift stores, but after the bedbug epidemic, I am very wary now.
    • Halogen lamps. Do you remember those old dorm room halogen lamps that would set fire to paper if it got too close? Yeah, don’t buy them. They’re considered a fire hazard now.

dont buy used mattress thrift store

7. Have an item in mind

Don’t go aimlessly without a plan. If you walk in and see the ugly pastel dishware, it may curb your creativity. You may find a dish in the thrift store that would be perfect to decorate with if you spray painted it. It could have the perfect shape, but a hideous color.

buy wood furniture thrift stores

8. Be Prepared

Carry a small screwdriver, a few sets of batteries if you’re looking for toys, and measuring tape. The most common sets are triple As, double As, D’s, and C’s. Don’t trust your eyes if you’re looking for a piece of wood furniture.

batteries and screwdriver thrift store toys


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on my favorite thrift store tips and hacks. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please share with me in the comments or on Instagram

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