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Thrift Store Shopping: 5 Tips for Getting a Great Deal

Thrift store shopping

If you enjoy stopping into a thrift or consignment store to browse or buy every now and again, you’re not alone. More than 25,000 resale stores currently operate in the US, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, and the number of open stores has increased by seven percent a year over the past two years. Thrift store shopping can be a great way to save money on the things you need to buy, such as clothing for yourself and your family.

It’s easy to get excited by the low prices and spend more than you planned, however. Don’t let the low prices convince you to bust your budget. Set a spending limit and learn to make the most out of thrift store shopping so that you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Make a List of What You Need

One way to make the most of your local thrift store or consignment store is to always go in armed with a list. For example, when back-to-school time rolls around, you may need to purchase khakis and button-down shirts for your kids. Just as bringing a list to the grocery store helps cut down on impulse buys, sticking to your list when thrift store shopping will help you avoid purchasing an item just because it was super cheap.

2. Be a Bit Flexible

You can’t always get what you want when you want it at thrift stores or consignment stores. Thrifting takes planning. If you need a specific item, such as a pair of dress pants in size 32/30, you may have to make a few trips to your local thrift store or visit a few stores to find them. You may need to start the hunt for a particular garment weeks, not days, in advance.

3. Find Out the Store’s Sale Days

Save the most by shopping the sales at your local thrift store. Some stores use a color-coded tagging system and will mark items labeled with a particular color 50 percent off one day, in an attempt to clear those items from the floor. Other stores may offer special discounts on slower days of the week or offer discounts to certain groups, such as seniors or students.

4. Try Before You Buy

Unless your favorite resale store offers a generous return policy, you’ll want to try on any garments before you buy them. Make sure the item really fits. If it doesn’t, be sure it’s something you can easily alter before you commit to buying it. Also check out the quality of item. Look it over for stains or tears. Also look to see if the item is dry clean only or washable. If it’s dry clean only, any savings you get will be eaten up by your cleaning bill.

5. Compare and Contrast

Make sure you’re actually saving money at the thrift store by having a general idea of what an item would cost new. For example, some designer garments cost hundreds of dollars, but a dress from a discount store can cost $20 new. Twenty dollars is a great deal on a dress that originally cost $200, but not so much on a dress that originally cost $30.

It’s also important to remember that just because something is super cheap compared to its original price, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford it. Along with a list of items you need, set a maximum price you can pay for each item, so that you stay within the limits of your budget.

Image source: Flickr

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