These Insider Secrets Will Help You Score the Best Deals at the Thrift Store

Thrift stores are known for good deals. Except for a few things you should never buy, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Savers are hotspots for amazing bargains. But what if we told you there are ways to score even better thrift store deals and save even more money?

Next time you head to Goodwill for some sensibly-priced shopping, keep these thrift store secrets in mind.

1. The tags tell you secrets

thrift store

Keep an eye on the thrift store sale schedule. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 When is a $5 shirt not a $5 shirt? When the color of the price tag says it isn’t. Thrift stores such as Goodwill often run sales on merchandise with a specific tag color, according to one fashion blogger. Depending on the color, the discount could be up to 50%. Other thrift stores use different methods, but like Goodwill, they have regular discounts based on the information on the tags.

Next: You might uncover a $165,000 painting.

2. There are diamonds in the rough

colorful vase with flower on wood table and sofa in livingroom

You never know what gems you might find on your next trip to Goodwill. | ben-bryant/Getty Images

It’s rare, but it does happen: A donor unwittingly drops off a seemingly worthless item that is nearly priceless. We’re not saying you’re going to find a $165,000 painting for pennies on the dollar, but finding treasures can happen. Just make sure you’re not repurposing something worth more than you paid for it.

Next: You won’t believe the ways location matters.

3. Location matters, but not the way you think it does.

A sign of City of El Monte, California

You never know where you might find that bargain-priced designer handbag. | Ringo H.W. Chiu/Getty Images

It’s true that one of the secrets of thrift store shopping is to hit up a nice neighborhood for nicer items. Yet you might have just as much luck away from the ritzy addresses.

According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, thrift stores in smaller towns often rely on out of town shipments to stock the shelves. So you’re just as likely to find a Fendi handbag in Beverly Hills as in San Bernardino.

Next: Consult your computer.

4. The internet is your friend…

Woman shopping online on tablet

The internet makes it easier to find new thrift shops. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

Tired of hitting up the same thrift store over and over? Well, the internet is here to help you.

We know Google can give you plenty of answers, but at least one website caters specifically to thrift store bargain hunters. The Thrift Shopper searches for resale shops based on your location and links to websites for each store.

Next: Speaking of websites…

5. …in more ways than one.

Hands holding credit card

You can even do your thrift shopping online. | iStock.com/Popartic

Does perusing the shelves for your personal gem sound too labor-intensive? As always, the internet is here to help.

Online thrift store ThredUp lets you shop by price or hone in on designer items. Schoola takes your donations and gives the proceeds to the school of your choice.

Next: Use your senses.

6. Don’t shop blind

Head to the thrift store with a plan in mind. | John Moore/Getty Images

If you head to the thrift store just to peruse the shelves looking for hidden gems, then you’re doing it wrong. It might be fun shopping that way, but it’s not productive.

The blogger at Bless’er House advises shopping with a plan — and a keen eye. Going to the store with a plan of action is the best way to score thrift store deals.

Next: Time it right

7. Know when to visit

calendar

The weekend might not be the best time to hit the local thrift shops. | iStock.com/Kwangmoozaa

You’re free on Saturdays and Sundays, but that’s not the best time to hit up the thrift store, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady. For one, your local thrift store is likely packed with fellow shoppers on the weekend. Not only that, but most donations come in on the weekends.

If you’re looking for the best selection, go early in the week, after weekend donations are processed and on the floor, and early in the day before the selection gets picked over.

Next: A ride that won’t be so fun.

8. Don’t get taken for a ride

thrift store shopper

Make sure you’re not paying too much for used merchandise. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Deals are rampant at thrift stores, but not all deals are great as they appear. Just because something seems like a thrift store find doesn’t make it a deal. Getting something for 50% off is great at most retail stores, but not at resale stores.

Ideally, you should never pay more than 20% of the full-price retail cost. A t-shirt that sells for $20 new shouldn’t cost you more than $5.

Next: Another way to save.

9. It pays to be a member

Savers thriftstore

Stores like Savers have membership programs that let you save even more. | Savers via Facebook

If thrift store shopping is part of your regular routine, consider signing up for the membership programs. The Super Savers Club at Savers thrift stores provides exclusive offers and email alerts. Club Goodwill Rewards has a points reward program and exclusive sales only for members. Joining the clubs is one way to make the thrift store deals even better.

Next: Switch it up.

10. Ditch the chains for a change

thrift store shopper

Boutique thrift stores often have more hidden treasures. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Goodwill, Savers, and The Salvation Army are the heavy hitters in the resale arena. As Vibe notes, boutique resale and consignment shops are the best bets for unique, high-quality items. The big boys like Goodwill have better selections and better prices, but the quality can be lacking.

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