Quick Thrifting Guide for Newbies [Guest Post]

I asked my buddy Amy Parsons to share her thrifting expertise today on the show. Every time I see her  – her family is sporting something new that she nabbed at a fraction of the cost at a second hand store. Enjoy Amy’s Thrifting Guide for Newbies and share it!

If you’ve never shopped second hand stores I encourage you to give it a go and discover the joy of the hunt, as well as the savings. You’ll be surprised by the high quality items you can purchase there  I’m always in pursuit of filling a need, or upgrading our home goods, be it clothes, furniture or accessories. As a single income family with lots of needs and growing children, I’ve learned the “Art of Thrifting.”

Thrifting Guide for Newbies

Just yesterday, I scored a brand new-to-me purse. It’s a mint condition shoulder bag from the well known designers of The Sac. I’ll wear it with an organic cotton dress from LOLE Women’s Tunic (value: $60).  According to my online research, the two items alone would have cost close to $200 brand new. I scored them both for a grand total of around $11.

Here’s how I scored

  • purchase high-quality items for less
  • reduced my carbon footprint by purchasing second hand
  • supported local jobs at second-hand stores

Thrift Stores Have Sales

Most thrift stories like the Goodwill or Salvation Army have daily or weekly color-coded deal where you receive an additional percentage off. On a recent thrift store trip, the color of the day was blue. So anything with a blue tag or writing was automatically 50% off which is how I scored a new-to-me cardigan for less than $3.  Our local Value Village actually offers half off of anything in the store, on the last Wednesday of each month. 

[Tweet “Shop the color coded discount day at thrift stores to save more!”]

Make a List

Just like a grocery list keeps you on track with what you need to refill your fridge, the same goes for thrift shopping. It’ll keep from falling into the trap of buying things just because “it was too good of a deal to pass up.” Sometimes thrift store finds are just too fun and exciting. I may have done more than one (or a dozen) excited joy jumps in the middle of the thrift store when I find a seriously awesome score.

If you are shopping on a whim with no specific goal then you may end up with some seriously awesome deals, but they won’t meet your needs.   By far, the best scores of all are the ones that also have real purpose for you or your home.

My husband has laughed at me more times than I can count, when I admit to him that I went to the thrift store to make a donation, and then followed it up by shopping for more “things.” Some of these “things” turned out to be useful, and purchases that I still adore. But there have been plenty of times also where I got home and thought, “what a cool score,” which quickly turns too “what am I going to actually do with it, though?”

Thus, I have learned to shop with intention. Sometimes this means I shop with an actual hard copy list that I carry as I browse, or a mental list that I walk in with, in the very least.

[Tweet “Go thrift shopping with a list to stay on track!”]

Select Specialty Stores

There are an array of second-hand stores like well-known brands like Goodwill or The Salvation Army.  You can also choose from a local mom and pop shop, ministry or non-profit group depending on your town and location.

Decide which store in your area is best for clothing, furniture or children’s products. This way you can shop with an even clearer purpose.

While we can debate all day about each group’s reputation or community accountability, I personally try them all and hope their intentions are good. Anything beyond that it is out of my control.

I had a wonderful experience at the new North Decatur Goodwill this week. The employee who rang me up was not only friendly and all smiles, but he also spoke very highly of the organization and his job. Thus, I felt extra proud of my fancy dress and purse scores.  Now I’m just waiting for a good Groupon or Scout Mob deal for our next date night.

Quick Tips for Thifting:

  1. Shop with a list and clear intention.
  2. Find out what the extra deals are for each day or week, at your local stores.
  3. Score even bigger, if you make your list first, and then shop based on what deal is at which shop.

Decatur Thrift Stores

  1. Goodwill (Several locations and extra savings through weekly color-coded sales).
  2. The Salvation Army (Several locations around Atlanta and daily and weekly extra savings through color coded sales).
  3. Second Life (Benefits Animal Rescue and offers additional daily savings through coupons as well as color coded sales).
  4. The Edge (Non-profit serving the local community and offering additional daily or weekly sales).

Although Amy is a pro at thrifting, I’ve shared some of my shopping expertise and solutions here:

4 Frustrating Things About Back to School Shopping for Boys

Shop the Multicultural Back to School Products

Multicultural Back to School Products

About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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  1. I love thrift store shopping because I get super excited when I find amazing deals. But I do find myself buying unnecessary items that just sit in the closet because it was too good of a deal to pass up. I like the idea of making a list to stay on track when shopping especially with an impulsive shopper like myself.

  2. I always forget to go to thrift stores and I really need to make it one of my stops for shopping! Especially someone like me who is so picky!

  3. Catherine Sargent

    I am all about saving as much money as I can. I will have to check out our local thrift stores.

  4. Awesome tips! There’s nothing more fun that finding great deals, but it can be hard to do when you’re first starting out.

  5. These are really great tips! I love to shop at our local thrift store and see what deals they have!

  6. I always go in with a list, but that’s mostly because I shop goodwill for shows! I have to have sizes, shapes and colors that I’m looking for specifically, going from one character to the next.

  7. Thrifting is so much fun, and it’s a great way to save money. It can be daunting when you’re first starting out, though. This is a great resource for a beginning thrifter.

  8. Great tips. I’m terribly impatient with thrifting…and never end up finding good items:(

  9. Pam Wattenbarger

    I love thrift shopping. I have scored so many clothes with the tags still on them, for next to nothing.

  10. We love to go thrifting for clothes and household goods. My kids are getting to the age where they like to go with me.

  11. With having such a big family we need to save as much as we can when we can… and thrifting is seriously one of my favorite things to do!

  12. These are awesome shopping suggestions, especially for someone like me that loves saving money. They come at the perfect time too, since they are currently building a brand new thrift store close to our home.

  13. With back to school shopping in full swing I am actually feeling the sting to my pocketbook and would love to be able to find more unique items for lower prices which is a win win! My kids get stuff that no one else has and I save money and teach them the value of a dollar!

  14. I love thrift shopping. We live right by Notre Dame, and the kids are always donating awesome items at the end of the school year to the local thrift shops. We score big in the spring!

  15. I’d love to shop at thrift stores more often. Now would be a good time for me to pick up a few things for fall.

  16. I love thrift shopping. The best part is not knowing what I will find each time I go. Have found amazing deals through the years.

  17. Hands up I used to love going hunting in charity shops – I haven’t done it for ages, I really need to get back into the habit though. x

  18. I always comment on my one friend who shops thrift stores all the time. I love her finds and have always been so intimidated to go on my own but these tips are great!

  19. I have a friend who loves the sak purses. I had never heard of them until I met her. Nifty!

  20. We have upscale thrift store popping up around here, like one called Rare by Goodwill. It’s neat to see the curated items, but I enjoy the hunt and deeper savings.

  21. I love the deals at thrift stores! It helps to look for the quality items you know will last.

  22. Thrift shopping has been kind to me and my family over the years. You really can find some steals on items that would normally be super expensive.

  23. I like shopping on thrift stores here in our place. There are lots of good stuff that you can actually find.

  24. Those color-coded deals sound exciting, usually I go for a certain shade or color and that kind of thing spices up my shopping appetite. While I don’t exactly consider myself a newbie to these kinds of things I still feel like I learned a lot here, especially with finding the thrift ones.

  25. Always a list! I’m making them for grocery, target, even the pet store.