9 Of The Top Thrifting Secrets [Thrift Store Tips]

If you want to learn the best thrift store tips, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to learn the top thrift store tips to help you on your next thrift.

thrift store tips

I grew up in a large family and often had hand-me-downs from family. Instead of seeing this as a negative, I saw it as a treasure hunt! I was always so excited to see what goodies I could find when we got a bag of “new to me” clothes.

This mindset spurred my passion for thrifting. My sisters feel the same way! One of my sisters always says “fashion and creating your own style doesn’t have to be expensive.”

If you feel the same way or are on a tight budget, these thrift store tips can help you out!

What Is Thrifting?

Thrifting is when you visit different thrift stores, second-hand shops or vintage stores in the hopes of purchasing items at a cheaper price. Some people also choose to thrift shop for sustainability purposes.

9 Thrift Store Tips

Here are some of the best thrift store tips to help you out.

Remember That Thrifting Is Not A Quick Expedition

If you are looking to stop in quick and come out with treasures, you should go to Target. 

Thrifting is not a quick shop. It involves looking through many racks of different colors, styles, sizes and brands. You can’t just grab two of the same product to try on to see which one fits better as thrift stores usually only have one of every item. It may take time to look through the racks and you should look through the racks carefully.

With so many items that are all vastly different, the store is bound to be overwhelming. Some brands size differently than others, so look through multiple sizes to find your right fit. With all of the products in the store, an employee may not notice if someone ditched their size 4 pants in the size 10 section, because the products change every day and are always different. So don’t be afraid to look at the entire pants section, you might find that your size is placed in another section or a brand you’ve never worn before sizes differently than you are used to.

Keep In Mind That Some Items May Not Be Perfect

You might find a super cute blouse that fits great, is the perfect color for your skin tone, and totally something you can wear to that party you have next weekend! But it has a hole in the armpit. How dare this $4.99 perfect top do this to you?!

Unfortunately, that is part of thrifting. Some people donate or consign clothes because they have too many things and need to downsize and others donate when they really should toss items instead. With the dozens and dozens of bags that come into stores every day, employees may not be able to catch every stain or armpit hole.

When you find an item like this, you have to determine if it’s a small fix you can tackle, or if it’s not worth the hassle. For example, if you are going to put several hours into hemming a pair of jeans so they fit you, is it worth it to buy them? Think about the product and what you’ll use it for. Are you hemming jeans for a night out and you will probably only wear them a handful of times? Probably not worth your time and money. Fixing a couple of stitches on a blazer you could wear at work for the next year? That is definitely more manageable.

Sometimes You Have To Use Your Imagination

Using your imagination on items is fun! Think outside the box. For example, if you want an oversized sweatshirt to pair with leggings, you could explore the men’s sweatshirts as well as the women’s.

Thrifting can be great for tons of DIY occasions. Going to a costume party? You could throw together lots of thrift store combinations to make a cheap costume. Going to a sporting event and need gear fast? You’ll find tons of t-shirts and jerseys that could be cut or cropped to be more fitted!

Being a little bit imaginative with what you find will help you create your own unique style. Cutting, sewing, combining and layering are just a few ways to turn a basic item into something special.

Is This Sustainable?

When clothes shopping in general, thrifting or not, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast fashion. Buying something because it’s the hottest trend of the moment is so easy. 

While you’re shopping, consider who often you will wear the item and if it is still cost-effective. Take for example my Birkenstocks. As someone who rarely buys clothing full price, seeing a pair of Birks at $98.00 seems a bit steep. If I spend $98.00 and wear them at least 98 times, that’s a dollar use each time they are worn. My feet have stopped growing and I will probably wear this more than 98 times. Okay, I can purchase these.

Does my brain work in a totally weird way and this makes no sense? Maybe, but it is how I justify my spending and think about shopping sustainably.

At thrift stores, it’s easy to go overboard because items are cheap. Buying 13 tank tops because they are all $3.99 is fine, but are you going to wear all of them and wear them more than once? It is okay to splurge and spend 50.00 on a special occasion outfit but practicing sustainable shopping is not only financially responsible but also environmentally friendly.

Have An Open Mind

If you go in with the intention of finding platform sandals in yellow, you are going to be disappointed often.

You can’t be looking for a super-specific item because you are thrift shopping and finding one of the hundreds of items. If you go into a shopping trip thinking, I need sandals you’ll have better luck.

When you are shopping for something specific one tends to overlook all of the things you aren’t looking for and you might miss some really great finds!  Going with an open mind and checking several sections is the best way to find treasures! It’s also great to remember that new products hit the floor every day. So shop often! You never know what your store will have next.

Find The Right Store(s) For You

There are so many thrift stores that cater to different crowds and not every store will be great for everyone. I love Plato’s Closet. I have yet to find a location that doesn’t have amazing products.  But when I shop there I know I will pay more for higher quality products. They sell items that were bought in the last six months, so most items are still up to date and trendy.

I know if I buy something from Plato’s, I won’t need to re-vamp or alter it like some of my Goodwill or St. Vinny’s finds- which is some of the fun for me. I love finding jeans at Goodwill. They have tons of styles and brands from several years, so I would look for vintage high waisted here and not somewhere like Plato’s.

Have A Plan

Before you head to your local thrift store, take a moment and make a plan. What specific items are you searching for? Make a list on your phone that you can reference. If you’re trying to put together a certain outfit and already have the pants and shoes, make sure you have a note or pictures to reference! Having a plan will help keep you focused and also keep you within your budget.

Donate Clothes Of Your Own

Before you bring home new clothes, consider going through your closet and making some donations of your own. You could also choose to sell your clothes on Poshmark or a similar app. Some stores will also pay you for your clothes!

Ask When Your Thrift Store Restocks

Ask someone at your local thrift store when they typically restock. This helps you pick which day may be best to shop when there is fresh inventory!

The Best Online Thrift Stores

There are now more and more ways that you can thrift from the comfort of your home! Here are some of the best online thrift stores.


Curtsy is an app that allows you to thrift and sell clothing, shoes and more. Whether you are looking to clean out your closet or do some thrifting, Curtsey has you covered! According to their website, Curtsy is a great way to save 60-90% on your favorite brands. When you buy something on Curtsy, you’re buying it directly from the seller- they’ll ship it to you within a few days after placing your order.


Poshmark is a shopping app that features women, men, teen and kids items at prices up to 70% off. You can shop and sell used items on Poshmark.


thredUP is an online thrift store where you can buy and sell quality secondhand clothes. You can find your favorite brands at up to 90% off! threadUp wants to change the future of fashion by eliminating fashion waste, standing up for sustainability and shopping with intention.


Vinted is a second-hand fashion community of more than 45 million members. On Vinted, you can buy and sell clothes. According to their website, Vinted is open to everyone who believes that good clothes should live long.

Shop Goodwill

Shop Goodwill is a great way to shop Goodwill online! Another big perk of shopping Goodwill online is that you can shop ANY of the Goodwill locations! You can purchase items in a manner similar to eBay where you place bids. Some items are eligible to “buy it now.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get better at thrifting?

Just like anything, the more you practice the better you get! Thrifting takes patience and a bit of luck too. If you aren’t having luck thrifting, try switching up the stores you go to and the days you go.

What should I look for in a thrift store?

When you are shopping at a thrift store, look for items you need or want. This could be anything from clothing to accessories to furniture.

What are the rules of thrifting?

There are no hard and fast rules of thrifting. Personally, I do not purchase undergarments, swim suits or hats at thrift stores.

Bottom Line

Personal style doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be as easy as just knowing your way around a thrift store or willing to try something outside your usual fashion comfort zone. I hope these thrift store tips, tricks and anecdotes help you become a better and more successful thrifter.

This post was all about thrift store tips.