Thrift stores have undergone a renaissance in recent years. While people with tight budgets and vintage lovers long have known thrift stores are the best place to score a deal, the rest of America seems to just be realizing the charms of the secondhand shop. Today, one-third of American women surveyed by clothing reseller ThredUp said they’d shop for used apparel. Millennials are leading the charge to Goodwill, with 30% saying they’d shop secondhand, compared to just one-quarter of Gen Xers and baby boomers.
Settling for gently used items has numerous advantages. You can save money, keep stuff out of the landfill, and maybe help support a charity as you shop. But if you’re not used to scoping out the shelves at your local Salvation Army, it can be hard to know where to begin. From what stores to check out first to how to find the best deals, here are 12 tips for shopping smart and saving money at thrift stores.
1. Location matters
The nicer the neighborhood, the nicer the thrift store, as a general rule. While you can find gems (and junk) at virtually any secondhand shop, stores in wealthier areas often have higher-end items than those in less well-off areas. So think about where the richer people in your area live, and then hit thrift shops there.
“You want to know where affluent people live because it’s those affluent people who tend to donate good stuff to thrift stores and take good stuff to consignment shops. These are people who tend to buy expensive things and then turn them over at a high rate,” Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar explained in a blog post. One downside of shopping at thrift stores in the tonier part of town, though, is they often have slightly higher prices.