I have been in and around the thrift store business for most of my life. The evolution of thrifting has changed in so many ways, but the biggest changes is with the stigma. Thrift stores used to have a negative connotation attached to them and visiting a thrift was not for the price savy customer searching for a deal, or a unique fashion item. No no! It used to be the last place that a smart shopper would be seen. With the introduction of technology, many customers are seeing and hearing about thrift stores and the treasures they offer. So I’ve decided to share some inside thoughts on how to maximize your thrift store experience, no matter which store is your favorite.
Most thrift stores stock items daily. That unique, cool, desired item may be placed out for sale on Tuesday and by Wednesday many people have seen it, considered it, and looked it over. If you want to have a first look for those items, you have to come often. Some stores rotate inventory fairly quickly so even waiting for an item to go on sale could lead to missing out. Go often to conduct your hunt and be prepared to act on your find.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DIG
Because thrift stores receive so many unique and unusual items, not everything fits on a shelf, hanger, or display. As such, these cool and unique items may be tucked away in a corner or underneath something that is not of interest. Some stores sell items in bulk or by the pound and digging with intent is required to be successful. In the clothing racks, items are usually categorized by gender and type (for example, ladies shorts). To find that special summer wear, be prepared to look!
UNDERSTAND THEIR TURN
Many thrift stores stock items certain days of the week. If a store ends their oldest sale items on a Sunday, then they start with their newly stocked items Monday. I find it best to wait until a few days of stocking to get your best chances of success. By Wednesday (in this scenario), many different items are out and ready to be discovered. By the end of the week, those items have been seen by other thrifters so learn the turn and try to come in the middle of the stocking process.
SIGN UP FOR VIP, SPECIALS, OR TEXT
Thrift stores will discount in an effort to rotate older inventory to make room for new inventory or to inspire customers to visit. Customer love to get coupons or specials to make a great deal even better. If your local thrift store offers a text club, VIP program, or some form of special notification you have to take advantage of this and make your experience even more of a success. Many stores are offering coupons or specials electronically, so there is no reason you can’t jump on their list to get notified of that special flash sale, weekend discount, or even VIP birthday offer!
KNOW THE RULES
Due to the nature of what thrift stores sell, it is difficult for many to offer a return policy. Without formal inventory processes, the store’s management has limited resources to confirm your reason for returning a particular item or even confirm the actual item is what they sold you. Learn their rules and respect them. If they don’t offer returns and don’t offer a fitting room, then be prepared to experience some misses. If they offer a fitting room take advantage of it. Many electronic items are difficult to test and warranties are not part of a thrift store’s offering. Learn your store rules and understand the reasons for them.
Customers who love to thrift, love to have fun. They love the thrill of the hunt and the euphoria they get when they find something they have always wanted, or something they never knew they wanted but ran across it. The beauty of a thrift store is that there is no way to know what lies inside until you go in, check it out and have some fun with it. And following the previous 5 suggestion will only add to that!