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How to Thrift Shop: 10 Thrifting Tips for Vintage Crafters

By: Sara Raffensperger, Editor, AllFreeHolidayCrafts.com
How to Thrift Shop 10 Thrifting Tips for Vintage Crafters
How to Thrift Shop 10 Thrifting Tips for Vintage Crafters
This image courtesy of AllFreeHolidayCrafts.com

Thrift stores are one of the best places to look for craft materials because you can always make something beautiful out of something no one wanted anymore. If you're new to thrift shopping, hit play on Macklemore and read our article, How to Thrift Shop: 10 Thrifting Tips for Vintage Crafters. You will soon be the best thrifter anyone has ever seen with our thrift store tips. Never buy anything at full price again, because you know you will always be able to find it at a discounted price if you just take the time to look for it.

Some people only thrift shop occasionally while others go every single day looking for deals. You can completely makeover your home with items found in thrift stores if you know how to upcycle them and make them your own. It's important to keep an open mind and your creativity active when you're thrift shopping because you can always make something better with a bit of effort. Thrift shopping might take more effort than just buying things online at full price; however, the money you save is entirely worth it.

How to Thrift Shop

Thrifting Tips

  1. Do some research. If you want to find the best deals in your area, then you need to research the best thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. Garage and estate sales are constantly changing, so it is to your benefit to do some legwork before you go thrift shopping.

    Pro tip: Keep an eye out for signs advertising yard and garage sales. Sometimes people won't list it in the newspaper and will instead put up signs around town.

  2. Only bring cash. Thrift shopping can be dangerous when you're scoring great deals because you might be compelled to spend more. By only bringing a pre-determined amount of cash you will lower the risk of coming home with more stuff than you need.

  3. Have some idea of what you're looking for. If you walk into a flea market with no idea of what you're looking for, then you could end up spending much more than you budgeted for or looking around for hours and not finding anything. If you have at least one or two things in mind your outing will have more focus and you'll feel more successful.

    For example, if you have a Mason jar craft in mind or you saw a tutorial for a painted chair, then go to the thrift store and head straight to the home goods section. If you can't find a Mason jar or a chair you like, then you can spend some time just browsing.

  4. Ask the staff when new inventory goes out. Some stores only stock on certain days of the week or certain times of day. When you find out when the new-to-you items are shelved, then you will have first dibs on the newest merchandise.

  5. Don't be afraid to go to a tailor. One of the best things about thrift stores is that you can sometimes find high-quality clothing for next to nothing. One of the worst things about thrift stores is that usually those clothes don't fit perfectly.

    However, you don't have to leave that almost perfect jacket or pair of pants on the rack because you can take it to the tailor! Compared to the price of a brand new pair of pants, the tailor fee is probably much more affordable and you will have clothes that fit you perfectly.

  6. Keep an open mind. The possibilities are endless for every item in a thrift store. If you need a bookshelf but can't find the perfect color of wood, then think about repurposing it. You can make something completely your own with a fresh coat of paint or some new hardware.

    At the same time, however, keep a shrewd eye for quality. Decide if things can be mended or upcycled and if the cost of that is worth the price. 

  7. Learn to haggle. A lot of stores won't haggle because they're own by larger companies, but flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, etc. are the perfect places to practice your haggling skills. More often than not, the seller is looking to get rid of the items as easily as possible, so you might be able to knock a large percentage off the price or have the seller throw in another item.

  8. Go early...or really late. If you're worried about finding the best stuff, then get there when they open. However, many sellers will offer big discounts toward the end of the day because they want to get rid of everything. It's up to you to decide which is more important to you.

  9. Give things away too. Thrift shopping can all too quickly turn into hoarding. You'll soon find that your closet or garage is full of other people's things and you have no idea what to do with it all. 
    When you buy something, give away something. If you buy a new sweater, give away that shirt you haven't worn in six years. You'll feel better and keep the thrifting life cycle going.

  10. Thrift while you travel. If you're going on a trip, then make sure to stop at a thrift store or two. You might find the best sweater for winter when you're in Michigan or your new favorite shorts while you're in Arizona. A new place equals new-to-you clothes or upcycled craft materials. Plus, it makes the best souvenir that has a cool story to tell when you arrive back home.

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I like thrifting things like tshirts, buttons, mason jars and old lamp shade bases for my upcycle projects. Sometimes I find some nice crotchet projects and reuse the yarn from them. I mostly go thrifting very early if I know about a sale on a project I am working on and I always haggle if something I want isn't on sale.

I love dumpster diving, I look for things as I go down the road that are on the side of the road by trash cans, or in front of cans. I have found a patio picnic table and 4 chairs, and refinished it, it was teakwood and it came out beautiful, found a wicker end table that fits perfect by my chair just washed it spray painted it and put finished wood on the shelves as they were a little bowed. Both were great finds, there have been many others over my life time. And Free is always NICE too. Also maybe your friends have things they don't know want just lying around in their garage...you could as what their plans are for the item. If they give it to you, you might surprise them by refinishing it according to their dcor and give it to them for a special occasion, most likely they will use it. Some just don't know what to do but don't want to just trash it. My teakwood table and chairs I took picture of and wrote a thank you note now to deliver to where I got the item....we sit out daily now and enjoy it with our neighbors and friends too. Keep hunting for treasurers and enjoy refinishing them

Great article, love the tips in How to Thrift Shop, 10 Tips for Vintage crafters. I thought I knew pretty much every trick in the book when it comes to thrift store shopping, and I was happily surprised to learn a few new tips. So thank you for that. For one, it had never occured to me to go Thrift store shopping whenever we travel! What a great way not only to score some deals, but it makes for some good stories and additional memories.

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