The World Of Thrifting
Welcome to my version of the beginner’s guide to thrifting like a pro. Now I won’t call myself a thrifting connoisseur, but I have been known for getting excellent deals when I do visit thrift stores. I don’t visit them very often as I tend to make a list and pick up everything for the season at once. I have been thrifting on an advanced scale since late 2016 when I moved to Japan and discovered the amazingness that is Manga Souko. For those who aren’t familiar with this store chain, it is the “Walmart” for thrifting.
Manga Souko has everything from clothing to musical instruments to electronics to books. You want it, they have it. Plus the items are in incredible condition; many with the tag still on. You might be a beginner when it comes to thrifting and probably haven’t quite figured out what thrifting is and how to maximize the experience. That’s okay because I’ve got you. I am here to provide you with the beginner’s guide to thrifting done right. If you’re ready to save some coins and look stylish doing so, stay tuned.
“I’m pretty much a thrift shop gal. Flea markets on Sundays.” Zoe Kravitz
Beginners’ Guide To Thrifting
1 Shop In Off Seasons
This is and will forever be my number one hack for thrifters who want to thrift like pros. You always need to shop in off seasons. There is a reason that stores have summer sales during winter and vice versa. They are getting rid of items that would no longer make sense or be viable for the upcoming period. Thrift stores operate in the same way.
I cannot tell you how many times I have browsed the winter wear rack during the summer and found some awesome deals. I once found a heavy yet very stylish leather jacket for half the price it was during my previous visit to the same store. You know I got on my knees and thanked God personally for that little blessing that day. So take it from me and shop in off seasons to get the best deal.
2 Know Discount Days
When I first started going thrift shopping, I’d go on any day that I was available because that was what worked best for me. While I was searching through racks, I’d see posters everywhere that had certain days marked off as 30% or 50% days. I would even see that there were specific times on those days where everything was marked down 70% or more.
I highly encourage you to find out when are the discount days for the thrift store that you’re looking to hit. You can call them or even check their website. More times than not, the same posters have been uploaded to the store’s website or Facebook and Instagram pages. Do the work beforehand and save yourself the extra money. That way you could use the money saved to get more stuff. (I’m kidding, kind of).
3 Set Goal Beforehand
Trust me when I say this is one of the best thrifting hacks I ever learned and it seriously upped my game. My first three trips to Manga Souko were eventful yes, but they took way more energy than was needed. Why? Because I had no clue what I was looking for. In my mind, if it was cheap then I wanted it.
Don’t be like me. Take an hour or two during the week before you go thrift shopping and make a detailed list of what it is that you’ll be looking for on that day. Thrift stores normally have great deals on slightly used furniture so decide beforehand. Is there a coffee table that you need? Put it on the list. Having a concrete idea of what you need will save you so much time and frustration when you actually walk into that thrift store.
4 Compare Prices
Always compare prices between stores. Even within the same store chain, prices may differ at various branches. After a few months of thrifting I discovered this after visiting another branch of the thrift store I really enjoyed going to. I happened to be browsing through a rack of clothing and found the exact sweater I had bought a week or two beforehand. The sweater was 20% less than what I had spent beforehand.
After digging through the store’s Facebook page, I realized a pattern. Certain branches had the items they sold at a much lower price than others. Since I learned this little detail, my thrifting savings have gone through the rough. I hardly ever spend more than $2000 JPY or US $20 on any given trip and never leave with less than 5 items.
I know you might be reading this and cringing at the thought of haggling with a store clerk. I would say that I can sympathize but I really can’t. I grew up in Jamaica where haggling was the order of the day. If you went to a store and thought that an item was a bit too pricey or you could find it cheaper elsewhere, it became your duty to haggle with the cashier. Eight out of ten times you would walk away paying the price you had intended to pay.
The same goes for thrift stores. It never hurts to ask for a discount. The worst thing the sales person could say is “no” and that’s okay. A large amount of the items in thrift stores were actually donated because the previous owner either bought a new item and had no need for the donated item or they were migrating and weren’t able to bring the item with them. That is usually the case here in Okinawa so I feel like haggling is truly worth it. Sometimes you end up getting an additional 5% or 10% off the item. (Even when the item is already on sale).
6 Clearance Items
This goes without saying but I will. Always and I mean always check for clearance items. The clearance rack in thrift stores might just become your best friend. Many people might be concerned that this rack normally has the stuff that no-one wants. That is just not true.
Like I said previously, stores will clear items that are no longer useful within that particular season and thus they will mark it down. This does not mean that the items are unwanted. I have gotten some bomb finds in that clearance section. One of my favourite sweaters that I wear all the time was from a summer clearance rack. You better take notes. Lol.
7 Dress Comfortably
I learned this lesson at the wrong time. The day was hot so I decided that a cute romper and converse sneakers were my best bet to beat the heat. It wasn’t until I was about to try on a few items I had found, that I realized how annoyingly inconvenient rompers could be in that moment. Now, don’t bite my head off. Rompers are amazing inventions and I love them but they are just not meant for thrift shopping.
In my beginner’s guide to thrifting like a pro I could not leave off this key piece of advice. Dress comfortably. Pull on a simple tee, some jeans or leggings, a pair of flip-flops or pull on shoes and go. You will thank me later. When you’re in thrift store changing rooms, you just want to be in and out. Don’t spend 30 minutes getting in and out of your clothing when you could be spending that time look at other great stuff.
8 Clean Out Your Car
I personally do not have a vehicle that I use when I go thrift shopping. I honestly wish I did though as I often get rides from friends who live nearby. Many times their cars are packed to the brim with children’s toys or files from work etc. This means I often do not have a lot of space, if any, for all the items I bought. This secretly makes me so mad sometimes. Granted I’m more mad at myself for getting so much stuff, lol, than anything else.
Seriously though, before you head to the thrift store, take some time and clean your car or truck out. Ensure you have enough time for that drum set or vanity that you’ll undoubtedly find. Clear your back seat so you can fill it up with all the amazing fashion pieces you never realized that you needed but now can’t live without. You’ll see the benefits of having that space in the long-term.
9 Set A Time Limit
When you have done your research, found that ideal store and are rocking your comfy outfit, it can be quite tempting to spend the entire time browsing the store. I have one word for this: don’t. It would be a shame that after all your hard work of planning and setting budgets or lists etc, you end up overspending or becoming overwhelmed.
Set a time limit for yourself and stick to it. I know it can be tempting to wander around and gawk at all the awesomeness that are thrift stores. Do yourself a favour, however, and just stick to what you need to get that day and leave. If anything, put additional items on another list and visit the thrift store another time. It takes discipline and time but it is definitely possible.
10 Come Back Again
Thrift shopping is a different kind of shopping experience. In this beginner’s guide to thrifting like a pro, I want you to understand that it okay to leave the store empty-handed and come back again. You will not always be able to enter the store with your list and leave with everything you wanted to buy. At times the items aren’t available or other circumstances prevent you from accomplishing your mission.
Learn that you can always come back again. Take note of what went wrong during your shopping trip. Figure out how to solve those issues so that the next time you do go thrift shopping, you really kill the game and walk out happy. Remember that thrifting can be an acquired skill and if you really practice, you can be named among those pros and be writing your own guide to help the lost shoppers of the world paying retail prices. (The horror). Okay, this time I am totally kidding. I shop in regular stores and pay retail price for items, when they’re on that sale. That however, is a life hack for another day.
We finally have come to the end. There you have it. My beginner’s guide to thrifting like a pro.
A few of my most popular posts are linked below. Be sure to check them out as well:
Also, I’d love to know. Do you consider yourself a pro at thrifting? What are some of your hacks and tips for getting the best bang for your buck? Did any of them make the list? Please comment below. Please also like and share this post. I’d really appreciate your support on all my social media as well.
Until next time. Peace, love and prayers.