Almost everyone has a thrift shop (or several) in the area that they live in. Many people have discovered the joys of shopping secondhand, for the unique finds as well as the great bargains. Making “thrifting” a way of life can save anyone money, regardless of his or her financial situation. In addition, buying used items is environmentally friendly. Does thrifting have to mean ratty, faded clothes that haven’t been in style since you were in middle school? No – not with the growing popularity of thrift shops and these helpful tips.
Think Beyond Clothes
Most people tend to think of clothing when they think of shopping secondhand, but there are actually many items that are available in good condition used (read: cheaper). It’s true that you can get great deals on clothes, jewelry, and shoes, but also look for housewares, books, games, sports equipment, and artwork, among other items.
Try Out Different Stores
Some people swear by sticking to thrift shops in ritzier areas for higher quality, name brand goods; others prefer an area with lower overhead as they are more likely to have a booming thrift store market. Some stores carry only trendy, current brands and styles; in other stores, anything goes. Whether you want the latest styles or you are happier with a more eclectic mix of clothing and housewares, there is a thrift shop with your name on it. Shop different ones until you find the one that most often has the stuff you want.
Know What Not To Buy
Because of outdated safety features, other safety issues, or potential health or hygiene issues, some things are best left on thrift-shop shelves. These include:
- Cribs or other baby furniture, because you can’t be sure of any recalls issued.
- Car seats, which may have damage you can’t see on initial inspection.
- Bicycle helmets – ditto.
- Mattresses, which are best bought new and clean. Besides, mattresses generally last only 8-10 years, and there’s no way to know the age of a used one.
- Laptops and software (you may get them home to find that serial numbers or parts don’t work)
- DVD players. New versions are so inexpensive – and covered by warranties – that risking buying a broken one doesn’t make sense.
- Swimsuits and undergarments.
- Makeup: bacteria’s playground.
When you find a store you like, shop often to determine how often and which days merchandise is replenished. Then work regular trips to the store into your schedule to find the largest selection and the best deals. Also, shop when the seasons change – people often go through clothing, sports gear, and the like and get rid of what they no longer need.