I love picking up some second hand clothes, furniture and kitchen utensils. There is just nothing better than going home knowing you paid pennies on the dollar for an item or that someone's mistake is your gain.

Anyway, there are a few things I have learned from thrift / second hand shopping. Of course if you have anything to add, let us know in the comments below.

Be Aware – Know store policy for returns (if there are any), sales and what tag colors may mean. At a local Goodwill store – red tags mean the item came from Target. Bring as little as you can and keep it safe; don’t leave your stuff unattended. The government has put together a checklist for Thrift Store Safety, and don’t forget all the toy recalls as well.

Be Comfy – If you can wear shorts and a t-shirt, do it. This will allow you to try on clothes if there are no dressing rooms or it is full. Also, wear shoes that are easy to slip off and on – so combat boots would not fit that in my opinion.

Be Checking – Test EVERYTHING that you can while shopping; this includes yards sales as well. Inspect the clothes, every seam, button, zipper, snap and buckle. Look for brand name items that have a history of quality.

Be Prepared – This means you go shopping with a list of what sizes you (family) wear and bring along a measuring tape so that you can see if the waist/leg/arm is the right size as some clothes get their tags ripped off. This also includes bringing a stain remover of some sort to check if marks will come off clothes before you bring it home. Bring along batteries as well for testing electronics and toys.

Be Thinking – If furniture is on your list, know how you are going to get it home, and make sure you have the dimensions down on your list since you probably will not get a refund. Consider what kind of budget you will be spending for clothes/furniture/hardware and stick to it.

Be A Good Shopper – Find out when items are placed on the floor. Go to the stores in other towns/counties/neighborhoods for a better selection or price. It is ok to walk out of a store without something in your hand. It is also normal to go to 2-3 stores before you find what you need on your list. Don’t forget that gifts can be bought at second hand places as many of them get ‘new’ items with original stickers still on them. Be kind and courteous at all times, which includes putting away your stuff, employees/volunteers will like you better, especially if you are a regular.

After the Trip – Remember to wash or dry clean it all, even if it LOOKS ok to you, you just never know. If you are the sewing type, make a list of what needs to be altered and how.


  1. Kevin Urbina // Friday, November 06, 2009 3:33:00 PM  

    I've shopped various bargain outlets and Goodwill for decades. Once I found a suit that was so new the pockets were still sewn shut. It fit as if tailored for me and was a terrific style and color. I have that suit to this day and it was only $10.

  2. Dawn // Friday, November 06, 2009 5:18:00 PM  

    That is a great deal especially when it will last you for years. What luck!

  3. Lawrence @ CRB // Sunday, November 08, 2009 2:49:00 AM  

    You can't ever go wrong stopping by and checking out a thrift store. And, more times than not you'll be able to find something good.

  4. Anonymous // Tuesday, November 10, 2009 8:30:00 PM  

    Ohhh I just love my thrift shopping. I usually go with a friend who will give the straight scoop on whether it's hip or just old!
    I am still constantly surprised at how many "new" items are vintage inspired.
    DOnt these jokers know that you can get the real thing for pennies on the dollar.
    Ohh well more great pickings for those of us that have figured it out!
    See you, where the bargains are!

  5. Anonymous // Tuesday, November 17, 2009 9:38:00 AM  

    I've come to the conclusion that the lifestyles of my Grandparents and Parents is gone forever.

    Many people I know work several jobs trying to maintain cars, houses, etc. Most are taking out huge loans, buying new from department stores on credit.

    I used to avoid the thrift stores thinking it was surrendering to the idea that I'm poor. It made me feel like I was giving up on my future.

    Now? I think it is senseless. For me shopping at Thrift stores is more than a way to save a buck. It is a requirement of survival.

    It is a mystery to me how Free Trade agreements caused the loss of jobs in the US and Canada, to cheaper labour markets...yet none of the labour cost savings have been passed down to consumers. If anything the cost of goods continues to rise.

    Those who persist in trying to buy new on credit are running us into a "Great" depression in my opinion.

  6. Anonymous // Thursday, December 03, 2009 1:54:00 AM  

    I used to really enjoy shopping for deals at my local goodwill or value village. Lately however I have been really disappointed. They are going mad with thier pricing. I still look there first for the things I need. But often end up buying it new at a retail store for less. An example was pants for my toddler. My local goodwill had the jeans for 6.99. I bought some at a retail store for 3.50 and on sale at Pennys for 5.00 a pair. I usually find better deals at the thrift stores in Seattle than here at home.