8 Ways to Find Great Thrift Store Deals

Do you love a deal? Use these 8 tips from Domestic CEO to find what you are looking for - and score some killer steal - at second hand stores.

Amanda Thomas
6-minute read
Episode #149

I am a pretty frugal person, so for me to commit to spending money on something, I have to find a great deal of value in it. That being said, it often takes a pretty discounted price before I find value in things!

Historically, though, I never liked shopping at thrift stores. I remember my mom trying to convince me as a teenager that the jeans at the thrift store were the exact same as the jeans in retail stores - but somehow, I felt like the other kids would know that they were only $1, not $50.

Now, as an adult, I would much rather spend $1 on jeans than $50 or more! I have the same philosophy for most items in my home: the least amount I can spend on them, the better. So over the last few years, I have started to venture into thrift stores to look for deals.

Along the way, I’ve also collected a few friends who pride themselves on being expert thrift store shoppers. I’ve asked a few of them to help me come up with tips for shopping the second hand stores. Whether you are looking for furniture for your home, or clothes for your family, these 8 tips will help find the best items - and the best prices.

Make a List

There’s a commercial that runs on some local TV stations that shows a woman going in to a Goodwill to look for one item, then ending up with a cart full of stuff she didn’t realize she would find. This can so easily happen when you wander through a second hand store: you are suddenly surrounded by lightly-used items that your brain is telling you should cost 5-10 times as much as they are tagged for - so instantly, you want to buy everything in sight.

But take a deep breath and slow down. Buying too many items will not only cause clutter, but it may turn you (or your spouse) off from shopping at thrift stores in the future. My friends and I agree that a thrift store deal is only as good as how much use you get out of the item. And if you don’t find actual value in the items you purchase, you will start to feel like you only find junk at second hand stores.

To help you maintain focus and make sure that you are only purchasing items that are of actual value to you, keep an ongoing list of items that you are searching for. A few years ago I started baking, but only had old hand-me-down baking pans. I kept a list of the pans that I wanted to replace, and one by one, I found them for cheap at thrift stores.

The best part was that I even found brand new baking pans at the thrift stores! I’m guessing someone finally realized that the baking set they had put on their wedding registry was never actually going to get used, so I scored some great pieces for just a couple bucks.

Keep Your Expectations Low

It’s very easy to get caught up in the idea of finding amazing items at super low prices, so this may seem like a strange tip. Heck, I’m even promising to help you find your dream items for a few bucks, so why would I tell you to keep your expectations low?

Because all of my thrift store shopping friends and I agree that you have to go in expecting to leave with nothing, but always hoping to find something. If you walk in with the plan to just do a quick circle and walk right back out, you will be pleasantly surprised if find something that is on your list.

Having this mentality will keep you going in, and help you to eventually find your dream items - rather than being consistently disappointed, and giving up too soon.