It’s the perfect time of the year to get out and do some thrift shopping. When visiting a thrift store, you may think the process is like any other store – walk in, browse, and buy what you want. To a degree, that’s the case. However, there’s much more to the process than just getting the best prices and having the ideal experience.
No matter what you’re shopping for, it’s always a good idea to know a few rules of the game. At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we are more than happy to help answer any of your questions. Before you leave, ask yourself, “How can the thrift near me really help me meet my goals without breaking the bank?” Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you.
#1: DO Ask What Color Tag Day It Is
One of the best things about Goodwill is that you can get discounts. However, those discounts are not just on the already low sticker price. You’ll also get discounts based on the color tag. Yes, each item has a specific color tag assigned to it.
You’ll see red, yellow, green, and blue tags. It’s a way for the company to track how long items have been in stock. Some days of the week, various colored tags will be a substantial discount – sometimes as high as 50% off. You definitely want to shop during those bargains.
#2: DO Shop First Thing in the Morning
The best thrift shopping happens early in the morning (sometimes there are even a few lines waiting). That’s because that’s when the most merchandise is out and ready to be purchased. The store’s shelves are typically stocked the evening before, including items that may have just come in. Get there first if you want to have access to the most goodies.
#3: DO Check the Calendar Online for Special Discount Days
Another tip for success with thrift shopping is to check out the calendar on the Goodwill site for your area to find out what discounts and deals may be available. For example, you’ll learn about any specific daily special that is available – that could be a significant percentage off specific items or types of products. These change often. It only takes a minute to check the website to find out what’s on sale. Then, plan your trip accordingly.
#4: DO Bring Your ID if You’re Military, Student, Teacher, or a First Responder
Many people don’t realize that having that ID on you could mean additional savings if they are in one of these groups. It may be just one day a week or specific times during the month, but it’s still likely to be an option to help you save money! It’s just Goodwill’s way of saying thank you and giving back to the community.
#5: DO Bring In Your Own Donations
In some situations, bringing in a few donations to offer could be a good way to secure another discount. It may be a way to get a tax write-off, too, depending on who you donate to (like a Goodwill store). The bottom line is the more you bring out of your home to donate, the more room you’ll have to put your new finds. If your wardrobe is older and tired, bring those clothes in and find a fresh new look for yourself!
#6: DO Bring a Friend with You
It’s always a bit more enjoyable to bring a friend with you when you are doing some thrifting. That way, you can bounce ideas off of each other and talk about the great deals you find. This is also a fabulous way for you to encourage others to reuse and donate items instead of tossing them into the trash. Encourage your friends to have some fun thrifting this weekend!
#7: DON’T Be Afraid to Ask Questions
It’s rare that the team knows much about any of the items for sale in store. However, you can ask questions and get to know the sales team. Do you need to find out when items will be stocked? Are you interested in learning more about special discount days? Just ask. There are always friendly people available to help you. That goes for pointing you in the right direction of what you’re looking for or checking out specific information on a product. If that information is available, they are sure to share it.
#8: DON’T Assume It Will Be There Tomorrow
When visiting a thrift store, you simply cannot assume that the clothes or furniture you are interested in are going to be there for very long. It is quite likely, in fact, that someone else will pick up the item. For that reason, be ready to make a purchase when you arrive. In some situations, it may be possible for you to make that purchase and return to pick up the item, such as a large furniture piece if you need some help.
#9: DON’T Buy Items Without Inspecting Them First
Oftentimes, thrift stores don’t have the manpower to go through and inspect every item to make sure it is in good condition. That’s why it is up to you to look over each item before you make a purchase. That is especially true when no returns are allowed. It only takes a few minutes to look over the item to know its condition before buying.
At Goodwill, however, we inspect every item before it goes out on the shelves, so you can rest assured you aren’t buying something that’s broken or unusable. And if we happen to miss something, bring it back in with your receipt for a refund, simple as that.
#10: DON’T See It Just as It Is
One of the best ways to use thrift store purchases is to turn them into something else. That old chair may be pretty boring the way it is right now. However, if you take it home, clean it up, add a bright color of paint to it, and then place it in the right area, it could turn into a decorative piece of art or your child’s favorite place to read a book. Consider items based on what they could be, not just what they are!
#11: DON’T Pay Full Price for Basics You Can Find in a Thrift
Perhaps you need a suit jacket for your 5 year old for a wedding event you have to attend. Chances are good he’ll grow out of it before he can use it a second time. Why spend hundreds on it when you can find one at the thrift store for less? The same goes for school uniforms, dress shirts, and leggings – many of those basic, must-have items are already here!
#12: DON’T Forget to Shop Often
One of the nice things about thrifting is that the experience changes every single day. That means there is always an opportunity for you to find something fabulous tomorrow, even if you did not today. What’s more, don’t forget to ask the sales team when the best time to visit is during the week. Many times, those early weekday mornings are the perfect time to visit. You don’t want to wait until the weekend when everyone else has time to visit.
Shopping and saving money can go hand-in-hand when you know how to take advantage of thrifting. The more you visit, the easier it becomes to find just what you are looking for to add to your home.