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Thrifting Tips for the Beginner


thrifting tips for the beginner

I’m just going to get this out there.  Thrifting consumes a lot of my time.  Give me a free day and I will thrift all day long.

Most people love it or have no real interest in it.  Chances are, if you clicked through to read this post titled “Thrifting Tips for the Beginner”, you have some kind of interest in it.  It’s definitely a way of life and by that I mean if you’re into it, it consumes your life (in the best possible way, of course).

This post has been bouncing around in my head for some time now, and I’ve been trying to put together some kind of process that happens when I thrift.  I have a few shops that I usually frequent, but I went into a new to me, true thrift shop a week or so ago and it all clicked.  There are different levels of thrifting, and in order to not become totally overwhelmed you must know where you stand.  When I walked into this thrift store, I didn’t feel overwhelmed because it wasn’t my first time, but I know that if it would have been my first time I would have walked out faster than I walked in.

thrifting tips for the beginner

When I say different levels of thrifting, I mean there are different levels of thrift stores and it’s important not to get in over your head when starting your thrifting journey.  I think there are quite a few people out there that have interest in thrifting/vintage shopping but don’t know where to start.

For someone just starting out, this store above would not be a good first experience.  As you can probably guess, the loot in this store is very, very cheap and that’s because it is not curated.  This store accepts everything (junk included) and that makes it harder to shop.  There is no way you can see every item in this store.  (This was only one aisle – there were several aisles that looked like this.)  This store is better for the intermediate level thrifter that has several thrifting trips under his or her belt.

Thrifting Tips for the Beginner

A beginner thrifter will want to start with the curated thrift shops.  These are going to pop up first in google search when you search ” (your city) thrift shop” or “(your city) vintage shop”, etc.  These shops will be more expensive, but you can train your eye better here.  There will be more “good” finds here, so you can decide what you like and what you don’t like.  Most all of the items from my bookshelves below were found at a “curated” vintage shop (this one, actually) and I paid more than I would have at the junky store pictured above.  I’m not saying every single item at a curated thrift shop will be buy-worthy, but when a store has a theme, it makes the experience much more enjoyable, and the good stuff is much easier to see.

thrifting tips for the beginner – Once you find the curated shops around town, you can start honing in on what you like.  This advice is for the real beginner, but walk in like you know what you’re doing.  Make a quick walk around the store making note of what caught your eye and then go back to the beginning and spend a bit more time at each section. I usually focus on furniture/big pieces first because I convince myself that someone else is going to buy something while I’m in the store if I don’t claim it then.  ha.  After I assess the furniture pieces, I start looking at the knick-knacks.  This is where it gets fun.

– When you find something that gets your attention, pick it up.  Touch it.  Ask yourself why you like it.  Look at the price.  What’s your first instinct on price?  Do you have a spot for it in your home?  All of these questions will tell your gut if you should buy it or not.

– If the price seems steep but you really love it, ask yourself if you can live without it.  If you cannot (and assuming it is somewhat rare that you cannot live without something), buy it.  If the price seems steep, but it’s not going to kill you to leave it, don’t buy it.  This is a personal thing, but I like to leave it and then go back a few days later.  If the item is still there, then I usually buy it but if it’s not, it wasn’t meant to be.

– I think the most important advice I have to offer is to ask yourself why you like something.  Does it look like something else you’ve seen?  Does it seem one of a kind?  Train your brain to know what it likes and why you like it.  Other than that, thrifting frequently will help the process.  Items go so fast in thrift and vintage shops, so if you want the good stuff, you must do it often.

I know there is so much more advice to share on thrifting for the beginner.  Share below in the comments!

thrifting tips for the beginner



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2 comments on “Thrifting Tips for the Beginner”

  1. These are great tips for me to consider since I am wanting to thrift shop, but I haven’t. I plan to start very soon, so thanks for your insight!

  2. These are very useful tips. Before I go into a vintage/retro store I have a plan and I ask myself ‘what is it I need?’ It helps me stay focused so I don’t walk out with something completely useless.
    Thank you Claire.

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