Searching for the Best Thrift Finds

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know we ❤️ thrifting. Some of us have been thrifting since we went to our first garage sales as kids. Experience has taught us when to hit the estate sales and how to navigate the crowded aisles at the neighborhood thrift shop.

Secondhand shopping is a lot like treasure hunting...it takes patience, strategy, and stamina (eat a snack and hydrate!). For those of us who are new to the thrifting game, it’s easy to get overwhelmed without a little guidance. We’ve put together some tips and resources to get you on your way to thrifting awesomeness. Read on, friends!

Where & When to Shop

Thrifting can encompass anything from a garage sale to a specialty boutique. Some shops specialize in clothing or home decor, while others are huge outlets for anything you can think of. Here’s a quick breakdown on the different ways to get your thrift on.

Thrift Stores
We all know the big three: Goodwill, Savers, and Salvation Army. These are the consistent go-to shops for many thrifters. Don’t forget about the independent shops in small towns and in different neighborhoods, which are usually run by a church or other charity organization.

The best thrift store shopping days are early in the week, because most donations are received over the weekend. Be sure to scope out sales, like Goodwill’s discount days, as they restock shelves just for the sale. Don’t forget to shop off season for the best deals!

Vintage Shops
These are smaller boutiques with a more curated, high end inventory. If you’re looking for quality denim, leather, or designer pieces, head to a vintage store.

Since their stock is usually sold on consignment, visit often to find new pieces. Shopping off season applies here, too, with a slight difference. You might not get a deal on the price, but you might just score a pristine leather jacket after the winter season.

Garage Sales
Garage sales are just that: Someone sets up some stuff for sale out of their garage or front yard. These can be hit or miss, so look for the bigger neighborhood or even citywide sales.

Estate Sales
Estate sales, on the other hand, usually have the entire contents of a home up for sale. This is a great opportunity to look for vintage clothing and furniture, and of course, vinyl! Many estate sale hosts will post pictures of their inventory beforehand, so be sure to browse the site and save photos of the items you’re interested in.

The best time to head to an estate sale is early on the first day. This will ensure the best items are still available. If you’re looking for a deal, wait until the last day of the sale. Everything is usually heavily discounted, and you can practice your haggling skills!

Plan Your Thrift Trip

Whether you’re planning a thrift store crawl or hitting up a few Saturday estate sales, it’s important to plan ahead.

First: If you don't already have some stores in mind, you can create a wishlist of stores using the National Thrift Store Directory. It not only finds stores by location, you can also search by charity category!

Second: Think about what you want and give yourself a goal. Are you shopping for clothes, home decor, vinyl? Take a look at what you already own and make notes on color palette and aesthetics, so you can look for things that you will use. It’s easy to get carried away when we find a beautiful vintage coat or couture gown, so we need to ask ourselves: Will we actually wear it?

When going for a certain look - for your wardrobe or home - be sure to save some inspiration pics on your phone. You might just find the exact handbag you need to complete your dream outfit!

Finally: Don’t forget to dress for thrift shopping. Not all thrift shops have fitting rooms, especially the smaller shops. Garage and estate sales certainly do not. You want to be able to try on pieces over what you’re already wearing.

✨ Pro tip: Know your own measurements for clothing. As we all know, sizes have changed over the decades! And bring along a measuring tape to measure clothing before you buy

Recognize Quality & Potential

When you’re out in the thrifting wild, you might find pieces from luxury brands, like Halston or Burberry. You know these items are classic, well made, and use exceptional materials. Whether to buy is usually a no brainer.

However, you might come across some modern brands that may or may not age well or stumble on a brand you’ve never heard of. Sidenote: We’ve found some extraordinary pieces from now defunct fashion houses.

So what should you buy and what should you leave behind?

Quality
Natural materials are usually higher quality than synthetic ones. Look for shoes and handbags made from true leather or Italian leather. Denim items comprising 98 - 100% cotton are usually vintage and better quality. Modern denim tends to be infused with spandex and other synthetics, with less than 50% cotton.

Here are some other textiles to look for:
✔︎  Silk
✔︎  100% merino wool
✔︎  Cashmere
✔︎  Velvet
✔︎  Corduroy

In addition, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the fabrication process of the item. For example, if an item of clothing - like a blazer, coat, or dress - is lined, you can be fairly confident it is well made and will ultimately last a long time.

Potential
Not every thrift find will be the perfect piece for you. This is when you should think about the potential of the item.

If you like to craft, look at clothes or table cloths as just pieces of fabric. How could you use it in your current DIY project? The same goes for that scuffed up, solid wood table or ugly art in a beautiful frame. Think about what the item could become.

Check out our blog post about thrift flips for more ideas!

One Last Thing...

We focused only on IRL shopping here. Stay tuned for another post soon where we’ll talk about navigating the online thrifting world. In the meantime, join us in the thrift finds! tribe on Visva for more great info on all things thrifting!

Enjoy this thrift-inspired playlist, curated to get you hyped for your next trip to the thrift shop.

See you next time, and happy thrifting! 👋