Whether it is gifts, clothing or décor you’re looking for… make a list! Write down what birthdays are coming up along with ideas jotted down beside that person. If you’ve cleaned out your closet, and you know you need dress pants, white/neutral coloured tops, or a pair of flats, write it down. I guarantee you will get distracted walking through a store filled with gems, or junk for that matter! Having a list will bring you back to why you’re there and refocus your attention to what you need rather than what you want.
Have available on your phone, pictures of the room you have in mind to decorate, items that have inspired your décor, or pants you’re trying to find a matching shirt for. Once you’re out looking around, it’s much harder to remember the exact colour you’re trying to match off the top of your head.
Do not go with your children….or your partner for that matter! You need to have a clear headspace and at least an hour to wonder through your thrift stores. If possible, hit up a location that has more than one store on it to allow you to take full advantage of your time! Ex. Appleby line, Burlington, there is a brand new StyleEncore and a brand new Value Village.
You already know you’re in a second hand shop, so you know this item has already lived another life before you. Take the time to test the zipper, check the stitching or any other closing mechanisms. Give the item a test run in the environment you plan to use it. Sit on it, bend it, open it, turn it on, wear it, or play with it. Often the return policy at thrift shops does not match that of big box stores, so don’t wait until you get home! Although, some big chain thrift stores do take returns.
It makes a difference if you ask the sales personal when they typically restock the shelves with items, or when they offer special discounts on their items. Even while you’re at the cashier, ask them about the company’s policies, how long they keep items on the shelves, where do their items come from, which days to they offer special discounts or if they offer any rewards programs like stamp cards.
Social media can also work in your favour. Add yourself to the second hand selling groups, or download apps like Varage Sale or Kijiji to look for items in need. Don’t be afraid to post an “ISO” (in search of) add…you would be amazed at what people have been hoarding and happy to get rid of! This is also a great place to sell your own items to see them live another life. Most thrift stores have e-mail subscriptions, add your e-mail to hear about sales or new inventory. When ever Once Upon a Child has a sale, or winter coat inventory blast, it’s a great way to know ahead of time.
This last tip might seem contrary, but if you just stop in to your local stores to see what they have more often, you will actually buy less. You will get to know your way around the store and begin to see what items have just found their way to the shelves and what items have been sitting there for months. If you can, check out your local second hand shops often and get to know their inventory.