With some planning, the essential tools, insider knowledge, and the right attitude and an energetic spirit, these shopping tips can aid in a great thrift shopping experience.



  • Map out your day and route.
  • saleList-earlyBirdArrive early! (Expert thrift shoppers are early birds.)
  • Make use of online directions and maps.
  • Use GPS on your phone or in your vehicle.
  • Arrange for possible hauling of large items. See Delivery section below.
  • Check the area weather.
  • Find out when your favorite stores receive or process new merchandise out on to the sales floor. (Ask for a knowledgeable salesperson or manager.)


Rest & Energize

  • Bring beverages and snacks. (You can peruse more freely if you are not hungry or thirsty.)
  • Plan for rest and bathroom breaks.
  • Don’t stress. If you can’t find an item or miss a sale on your route, believe that it just wasn’t meant to be. There will be another bargain for another day.



  • Compile a measurements list of items you want to purchase.
  • If considering large or furniture items, record the dimensions of the space where the new item will be accommodated.
  • Compile a list of clothing and shoe sizes for you, family members, and friends you are shopping for. 



  • Keep a measuring tape with you and/or in your car.
  • Carry a notepad or notebook with reference pictures. 
  • Bring  plenty of small bills and change. Sellers may not be able to break large bills, especially at the beginning of a sale.
  • Carry hand trucks for heavy objects.
  • Small boxes, bubble wrap or newsprint for breakables
  • Blanket or padding for furniture protection


Measurements & Dimensions

  • Make note of desired dimensions of pieces you are looking for.
  • Compile a list of measurements of items, spaces, and obstacles you may encounter moving the new piece to its new location such as doorways and stairways.


Inspect Carefully

  • Find out when your favorite stores receive or process new merchandise out on to the sales floor. (Ask for a knowledgeable salesperson or manager.)
  • Inspect furniture carefully. Sit on chairs to test for comfort, loose joints or wobbly legs. Test doors and drawers to check for any sticking. Look for broken parts or damaged or missing hardware.
  • Inspect clothing for missing buttons, broken zippers, tears.
  • Factor repairs into the price of the bargain.



A piece should have “good bones.” Design, structure, and quality should be sought first. Finish or upholstery can be changed. Consider how a piece would work if you shortened its legs or removed its drawers. Imagine how paint, trim, new buttons, new handles, or a slipcover could give the item a fresh look and feel.



  • A fun, good natured, mutual back-and-forth attitude gets you a lot further with dealers than a negative, attacking stance.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a reasonable discount when you know an item has been in the store and/or up for sale for a while.
  •  If a particular item strikes your fancy and the seller is unwilling to negotiate the price at the beginning of the day or sale, ask for a contact number so that you may call back and check to see if the item is still available later in the day. Sellers may be more willing to dicker when the sale is wrapping up.


Store Policies

  • Inquire when and how often stores receive or process new merchandise out on to the sales floor.
  • Ask for a knowledgeable salesperson or manager.



If a store does not offer delivery for large pieces, you will need to arrange your own. Bring your own truck or ask the store for delivery service recommendations. Most stores will allow you to keep your purchase at the store for up to a week until you can arrange delivery.