Thrifting 101: Thrift tips for the busy shopper.

{Source: Stephanie from Those Tricks}

It's just after five-thirty on a Tuesday afternoon. You've packed up your things and left work (or school.) Your head is spinning with all of the tasks you need to complete - mundane, ordinary things, like picking up milk from the market and stopping to get gas and swinging by the dry cleaner to fetch your favorite pink dress that you accidentally spilled chocolate syrup on. There's also the pile of work you brought home and your boyfriend/husband/cats that demand your attention. Earlier in the day you had thought about going thrifting, but now you're worried there might not be enough time. Thrift stores are huge, you sigh. How on earth can you dig up a great find when your stay there will be so limited?  Wearily, you conclude that thrifting is just not for you.

You could not be more wrong.

It's true that the more time you spend in a thrift store, the better your chances are of making a big score. A leisurely hour (or two) of thrifting permits you to explore every little corner, from shoes to housewares to men's tee shirts and books. But you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in a limited amount of time.

Here are some tips for negotiating thrift stores with time constraints:

  • Plan thrifting pit stops: If you have a busy schedule, try to find gaps in your day when you can stop in and quickly browse on your way to your next destination. Many thrifters find it helpful to map out all thrift stores within a 50 mile radius of their homes or work. Luckily, there's a free iPhone app called Thrift Buddy that can help you out. It locates over 10,000 thrift stores in the United States and also includes store hours.
  • Be efficient: Before you enter a store, think about what you're looking to thrift and tailor your time around that goal. For example, with the arrival of spring I'm most interested in thrifting for spring and summer dresses. If I'm on a time crunch while thrifting, I make sure to immediately head for that section. I don't allow myself to get distracted by the blouses, or blazers, or anything shiny (which is a problem because I'm a magpie for sequins and evening wear.) I seek out the dresses and that's it.
  • Dress accordingly: I've noticed that I tend to lose most of my time in thrift stores while in dressing rooms. Taking off blouses with tiny buttons, or multiple layers, or tights layered with socks eats up minutes as I'm rushing to try things on. Wearing something that's easy to slip on and off, or slip clothes over, will cut your time down significantly.
  • Set an alarm: Really stressed for time? Set an alarm on your phone as soon as you enter a store. Be sure to leave yourself an extra five minutes for check out. If you haven't found anything when your time is up, don't stress! It's better to leave empty handed than spend money on something you don't really need.
Do you have any tips for busy thrifters? Do you avoid thrifting altogether because you're worried you won't have enough time?


  1. Great tips! I often feel rushed and that's why I do not thrift or shop often. Instead I go a few times a year and "load" up! I'm curious if you thrift exclusively for yourself or your children and husband as well? I'm not sure that you have ever said in a post (maybe so and I missed?). Anyway just curious.

  2. Try thrifting at stores near where you need to be - so, while you're out, you can run those errands without wasting a lot of time driving around.

  3. I love these tips! If I have a time crunch or lack of energy while thrifting, I always make sure to look at only what I want to buy. So I go straight to skirts or dresses, for example. If I have time or energy for more, I always look at other stuff after I find what I'm REALLY looking for.

  4. Great post! I would recommend taking the size of the store into account. Don't try to tackle the Goodwill the size of a football field during your lunch hour. Instead, try to find a smaller store that is more manageable in a short amount of time.

  5. Great tips. Am planning to hit the town to find new thrift jewels for a photo shoot soon. If possible take a friend to help u find that special piece you're looking for.


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