My thrift shopping secrets.

I thrift, therefore I save. Lots and lots and lots. But, for me, it’s more then just saving piles of cash – it’s about the hunt, the thrill of the chase and satisfying my constant desire to be wearing something new, cute and fashion forward.

Like this top combo…

The tank and the necklace were both from a local thrift store.

Here are my tips on making the most of your thrift shopping experience. And thanks to the Volunteers of America for sponsoring this post. They gave, Jess and I a $50 gift card to shop to our heart’s content. The goal? To find as much as could for under $50.00.

1. Give yourself plenty of time and bring a friend.

Thrifting is an adventure. It’s more about the thrill of the hunt then anything else. You’ll find yourself immediately overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff and you just have to dive in. So, you need time. Give yourself at least an hour and a half. And bringing a friend ensures you have someone else to help you sort through your cart to “edit” what you really need and what you should just leave behind. When we left the store Jess and I agreed, we could have spent at least another hour and she was amazed at how much fun she had. Not being a thrift shopper at all this was her “first time.”

2. Be safe.

I have never, ever had any instances that made me feel uncomfortable in the thrift stores. In fact, quite the contrary. I see old men shopping for books and suburban housewives looking for school clothes or families who have no other option but to shop here. Either way there is a sense of community at the thrift stores. With this said, I do follow a few rules. The first, I never look male shoppers in the eye. I keep to my own business and let them keep to theirs. Also, if the kids are with me, I keep them within ear shot always. The thrift stores in Ohio aren’t too big, so this is easy.  They also know that if anyone, male or female, talks to them–then they have to come straight back to me immediately.

3. Go frequently and hit your favorite sections.

To really find the best steals, you have to hit your favorite thrift store at least once a week. I know this sounds like a lot, but once you pass the adventure phase of #1 and become more seasoned, you can run in and run out in less then 30 minutes. My favorite store is the Volunteers of America (VOA) on Indianola in Columbus.

It’s on my way home from work and I can stop often. Once inside, I go directly to my favorite sections. They are: colored pants. That’s where I found these puppies for $.99.

That picture doesn’t do them justice. They are vintage 80’s and perfect with everything.

Another favorite section: Purses and scarves. That’s where I found this silk scarf for $1.50 and it actually had an original tag on it for $191.00

Kids books. I always find incredible books here and you can’t beat the prices. Most books are .50 or .90.

Look what I found on our shopping trip with Jess.

I also hit the skirts and dresses and finally, the athletic gear. Everyone throws this stuff away because keeping their New Year’s resolution or diet is so challenging (my theory anyway). So the athletic gear donated is typically barely used, if at all.

And then I always, always make a swing through baskets because you never know what you’re going to find. Like this beauty,

Each of you will have your own favorite sections. These can be things you know you need or things you just love. Either way, stick to the same stores and hit your favorite sections frequently. And sweet Lily, who joined us (she’s my thrift shopping prodigy and a little fashionista) found a Care Bear.

4. Look for sales.

The VOA marks everything half off in the store on the last Tuesday of every month and tomorrow, every item in every store will be 50% off to celebrate National Thrift Day. And even on none sale days there are always tags marked off. For a whopping $50.00 we found most of the above and everything you can see in this basket. Jess found a scarf and a pink jacket (not pictured). Also, check out the other basket I found. You can’t tell, but it’s bursting with stuff.

Needless to say, I am in love with thrifting and have a hard time paying full price for anything now. Especially with three children to cloth and equip for school and life…I hope this helps! Have you discovered the power of thrifting yet?




18 Responses to My thrift shopping secrets.
  1. Lara Kretler Reply

    Do you count Once Upon a Child and Clothes Mentor as thrift stores? I love those to death, but have never ventured further into the world of thrifting. You are making me want to try it, though!

    • alaina Reply

      Yes, Once Upon a Child and Trader Tots are still on our list. In fact, that’s THE only place I shopped for Benjamin during his toddler years. The other thrift stores are becoming more main stream now, so you should try! But, one good thing about Once Upon a Child and others – they save time. Pre-sorted. And when it comes to the kid’s stuff, I’m usually in a hurry.

  2. Marcia Reply

    Love this. I, too, have been thrifting for years and recently took my granddaughter (about to enter kindergarten and an incredibly choosing dresser) to a local thrift and got her 17 items of clothing for about $28. A real bonanza.Love your top in the pic.

  3. Tiffany Washko (@TiffanyWashko) Reply

    I LOVE Volunteers of America! My fave is their Grove City store. I live far away from it now but I still drive there on occasion. I hit 3 of their stores in one day once. ;) I did most of my shopping for BlogHer at VOA and I do pretty ALL the back to school shopping there to.

    • alaina Reply

      Ooooh… I haven’t been to the one in Grove City. I will go! Thank you!

  4. Jen Reply

    I think I’ve mentioned here before that I love thrifting, or op-shopping, as we call it in Australia. I’ll have to get my shit together and photo some great finds I’ve had.

    • alaina Reply

      You should!

  5. Mel Reply

    I too love thrifting. I completely understand two things that you mentioned in your post – I too LOVE the thrill of the hunt AND because I’ve become so good at finding cool things, I now have a hard time paying full price for anything. Happy thrifting!

    • alaina Reply

      You, too! Thanks, Mel.

  6. Sheila Reply

    I wish I had better luck thrifting! For whatever reason, it seems like thrift stores in Southern California are way overpriced! The last time I went to a Goodwill store I happened upon a used Ikea vase priced about $2 higher than a new vase at Ikea. Ha!

    • alaina Reply

      I can believe it. Not all states are equal when it comes to thrifting. Come to Ohio and visit! And we can go together! Love Ikea, too.

  7. twistedlola Reply

    Love this! 99 cent pants! Man…I need to score me some of those!!!

    • alaina Reply

      Everyone needs a .99 cent pair of pants, right? ; )

  8. Rachel Reply

    Love this!! I started thrifting about 10 years ago with some girlfriends when we all lived in Phoenix. I have since moved back to California, and my sister and I try to get together once a month to check out our favorite store!! My best find yet was a pair of 7 jeans, with the original tags on them that were brand new AND my size!!

  9. Berny Reply

    Why don’t you look male shoppers in the eye?

  10. Rummage Hunter Reply

    Its true that thrift shops have great things to offer, i came across an awsome site to find local op shop and buy and sell our goods

  11. The Two Cent Chick (Justine) Reply

    Just found your blog and I had to comment :) I love thrifting too, and I love what you said about it not just being about saving money…the thrill of the chase is one of the best parts! Your tips are also super helpful!

  12. janet Reply

    Just bought some clothes for my three year old for less than $5 by thrifting online at this place called Candessa’s Closet. It is sn online thrift store my friend told me about cause I’ m broke. Check it out cause the items are new and used and great quality. A great place to shop for single moms like myself. Enter Store

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