Whether you are browsing for yourself, looking for a gift, or preparing for the holidays, thrift stores are a frugal way to meet shopping needs. Want seasonal gear? Maybe some outdoor equipment for a once-in-a-while get away? Planning right before visiting thrift stores can turn a routine shopping trip into a treasure hunt.


1. Shop for clothes during off seasons.

Down jackets, durable gloves, and rain boots can get fairly pricy, especially if you’re looking for both fashion and function. Looking for cold-weather gear during  the spring and summer is a great way to pick up some good deals in thrift stores. This is the time when most people donate or sell previous season clothes so they can refresh a wardrobe. When preparing for warm seasons, keep an eye out at your local Goodwill for gadgets like outdoor BBQ grills, basketball hoops, and swim gear.

Keep an eye out during student dorm move-out times near college campuses. These can yield a fruitful thrift store trip. Most students don’t like to travel back home with everything that has accumulated in their dorm room.

2. Keep a list of luxuries.

Kitchen gadgets, back massagers, sewing machines. Some of those items that haven’t reached the point of necessity, but could still be useful to have in the house. Storing a list on a phone or in a wallet can serve as a nice reminder during thrift store searches. Maybe a family member vaguely mentioned a luxury item. Write it down and a scavenger hunt can yield upcoming gifts.

3. Don’t settle on “Just cheap.”

Some junk can be another person’s treasure. But not everything is treasure. An item doesn’t need to be purchased just because of a low price point. A jacket may prove to be very functional, with a zip-off hood and adjustable pull cords. But if it is hideous, the likelihood of it actually being worn is very low. Sometimes spending a few extra bucks can make a world of difference in both quality and aesthetic.

4. Set limits.

Sticking to a budget is an excellent way to prioritize purchases. Knowing how much will be dedicated to household items, gifts,  clothes, and luxuries can focus the purpose of thrift stores: being economic with your resources. It can also provide a fun challenge. See how many fantastic items can be found within a monetary limit.

5. Go with friends.

Thrift stores are infinitely more fun with friends. People who can help search for specific items in the fray, who can offer feedback on potential purchases. Other people can help speed up the thrift store process. Being with friends will also turn a shopping trip into a hilarious experience, with all the wacky items that will turn up.


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