How to Shop a Thrift Store


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Many of us have a certain mindset about thrift stores. Clothing from the 1970’s and the smell of the entire place is like old man. Not really an appealing sounding place to shop is it? But in reality thrift stores can often be very nice and really have some gems. The next time you are out shopping, stop at your local thrift stores and see if you can find these little thrift store jewels.


Thrift stores are an excellent place to look for books. Many have them priced at less than $1. For that you can stock up for an upcoming road trip or build your little one’s library with great books. A bonus is that many books donated to a thrift store weren’t even read so they are in excellent shape!

Once you are done with your books you can always keep them in your library, otherwise you can upload them to Paperback Swap where you can get credits to get another book, for free!


If you look past the 40 year old outfits you might actually be able to find something really cute, maybe even brand new. It seems that many of the shirts at thrift stores are fairly outdated but you can find some really cute skirts, dresses, and pants. Men’s dress shirts also seem to be in abundance so if your man has to dress up for work this would be a great place to get this wardrobe!

Craft Supplies

Craft supplies seem to be in endless supply at a thrift store, and you can grab bits and pieces for new crafts for less than half price of what you would pay at a regular craft store! Make sure to check for sewing patterns and sewing notions and also fabric. Those seem to be in abundance at many thrift stores.

Kids Toys

Kids toys can be really expensive and thrift stores always seem to be overflowing with them! You can save 75% off the new prices of toys by finding them used at a thrift store instead, and often times you can find them in excellent shape. Your kids won’t even know the difference.

So next time before you drive right on by that thrift store, stop in and see what kind of bargains you can find. Make sure you ask the store about any special sale days or special savings cards they might have to save even more off your thrift store finds!

What is the best item you’ve ever found in a thrift store?

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

28 thoughts on “How to Shop a Thrift Store”

  1. Hello,
    I have found a nice bike, and a file cabinet in perfect condition at second hand stores before. Thrift shops are awesome! I like shopping for office supplies there, as well. Once in a while, I come across a bunch of paper/notepads/binders, etc that are brand new! Thank you for this post on promoting thrift shops!
    Also, I am a member of, and it is a fun organization. There are millions of books available for swapping. If anyone wants to sign up, you can use my link below! 🙂

  2. I always get ALL of my books from St. Vinnie’s… they have a HUGE library of organized (by author and/or category), I have managed to get almost all the Stephen King books in hardcover for about $2/ea, must better than $25 each and really, who reads most books more than a few times?? We also got our washer and dryer from a thrift store three years ago for $100 and they still work fine…. about a billion years old, but who cares haha

    1. That’s awesome! I can’t believe you got such an amazing deal on your washer and dryer! That might be the best thrift store find I’ve ever heard of, LOL

  3. I love finding diamonds in the rough at thrift stores. My best find was the most adorable, brand new blue plaid toggle coat from Lands End (with wooden anchor buttons) in my 3 year old’s size. The original price tag on it said $75.00, yet the thriftstore price tag was marked at $5.99 (a steal at that price even for Lands End!), but it happened to be the color of the day so I got it for $2.99! That’s also where I stock up on girl’s shoes for my daughter, sometimes buying a size or two larger if they’re a good deal in anticipation for the future. I swear some of the shoes have never been worn. I’ve built most of my books collection from thriftstore fines as well. There have even been a few items, if they’re still in great shape, we’ll consign and actually make more than we paid (we are careful to donate many of the items back if still in good condition too). I don’t worry about it for her, but one of my silly fears since I live in smallish college town is that someone I know is going to donate a bunch of clothes, and I’ll end up buying quite a few of them and they’ll notice me wearing their old clothes and think it’s strange. Silly, I know, but I over think things… 🙂

    1. Jennifer, when I was younger we lived by a church that had some kind of thrift shop inside of it. Parishioners would donate their clothes and then they would sell them to the public. There was a girl in my grade who was always about a size bigger than me who went to that church and had a lot of money (and nice clothes!)and I can’t tell you how many times I went to school in my thrift store clothes and she would say “Oh that used to be mine, you must have bought it at the thrift store”. That has ALWAYS stuck with me, so I know what you mean. That said, I think it was a character building experience for me. And I look back on it now and I’m not at all upset about it.

      1. I have the same fear! My friend passes on 90% of her toddler’s clothes to me for my daughter and it is all name brand, adorable clothes. The only thing is EVERY time I post a picture on FB if C is in one of the outfits, my friend comments “Oh I remember that outfit! LOL” or “What a cute outfit!” etc. I have always thrifted and looked for hand me downs and stuff. You wouldn’t know that 95% of my house was second hand in some manner or another, but I don’t see why it’s necessary to comment about it. :/

  4. Christmas decorations are really cheap at the thrift stores. I also usually get all my wrapping paper and ribbon for next to nothing. If you buy in the summer, and have a place to store, it is a really good deal.

  5. I love the thrift store. I’ve gotten designer clothes for next to nothing! A Jones NY tshirt for $3. The one I go to have 4 colors at 50% on Sunday so that’s my day. I’ve gotten shower curtains, knickknacks, shoes, clothes. I love spending next to nothing on nice things!

  6. I just moved temporarily into a rental until I buy a house later this year. I wanted a tv for the bedroom but didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars. I found an older Sony 27″ TV for $20. It weighs about 100 lbs so I will not move it when I move again later this year. I will try and resell locally for $20, leave it behind if the landlord wants it or donate to the thrift store for domestic violence.

  7. Always fine great treasures!! But recent finds a kid drum set regularly $100 drum set from toys r us and it’s $9.99!! And a backpack full of xbox stuff for $30! Over $100 regularly!!!

  8. A few years back I was a single parent with little to no income. I have shopped thrift stores all my life, even as a kid. During this season of life they were vital for my 11 year old son and I. I purchased near.y 80% or more of our stuff there. Took curtians and pulled out stitches to resew to fit our wkndiws and such. Purchased my clothes there, coats, shoes and all our books. I have scored some amazing deals over the years and taught my son, and many others the value of shopping at these stores. My Husband and I make a date once a month to go thruft store shopping on a Saturday morning. As well as my son and I go one day a month together (he turns 18 in 3 months lol).. I teach young married ladies, young mothers, and just young people in general how to shop these type stores… It is amazing to pass it along!!

  9. I shopped one time with my friend at Salvation Army store. I found a woolen blanket that some one didn’t want. Brand new it was a bargain for $20.00, it still had the original packaging on it. When I got home I looked up the factory online this particular blanket had a price range $140.00 to $200.00. Faribault Woolen Mill Co–Faribault MN. It pays to shop Thrift Stores.

  10. I dont want to brag but I concider my self quite the finder at these stores. One of the ways I shop for clothing is of course if I like the color, but I often just feel each one and only pull out to look at them if I like the feel of the fabric. I know if it doesnt feel good I wont wear it, if the color isnt my type or design, so I dont waste more than a few seconds on it. Also I can tell by the quality by the feel and often I have found wonderful brand.
    I am really into the newer styles of color blocking, I am now experimenting with some smaller sizes of cuteness, and cutting in on side block with a dress I found perfect colors. If this works and looks right I am onto another wonderful way to use used clothing.

  11. I have to add another note, I do love looking through the purses. I am willing to spend up to $20 to $30 if it is a Coach or Kathy, or something leather and I am crazy about it. But in general my highest price is to go is $5.99 to $12.99 I do try to focus on the tags that are half price but have on 3 diff. times I gave into the higher dollar. I figure if I get tired of them I can prob. sell them online for the same price at least.

  12. My house is almost 75% thrift store and my wardrobe is 90%. You need to go on a regular basis and find out when they restock. I have found clothing brands that I could never afford in the retail market. I keep an eye out for the brands that fit me well

    1. This is a great point. You can’t expect to get the really good deals just popping in once a year. You have to treat it as a game and scavenge often!

  13. I shop the little kid’s section to get winter coats for my Cairn Terriers! Depending on the size of the dog, anywhere from 6 months to 2x fit nicely if you don’t get anything with buttons and cut the sleeves off to the length of their front legs. Sweatshirts are especially good and warm. For little boy dogs, use scissors to cut out a panel for their “man parts.” Besides the fact that this can cost as little as a $1 each (compared to purchased dog coats that are WAY more), you can have multiples on hand to toss in the washer when they get them wet or snowy or muddy.

  14. My house is mostly furnished from thrift stores and yard sales. 90% of my wardrobe is thrift store finds. Just picked up a pair of pants at Salvation Army store for $1.

  15. I have bought several good dress suits for my husband at the Salvation Army store. One of which was a Michael Kors suit that was brand new and fit him perfectly. I knew that it had to be brand new because the pockets were still stitched together!

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