The times we live in seem to be more expensive than ever. As prices for everything from food to utilities continue to rise, even the normal discounts at stores that we shop in on a day-to-day basis feel a little pricey. For many of the basic household needs that you want to manage, you might find that there are better deals available at your local thrift store.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable shopping in thrift stores, because they believe that these locations carry nothing but dirty items and junk. However, although there are aplenty of dismal looking thrift-stores out there, there are also many great well-organised stores that can help you make the most out of your money.
Ultimately, the truth is that thrifting is fun, cheap, and great for the economy. It provides funds for various charities, while keeping usable goods out of incinerators and landfills. If you’re new to visiting charity stores, or “thrifting”, here are some tips to set you off on the right track.
Often, the people working in thrift or charity stores aren’t actually paid very well – as you might imagine. In some cases, they’re not paid at all, as a lot of charities rely on the good nature of volunteers to get by. Sometimes, charity stores are full of people trying to get a little experience for their CV, while giving something back to society.
Make sure that you’re as kind to these people as possible. Not only is being polite the right thing to do, but if you visit a thrift store regularly and you get to build some relationships with the employees, you’ll find that you end up with more than just good karma. If you have specific needs or interests, employees will helpfully pull aside the items that come in that might interest you, so you don’t miss out.
You’ll often find that many charity shops tend to cluster together in areas that offer the most traffic, for the lowest cost in terms of rent. Try to make a day out of visiting all the stores in a specific area. Since many of the major charities that run thrift stores will appeal to different kinds of donor, you’ll be able to explore a wider range of stock if you look at everything that might be available.
Just like regular stores, there are some thrift shops that offer different specials and deals, including discounts of up to 75% on their regular prices. In some charity shops, there will be certain rules that dictate which items are going to be discounted each week or month, so try to find out what the special deal is so that you know when to come shopping for your targeted items.
Remember, your chosen store might have different discounts on different days of the week, so keep an eye out all week long.
There are some thrift stores out there that are run for profit, so this won’t apply to them. However, for the rest that are run on the behalf of a charity, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the people who sponsor your chosen store. Knowing the charity that you’re visiting could help you to gain valuable insights into what you’ll find in each shop. At the same time, you might decide which stores you’d rather support more than others when you are able to take your pick between items from different locations.
Remember, most thrift stores don’t actually exist to provide cheap items to people who can’t afford to spend much on their household goods. Instead, they’re there to raise money to support the mission of their specific organisation.
Even if your main aim with your thrift-store shopping is to “get a great deal”, it pays to have a list of things that you want or need. Thrift stores are often great for people in search of office supplies, kitchen wares, sporting equipment, books, electronics, and other essentials. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of furniture, but it might take some time to find the furniture that you really want.
Plenty of people find great clothing at thrift stores, but this can sometimes be too challenging to be worth the time, as clothes are rarely arranged well, and you’ll probably struggle to find the items that you want in your size.
Finally, one of the best things about visiting thrift stores, is that you’ll find various items that can lend themselves to a range of uses beyond their original or intended functions. For instance, a suitcase might act as a coffee table, while a record crate could be turned on its side to keep your binders organised.
Rather than walking into a store with a set idea of what you’re going to get and how you’re going to use it, keep your mind and eyes open for objects that might be able to be used in an unusual and unique way.