Thrift Store Shopping Suggestions
, garage sales
, and swap meets
can be wildly addictive. I've found, however, that strategic planning can help maximize the likelihood of success. While the following suggestions are geared more towards the non-clothes segment of ultra-discount shopping, such tips apply for many situations.
Use a calendar, or get a routine going. Days off are an obvious bet, but some of the for profit
stores (at least in the NY/NJ/CT metro area) stay open until 9pm or so. For-profit stores work best under the scheduling system, since non-for-profit stores tend to keep uniform pricing. Be especially attentive to periodic clearances and what I call the "day of the week" rhythm
. One chain store
near me has $1 day Monday, furniture clearance
Thursday, etc. Clothes less frequently enter the day of the week system since clothes seem to be at the heart of most ultra-discount retailers.
Being extra nice to employees
at stores can gain you access
to the pricing rotation. Sometimes workers
even carry placards
which interpret color, numerical
, or cryptic
codes which correspond to pricing. Once a basic knowledge of the pricing system is gained, it's easy to feel the pricing pulse
of a store and develop intuition as to what's a good deal and what's not. Also, intuitively understanding the codes marked on items that are unmarked with a numbered price tag (in currency
) reduces shopping time in the store. This technique is great if you want to get a jump start on a sale by arriving early.
Don't be afraid to haggle
. While the Salvation Army
and for-profit stores may not go for this, small shops (especially second-hand bookshops
) may allow this. Get to know the owner
of a shop, and perhaps you may get good deals on less frequently circulated items.
Finally, bring a friend or work with a friend. Though I've had limited success in getting others to help me, sometimes coordinated shopping works. For chain store
s that provide periodic sales, especially three day clearances, use distributed scheduling. That is, take a day each, or go to different stores on different days. Sometimes it's good to share items missing in personal collections, etc. Yet as friendship
s go, ugly fights may brew over who gets the lime green Panasonic radio