Have you ever marveled at the creative person who always seems to get the best deals for the cheapest price? Have you ever ventured into a thrift store to look for bargains? Here is how you can optimize your experience.
1. Have a plan. This means knowing which stores you will be shopping at and how long. It is very easy to lose time in a thrift store, but by being more focused you can maximize your time. Of course, if you find yourself in a midst of treasures, you can always adjust.Try not to rush.
2. Be flexible. This means you are going in with a mind-set that will allow for success. Don't go in with an expectation of finding a Pierre Cardin original for 3 dollars. Do go in open to the possibilities.
3. Know your merchandise. For example, I purchased a 'Donald Duck In Mathmagicland' video for a dollar at a thrift store. Being a baby boomer, I knew that they used to show that movie in class to us in the 1950's. Turns out there were only two versions ever made- the first one is pretty much impossible to find since collectors hold onto them and the second is also collector worthy. I ended up selling it on an online store for 39$.
You can learn about merchandise by looking through the ads and seeing what people are paying for them brand new; learn logos and brands; and find out what's hot and what's selling. Books on antiques also will help you recognize true antiques from knock-offs.
4. Be attentive. If you see something from across the room and figure you'll make your way over to it, it will be gone. Go over and pick up the item and put it in your cart. You can always put it back after you have had time to look at it more closely.
Watch other people. If they all seem to be hurrying towards one aisle, they might be having a sale on light bulbs or another donated item. Often these sell out as fast as they put them out.
5. Be prepared. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. If you will be trying on shoes, wear socks and shoes you can get off and on easily. Go to the bathroom before you go into the store-most stores will not let you use the restroom.
Have an appropriate vehicle for your purchases. If you are considering buying furniture, bring a truck or SUV that will have enough room.Bring blankets or furniture cushions and tie-dons, along with a small red flag in case items stick out. Bring a measuring tape and the measurements of the rooms you are looking for... it really helps as everything looks the right side in the store-until you get it home and find out it doesn't fit.
6. Know Your Stores. Many stores are only open certain days and times. Some have discount days, some have senior days. Some have a sign at the entrance as you walk in telling you daily sales. Some only take cash. Some have higher prices than others for the same type of item.
7. Have fun. If possible, go with someone; that way you can share the excitement of the find.
8. Things you should not buy at a thrift store: used lingerie, food containers that are not new (they could have had gasoline stored in them previously), things with parts missing (they may be out of manufacture), etc. Be careful with electronics- what you see is what you get-with no warranty. Ask them to plug it in to see if it works.
9. Think outside the box. A basket would make a great desk trashcan, a birdcage a great garden or home design item, silverware a windchime, etc. Be open to the possibilities.
10. Don't overbuy. It is a temptation to buy all these great bargains, but if you don't have a place for them, don't buy them; then they are not a bargain. Many hoarders start this way.