Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Woman looking at clothes in a thrift store

Six ways to prep for thrift shopping success

Added on Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Written by Ashley Grossman, social media manager for The Salvation Army Northern Division

Thrift shopping can be a great way to update your wardrobe or find the perfect piece of art for your home. But with aisles of appliances and endless racks of clothes, shopping a thrift store can fast become overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done a little prep work.

Whether you’re a first-time thrifter looking to get started or have shopped a few times, look no further than these six helpful tips for shopping a thrift store and making the most of your time.

  1. clothing ready to be donatedClean out your closet: Before you even set foot inside a store, take the extra time to go through your closet. You’ll get a better idea of which items you really need and which ones you don’t, saving you money in the long run. Best of all, there’s no better time to ditch what you don’t want than when you make a trip to your local Salvation Army Store. You can drop off your gently worn clothes right before you shop, saving you time and making space for new items that you’re going to love.
  2. Take a look at current trends: Sometimes it helps to see what the big brands are selling online before you hit the stores. You’ll get of sense of what is trendy, which will help you make decisions when examining similar pieces in thrift stores. You’ll thank yourself later when you find a new jacket that can blend with what’s stylish today and feel even better about getting it at a more budget-friendly price.
  3. Take a quick look around your house: Do you have anything that needs replacing? How about a bare wall or coffee table that could use a little help? Maybe it’s the other way around. If you’ve recently been through a move and realized that a picture frame no longer works in your new space, now’s your chance to get those items out and free up space. Ever wondered what items thrift stores typically don’t accept? We’ve put together a quick list of items we simply cannot take.
  4. taking notesCreate a list: Now that you’ve taken a good look through your home, assessed what you need, and packed up what you would like to donate, it’s time to make a list. Creating a list will keep you on track when browsing through clothing racks begins to feel overwhelming. With so many options and items of all varieties, having a list will help remind you of what you’re truly looking for. To make it even easier, organize your list by section. For example, keep household decorations separate from appliances and tops separate from bottoms. You’ll begin to shop for items within a section versus spending time wandering aisle after aisle.
  5. Set a limit: Decide ahead of time what your budget for the day will be. It’s surprising how quickly a sale can add up when you’ve grabbed an armful of items, even when they’re at a lower price. Also, think about the items on your list that are worth spending a little more on, then determine the maximum dollar amount you’re willing to pay for the remaining items on your list.
  6. Decide which stores you’re going to visit and plot a course: It’s almost time to hit the thrift shops. You’ve purged your home and closet, created a list, and set a budget; all you have to do is decide where you’re going to thrift. Once you’ve picked two or three places, write down all the addresses and business hours in your phone so that you can quickly program your GPS to the next location without wasting time. An added bonus is that you’ll have a better idea of how far you’re going to drive between stores.

By shopping or giving at Twin Cities-area Salvation Army Stores, you are helping to fund our life-saving rehabilitation program in Minneapolis. In Greater Minnesota and North Dakota, proceeds are used to support basic needs programs (read related story). We hope this helps!