Here are some tips of things that I've figured out through the years for if you've never been thrifting, it's been a while or went once and hated it.
1. Thrift stores are not known to carry one of a kind items. It's not an Antique mall. There are times were people don't realize what they have, the employees don't know what they have and mark things down very cheaply only for it to be an expensive item in reality. Go expecting to find "yard sale" items. Some broken, some in need of some TLC and some in very good condition that makes you feel like you just hit the mother load.
2. Got to the websites. Find out when their sales are. Goodwill normally runs a different kinds of sale every day. Go on the days that the sale will benefit you. Some store also offer coupons if you spend over a certain amount. Print them. They will not likely accept them over the mobile device.
3. Get there early. My favorite store opens at 10 am so I have plenty of time to get there after I take my daughter to school, but if you can't get there when they open get there as early as you can. By mid day the best stuff will more likely be gone.
4. When buying clothes and shoes, make you there is a dressing room. There is nothing worst than getting home after buying clothes in a store that doesn't have a dressing room and find out that most of it doesn't fit. Even if it was $1 it still is disappointing and will make you not want to do it again. Bring socks if you're wearing shoes without them to try shoes on. When getting home. Wash all clothes and spray the shoes with disinfectant.
5. Wear comfortable shoes. The store may not look very big, but after looking at every item you pick up carefully to make sure it's in reasonable condition time will pass by quickly. Before you know it it's been two hours, your feet hurt and you're not going to feel like either finishing up the store or going to another one.
6. Bring snacks for yourself and children. Same as number 4 if you're famished by the time you're done you're going to want to go home or stop by a fast food chain and spending more money than you were planning. For my son I normally pack a lunchbox with a lunchable, a few juice boxes, an apple and fish crackers. Things that are easy for him to eat while in a kart.
7. Bring entertainment for the children. In this day and age there are so many things that will keep kids entertain. For me I just use my iphone. I've downloaded plenty of kid friendly apps so my son has plenty of options to keep him entertained.
8. Bring hand sanitizer. I carry a small purse size bottle with me and clean my hands and the kids hands either after we're done shopping or before snacks are consumed. Your hands end up quite dirty.
9. Most importantly have fun. Enjoy yourself. Laugh at the things people donate and laugh at the things the stores are willing to sell.
Yesterday I went to my favorite store, every Mondays it's an extra 25% off and Goodwill, which is right next door. Goodwill had kids clothes for 99 cents. I came out finding some pretty good deals at both. Here is a pic and a list of what I got.
1. Pasta Machine
2. Thomas the Train toy
3. A bag of 35 bouncy balls of all colors and sizes
5. 3 books: Sisterhood of the traveling pants 2 and 3 and What's your number
6. Pack of 4 looms
7. Two packs of Toy Story mini notebooks
8. 3 pairs of pants for my little boy
9. A skir from The Limited
10. DKNY Jeans black strapless dress
11. Skirt Slip
12. 6 Door Knobs Heart foam shapes
13. The Pampered Chef Bread Tube-Heart
14. Inline Skates for my son
15. 2 bags of about 15 shirts/skirt hangers
The running total: $36 Not bad Huh?
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