One of the secrets to getting out of debt is keeping your spending (and costs) low. Many of us turn to second-hand items to keep costs low. Here are a few ground rules for an optimal thrifting experience.
Know the niche shops
Did you know there are thrift shops that specialize in used building materials and even major appliances? Check out surplus stores—Universities, major corporations, even your state government may have a surplus store. Current State of Washington Surplus items include wheelchairs, chandeliers, thermal long johns (new), File cabinets and art.
Take Your Time
Visit at leisure. These things take time. Keep a list in your wallet of the things you are keeping your eye out for, and be sure to check for those items.
Know how to make some basic repairs. Tighten a bolt, fix a zipper, re-sew a button. You may even need to bring in professional help—if you’ve found a great winter jacket with a ripped out lining, call your tailor or dry cleaning shop and ask what it would cost to have a jacket re-lined.
Shop for winter clothes in midsummer, and vice versa. Summer is also the best time to find furniture—often delivered to thrift shops after going unsold in garage sales. Summer (wedding season) is also a great time to find household appliances, as households comingle, duplicated toasters, bread makers and blenders start turning up in thrift shops.
Shop The Affluent Neighborhoods
Most thrift shops, even the big ones, don’t move merchandise around very much, geographically-speaking. Find higher quality furniture, clothing and other products in more affluent neighborhoods.
Markdowns Usually Happen on Mondays
Most thrift stores mark down merchandise on Mondays, but check with your favorite stores to find their individual policies. Watch for rewards programs, holiday sales and special events. Also, don’t disregard a thrift shop going out of business sale. I dropped in on one once with $3 in my pocket. It was full of merchandise and no customers so they were selling clothing for ten cents per grocery sack. I walked out with ten grocery bags of designer clothes—many items have become favorites, still more items got consigned.
Shop College Towns For Casual Clothes
While you’re going to want to buy your suits in the banking district, you’re also going to want to buy your jeans near college campuses. College Students have lots of casual clothes, and that freshman 15 does in a lot of jeans. Also, at the end of the school year, hit those college campuses for small appliances like toasters, microwaves and mini-fridges, often discarded or donated as college students move out in a hurry.