Thrifting Tips 101 By Thrift Trader San Diego

If you’re checking out our blog, we probably don’t need to tell you all the reasons why thrift shopping is so awesome—you already know! And you also know that a successful trip to the thrift store depends as much on luck as any expert tip. But to increase your odds of stumbling upon that unbelievable find, whether it’s a pristine vintage dress in your size or a shirt to match that stubborn skirt that doesn’t quite work with anything else in your closet, here are some quick tips to follow on your next thrifting excursion:

1. Shop often

Merchandise moves fast in thrift stores—sometimes the minute it hits the racks! So it’s always a good idea to pop into your favorite shop at least once a week. Most thrift stores add new inventory daily.

2. Shop seasonally

Obviously we’re not saying you should limit your thrift shopping to four times a year (see tip 1), but people typically round up their gently loved fashions to donate or trade when the seasons change. If you time it right, you can ride that new inventory wave to fashion nirvana.

3. Know the sales

Even though thrift stores already offer unbelievable bargains, most have frequent sales as well. At Thrift Trader, we have different specials every day of the week, including tax-free days and clearance events.

4. Research trends

Some savvy thrifters don’t need no stinkin’ inspiration, but if you’re ever not quite sure what you’re looking for, check out current fashion magazines. You’d be surprised how well you can recreate new looks with not-so-new clothing.

5. Invite responsibly

Shopping with friends can be awesome, but when thrifting, it’s best to bring along only shopping buddies who have vastly different tastes and/or wear a different size than you. Inviting your same-size fashion twin to a store that only carries one of each item is asking for trouble. 

6. Dress light

Some thrift stores have fitting rooms but many don’t. But you won’t need to worry about it either way if you dress light in leggings, a tank and flats so you can try on clothes wherever.  

7. Expand your size limits

The fashion industry is many things and consistent isn’t one of them, even when it comes to sizes, which have shifted throughout the years. So check out items that are one size up or down from your current number so you don’t miss out on a great vintage find.

8. Take risks

One of the best things about thrifting is that you can experiment with fashion guilt-free. So that yellow sweater was a miss? You only paid a few dollars for it so no big deal. Plus, it looks great on your best friend. But would you have even attempted it if the sweater cost full retail price? Probably not. The true fashionista knows that taking risks is the only way to set trends.

9. Think beyond the whole

Sometimes a piece that inspires an instant “no way” can be valuable for its parts, like the cool buttons on a hideous jacket or the corset of an otherwise matronly gown. If the mice from Cinderella can think outside the box, so can you.

10. Inspect before buying

Most thrift shops won’t resell obviously damaged clothing items, but small stains, missing buttons, broken zippers, ripped seams, and other wardrobe malfunctions can be overlooked. This doesn’t mean the item can’t be saved, but know the limits of your fix-it skills before committing to a fixer-upper.

Ready to try out these tips? 

At Thrift Trader San Diego, we are highly selective about what we accept in donations and trades, so all you have to worry about is whether to take the risk of purchasing that yellow sweater risk. And if you have a pile of great clothes that just aren’t doing it for you anymore, bring them in! Our buying hours at our North Park and Pacific Beach locations run from 10am-6pm daily.