Thrifting Tips

Three Things to Always Thrift For (And Three Things to Skip)

If it were up to me, I’d buy just about everything secondhand. After all, it’s infinitely cheaper, you can score such unique and rare finds, and most of the time the stuff is in perfectly fine condition! Yet, while there are a few things to always thrift for, I’ve learned over time to steer clear of a few others.

I came to this realization slowly, over the course of a few years. When my husband and I were married, I took “pinching pennies” to the extreme. I stayed up late couponing, scoured the internet for deals and steals and spent more time in my local thrift store than I did at home. My aim? To source absolutely everything I could in a pre-loved form. As a result, my home was filled with vintage treasures, my closet was stocked with retro day dresses and I even convinced my husband to set up a VHS player in the den so I could play my “old-school” two-tape “Titantic” set.

Yet, as I’ve gotten older and started a family, I’ve found that there are a select handful of things (and only a handful, really) that I’m better off just letting go, then coughing up the cash for and buying new.

But first, the good stuff! Here are three items I ALWAYS thrift for first, even if it’s easier and faster to just hop online and buy it new.

1. Yes: Home Decor

Yup, this one is first on my list, even above clothing. I can sit in my living room and look around at the fabulous vintage pieces in my home and feel so happy. I’m happiest because each one of them literally cost me around $10 or less, yet my home looks eclectic, charming and intentional. I’ve been shopping the home decor section of my thrift store for almost 10 years and it’s never let me down. Case in point? The set of matching embroidered floral pictures hanging in my foyer. They’re instant conversation pieces and I love that they have a story.

2. Yes: Dresses

Need I say more? You just can’t buy a vintage day dress with buttons all the way down and deep pockets anymore. Well, you can but it won’t have the same backstory! If I ever need a quick pick-me-up, I’ll head to the thrift store, find a long, floral number and take it home. After I wash it, I’ll put it on for a picnic with the kids and take a long walk, slipping all the rocks they hand me into the pockets, smiling the entire time.

3. Yes: General Gifts

I love scouring my local thrift store for unique and special gifts for my friends and family members. I can just about guarantee that no one else will be bringing the same gift that I am, it’s my special way of showing that I care and took the time to shop for that person, and plus it just gives me a reason to thrift, so there’s that.

And…here are three things I steer clear of at the thrift store!

1. No: Underwear

Go to the middle aisles of any thrift store, and you’re bound to find racks of lingerie, pantyhose, nightgowns, and underwear. Yes, you can buy these items for pennies and I’m sure they’ve been pre-washed, or you can at least go home and douse them in detergent, then wash them on the highest and hottest setting possible. Still, let’s be frank here. It’s underwear and it’s not that expensive to begin with (at least it doesn’t have to be). If it’s come into contact with someone else like that, it’s a hard pass for me.

2. No Snacks

I have a grandma who will literally take the free packs of Saltines that they give you at restaurants, roll them up in napkins, and stuff them in her purse to take home. Bless her heart, and bless mine for even considering a snack at the thrift store. Mine back home has bins of inexpensive snacks by the check-out register, in the perfect spot for little kids to notice and beg their parents for them. They’re usually stale packs of Oreos, pixie sticks, Nabisco crackers, hot chocolate mix and more. Now, thrifting does make me work up an appetite, but my favorite local hamburger joint is only a block away, so I’m good!

3. No Shoes

Now, this needs to come with a disclaimer. I do own and adore three pairs of thrifted shoes. Yet, I’ve bought about 10 pairs and all but those have fallen apart. In fact, one pair of brown woven flats literally fell to pieces while I was walking in the mall on my birthday. I had to ask a vendor for some duct tape to keep them together so I could hobble on home! Thrifted shoes have usually been through a lot, and this falls into the underwear category for me. Of course, if you’re going to go this route, there are a few rules to follow to ensure you love your new footwear. For me? Feet sweat and it’s hard to wash shoes, so…

This list is far from exhaustive, but it explains the thought process behind my decisionmaking! What about you? What are three things you’ll shop for secondhand, and what do you steer clear of? I’d love to know!