GUEST POST /// Thrifting Tips From a Master

Emma from Your Fonder Heart has been a long favorite blogger of mine! She’s such a genuine spirit and is full of amazing stories about wellness, birth and one of my favorite topics, thrifting. Today she’s stopping by to share her tips and tricks for thrifting success … please help me welcome Emma!

I am crazy about thrift shopping. I love that it’s inexpensive and I love that I’m finding a second life for pieces that already exist but mostly I love that I find unique, beautiful things that I wouldn’t be able to find new, no matter the cost.

I’m famous (infamous?) amongst my friends. I often get texts that read, “It’s February and I need a size 4 bathing suit. No Disney characters. Let me know if you find anything?” or “If you see any size 3 pants with a stretchy waistband, please get them! As many as you find! She won’t wear anything that ‘squeezes’ her belly!” They always offer to pay me back but usually I don’t let them since it’s all so affordable anyway!

I even have a tag for thrifting for kids on my blogsweater/skirt/boots, all thrifted. This amazing, vibrant little dress? Thrifted. These $2 Hunter rain boots? Thrifted (obviously!). I consider opening my own shop on the reg.

Wanna get in on the secret of great thrift shopping? Here’s my list of tips and tricks:

1. Know your local stores and what they’re good at – We have lots of great stores in my area but they’re good at different things. Some are large and crowded (great for cheap socks!), others are more selective (and have a higher price point) with more unique pieces. We have several big consignment sales and they have different strengths and weaknesses, too. Know who stocks swimwear in the winter, who always has beautiful wooden toys, who gets the great hand knit sweaters, who charges an arm and a leg for fancy French brands. Once you familiarize yourself with the landscape you can focus in the right place when you’re looking for something specific.

2. (related) Get to know the staff and the layout of the store – I know all the ladies who work at the stories I frequent. I know their names and I ask them to help me look for specific things. I ask if there’s anything they have in the back or under the counter that hasn’t gone to the floor yet. Because I do a lot of baby wearing with different families, I’m always looking for a specific sling that’s perfect for newborns but is out of production. I can always find a home for a ring sling. My girls will call me if they see those things before they even go out on the floor and I’ll pick them up while I’m out which saves me so much shopping time. Most places have a small amount of space to put a ton of (rotating) stuff, and most are very well organized, whether it looks that way or not. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, just ask. There might be a little corner completely filled with what you’re looking for.

3. Shop off season/don’t be in a hurry – It is very rare that you can wake up in the morning, decide you need a pair of 3T jeggings, go to just one thrift store and immediately find them. Think of it as an adventure – the good stuff finds you, not the other way around. Look ahead and buy 1 and 2 sizes up. Get bathing suits at the end of the swimming season for the next year. Buy good quality shoes in any size at any time.

4. Pop in on a regular basis – Since thrift stores are constantly getting new inventory in, you can find something new on Friday even if you were just there Wednesday. I have a favorite place that’s right next to my neighborhood grocery store so I pop in and hit the best sections (shoes, jackets, toys/puzzles and dance wear) whenever I’m up there and have 5-10 minutes to spare.

5. Take advantage of trades/discount policies – One of the thrift stores I visit has a policy where you get 20% off their new merchandise if you use credit (from bringing your own items in). I always check to see if they have something I was going to buy on Amazon or new at another store because it’s basically free 20% off. Even if I only have $1 of credit, I still get the discount, so I try to be strategic. I save the really nice items I’m consigning for the stores that are more selective and organize my bags accordingly (then keep them in my trunk, so I’m always ready to drop off). This way I don’t “waste” a fancy Le Petit Bateau skirt on a store that will underprice it, nor do I waste time taking things into places I know won’t accept them.

6. Know a good find when you see one – it’s not always just a low price you’re looking for. If you find some great snow boots (Bogs or Kamik, for example), you can resell them to the thrift store or at a consignment sale because they’ll hold their value so it becomes more like you’re borrowing them for a while than that you spent a lot of money on them. Most places should be selling items for about 40% of the new price, so if you aren’t familiar with a brand, look it up and see that you aren’t being overcharged.

Thrifting should be fun, so, you know, have fun. But, hopefully, getting organized and strategizing will help you save money and find some special pieces for your little (or yourself!). Happy shopping!

1 … I found this sweet tea set at Me & Moms for $2.50 | 2 … Between my mom and I, all three of these large wooden kitchen pieces were thrifted (the stove/oven, fridge and microwave) | 3 … a sweet little pillow I picked up in just a few minutes when I was looking for a valentines day gift for my 3 year old. $0.50

These are the slings I hunt! Kangaroo Korner – has anyone used one? THE BEST.

amazing green hand knit sweater I found for $5. it zips up the back (!) which is both practical and adorable.

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  1. Joanna says

    I would like to buy more at thrift stores for both financial and environmental reasons, but I feel I don't have the patience for it. Maybe I will have better luck if I start stopping in more often for shorter trips. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. says

    yes, short is perfect. I often say: just going to scan shoes and then move on with my day. then if I don't find anything, I don't feel like I wasted aaaalllll that time.

  3. ThatMamaGretchen says

    It definitely tastes some patience! I love the idea of shorter trips more often, I'm going to give that a try myself!