1. LOOK! Thrift stores aren't like regular shops. Not everything good will be displayed RIGHT where you can see it. You need to flip through the racks to find what you want. This type of shopping is not for the lazy/faint of heart. It's for the cheap and clever.
Thrift shopping is like treasure hunting. You've got to dig through the dirt to find the treasure. But when you find the treasure, it's soooo worth it.
2. There are certain times of year that are better to go than others. I've found that back-to-school time, right after Christmas, and right when summer starts are good times. Why? Because people are cleaning out their closests for the new things they've just bought.
3. Keep in mind that you can buy things off-season. What the fuck am I talking about? Sometimes people get rid of their old summer clothes around winter when they happen to be doing that Christmas cleaning. Chances are the off-season stuff will be priced cheaper than the in-season stuff. (Even thrift stores don't think anyone is crazy enough to buy shorts when there's three feet of snow outside. Remember what I said about being clever?)
See a pair of shorts you like? Is it twenty degrees outside? Are they two dollars? Snap those bitches up! You can stick them in a drawer with the rest of your summer clothes. Sometimes you can get all your seasonal shopping done before the season even starts!
4. There's nothing wrong with used shoes. Don't like the thought of putting your feet where someone else's feet have been? Spray them with Lysol/launder them if it bother's you so much. They're as good as new.
Often times, you'll find a pair of shoes barely worn. That's why people got rid of them. They wore them maybe twice, hated them, and gave them away. I've found eight dollar boots that were maybe worn once.
5. Okay, so clothes that other people have worn bother you? Then wash them before you wear them! It's not that big a deal. In fact, I encourage the washing-before-wearing. I've found some pretty awesome jewelry too. But I certainly disinfect the earrings before I jam them into my lobes.
7. Not all thrift stores are created equal. Some are nicer than others. Some have stricter rules about what can and cannot be donated. I've heard people complain about torn/stained clothing.
If the thrift store you are going to has crappy merchandise, don't go to that one anymore.Go find another one. I call this the Denny's Rule, after that episode of Family Guy. Like there are two Denny's so people can say; "Let's not go to THAT Denny's. Let's go to the GOOD one."
The same goes for thrift shops. "Let's not go to THAT Goodwill. Let's go to the GOOD one!" There's almost an order of niceness when it comes to thrift shopping, I've found.
1. Cosignment shops tend to be the nicest (often times privately owned, so maybe one and two are a tie).
2. Privately owned thrift shops/cosignments.
3. Goodwill/Salvation Army
4. Saint Vincent de Paul.
The Saint Vinny's I find tend to be not that great. And keep in mind that this is a LOOSE sort of chain. Sometimes the Goodwill is the nicest. Sometimes that privately owned shops are. You're going to have to look around and see what's best near you.
8. Make it a DAY of thrift shopping. I don't know why, but it seems like you find a lot more stuff when you go to a few places instead of just one. Also, the bigger the place, the more stuff, the better chance you have of finding something awesome. At a Goodwill in Ohio, I got a fourteen dollar hat for two dollars, and I got forty dollar shoes for four dollars.
9. These places do have sales/specials. Saint Vinny's is known for the Five Dollar Bag sale where you get a paper sack and can fill it for five dollars. Some Goodwill centers will sell clothes for a dollar ninety nine a pound.
The Salvation Army in Ann Arbor announces the sales on the overhead. "Five items with a green tag will be five dollars." Or "Blue tag items are two dollars off!" Try and find out what's on sale when you enter and see if you can find any treasures that way.
10. Don't be too picky. You find an awesome shirt but oh noes! There's a tiny rip under the arm. So? Sew it yourself or find someone to do it for you. For three dollars you can't really complain.
11. Be bold. If you see something on the rack you want, and someone is eyeing it, then grab it! Some of these women that shop these places will claw your eyeballs out. Trust me.