The key to successful thrifting outings (I am talking thrift stores, yardsales, etc in this post) is preparation. There are three basic things that you need to know before you embark on a journey on which you hope to come home with treasure.
#1 Where are you going to go?
Have a plan of the places that you intend to visit. If you are looking to go to garage sales, use Craigslist.com, your local paper, or a handy little app for smart phones called Yard Sale Treasure Map, it takes all of the yard sales posted on craigslist in a 40 mile radius of whatever zip code you enter and it plots in on a map for you. If you are going thrift store shopping, plan to visit a few in the area. If you don’t know the area, go into one and on your way out, ask if there are any others close by. Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you cannot deviate. But at least have a general idea. For example, when I go to yard sales, I have anywhere from 3 to 7 that I am very intentional about going to, they have listed content that I am interested in and they seem promising (just because their post is promising does NOT mean that they are). So, I have my 3 to 7 plotted out on a map, but along the way I stop at whatever else comes up or seems interesting. I’m not locked into all of the ones I’ve plotted out, but it also makes it so that I am not driving around aimlessly for hours, wasting gas and coming up empty.
#2What are you looking for?
Be very specific. My general rule is this, if I’m not looking for it, or it isn’t going to immediately benefit me, then don’t buy it. No matter how good the bargain may be or how cute you think it is, if you won’t use it starting tomorrow, don’t buy it. Because, the thing with thrifting is that there is an incredible amount of stuff out there. It all has a great price tag, but just because you can get it for a quarter doesn’t mean you need it. Know what you need and do not deviate!
#2 How much are you willing to spend?
On any given “thrifting day” I know exactly how much I plan to spend for the whole day, and I have an estimate of how many items I would like to come home with. When yardsaling, I take no more than $10. I take it all in cash, and I normally take all $1’s and a handful of quarters. This makes it so that I never spend more than that, but it also helps so that when trying to bargain I can offer exactly what I want to pay for something. I rarely pay more than $1 for any item that I pick up at a garage sale. Unless it is some crazy extravagant item that I cannot live without. How do I do this? A couple of ways. Barter. If an item says $1, ask if they will take 50 cents. Worst that can happen is that they say no. Also, if it is a banging yardsale, wait until you have looked over everything. If you have got a huge pile of stuff, gather it up in your arms and offer the seller a lump sum. If what they have priced comes to $8 or $9, wave a crisp $5 in their face and ask if they will take the offer. Chances are if they are having a yard sale, they want their crap gone. You may feel like you are cheating the first time or two, but, really, you are paying them to haul their trash off their lawn; and they have the right to say no.
Also, if there is a really great pair of jeans, and they want $5 for them, but all I have for the WHOLE day, don’t buy the jeans! I’ll betcha that $5 that if you hold out a few more weekends you could walk away with an equally awesome pair for a buck or two. Train yourself to walk away when the price is just too high.
Well, that’s all folks! Please feel free to comment or ask questions! I feel like Dear Abby right now 🙂
My name is Rachel and this is my blog about thrifty business.