By Cindy Hamlin, Special to the Citizen 10/27/11
• Don’t be afraid of the seedy! Most of the best thrift stores are in the less than ideal parts of town. Thrift stores are dirty and you will have to dig, but isn’t a bargain worth digging for?
• Make nice with the owner/manager! Tell them what you are looking for and they may know where it is or will keep an eye out for you.
• Thrift stores need bags for the customer’s purchases. Your home is likely filled with them, both paper and plastic, so make nice and curry some favor!
• If there is a quantity of an item, but they are priced individually, ask if they can give you a price if you take all of
them. Be prepared to take them (or not) depending on the price. If you ask for a better price on an item (not all do this) be prepared to pay it. The owners get really peeved if you ask continually and never buy it.
• Most thrift stores have a discount schedule (colored dots/tags, sections that are over stocked with items, etc). This is usually posted or announced when you arrive, so look for it or ask. It may make the difference in buying it or leaving it there.
• Think of other uses for your purchases. The shirt with a spot can be fabric for a bag; a wool sweater can be felted. A shirt missing buttons can have a new funkier set. A single earring can become a pendant on a necklace or the center for a brooch. No item is a lost cause unless it is disgusting!
• Craig’s List is a good place to check for shops. They usually post it in the yard/garage sale section.
• Stop in often! They get new merchandise EVERY DAY and ALL DAY! It is not the same store 20 minutes after you leave.
• Google search “thrift shops” and “your town”. You may find ones that you never knew of. Ask a fellow thrift shopper if they found any new or cool shops.
• If your gut tells you that the item is worth something, LISTEN! As you develop and fine tune your thrifting skills it gets better. You can also go home and research it. I buy items at the Goodwill and then take home and research it. They have a return policy for store credit only, so I am not at a loss if I take it back.
• Tell your thrifting buddies what you are looking for. They can help you look for that illusive item.
Good luck and happy hunting!
Cindy Hamlin is a lover of thrift shops and a maker of things. She shares her exploits on her blog, Cindy is Crafty (cindyiscrafty.wordpress.com) and she makes and sells jewelry designs at shops in the Metro Richmond region and her thrift finds on eBay.
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