EMBRACE THE GRUNGE Try to find the grungiest thrift shop around, because chances are they will be less picked over with better prices. When well-established thrift stores catch on to what vintage items are worth, they price them accordingly. Sometimes it's worth the money, but it's also great getting a deal and finding real treasures. My favorite thrift store in town is the Goodwill Bins, which is a warehouse filled to the brim with carts of clothing and pallets of shoes and accessories. I've found some amazing things there because it's not very picked over and you really have to dig to find the treasures. Tip: take a shower after a visit, wear gloves, jeans and a tee. No joke. Eek.
JUST BECAUSE IT'S VINTAGE DOESN'T MEAN IT'S GOOD Don't buy something just because it's vintage. Sure, it is exciting coming across a funky dress from the 1960s or a set of dishes from the 1970s, but if you don't love it or need it don't buy it. I've made this mistake far too much during my years of thrifting.
BE REALISTIC "I kinda like that dress, but the length is off so I'll just hem it!" is a common phrase that I used to say all the time. The reality is a huge pile of "to mend" clothing that just takes up space. I can definitely sew a bit, but I am no seamstress. So if you are like me, just pass on the item.
MAKE PILES IN STORE When you come across something that catches your eye, pick it up! Chances are there is a person in the store with similar style that might snatch it just as you put it down, leaving you with a "shoot! how did I let that one go!?" feeling. You can go through your basket later and narrow out which items you want to purchase.
BE AN INSPECTOR Inspect items closely before buying. If it smells like cigarettes, mold, or dust, has an assortment of questionable stains, or includes countless rips, it's probably best to pass on the item.
THRIFT BUDDIES Make friends with the workers! This one is very important, because if you are avid thrifter like me, you see these people at least once a week. I've found that if I make some acquaintances with employees or fellow shoppers, they will come up to me and give me item they think I'd like or best case scenario; place items aside especially for you.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH NEW (err, OLD) Before you head out for a thrift shopping spree, gather a few things you no longer need and donate them to the store your headed to. It will give you an idea of what you really need and give you a bit more room in your closet for your new digs!
DON'T GET DISCOURAGED Some days I come home with nothing, while other days are pure thrifting magic. I get discouraged when I find nothing for weeks straight, so I give it a rest for a week or so until new inventory comes in.
LIMIT YO-SELF! It can be tempting to want to buy everything with a 1$ price tag, but limit yourself to buy only what is needed or has value. I like to set aside 20$ or so before I head out thrifting, unless of course a vintage bridal dress or 1950s shoes come my way.
DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF Truth is, if you head into a thrift store with a specific item in mind you usually won't find it. You will also miss out on other awesome goods because you're too focused on finding that item! I like to make a list on my phone of items I want to thrift in the future, and whenever I head out to thrift stores I use it as a reference.