How To: Shop at a thrift store

Shop at a thrift store

Go thrifty! Go vintage! Go second hand. With the right approach and an open mind, a trip to your local thrift store can yield some fashionable bargains. Buying used is a smart solution to this economy, and gives you a smart sense of fashion.

You Will Need:
* A computer with internet access
* A thrift store
* Patience
* A tape measure
* Batteries
* Creativity

Step 1: Locate thrift stores
Hop on a computer and search for thrift stores in your area. See if customer feedback is available for any of them. A visit to a secondhand store can last two hours or two minutes, so be prepared. Map a route to two or three stores in proximity and plan to hit one after another.

Step 2: Lower your expectations
Thrift shopping is unpredictable, so keep an open mind. If you walk in with your heart set on a specific brand or style, you're likely to be disappointed.

Step 3: Get details
Strike up a conversation with a store employee to find out what day of the week they stock new items. You'll get first crack at the merchandise.

Step 4: Try clothing on
Since thrift-store clothing is preworn and often stretched out, try on everything to see and feel how it fits.

Step 5: Browse nonclothing sections
Comb carefully through books, art, CDs, and the furniture section. Some of the real finds pop up here.

Step 6: Inspect everything

Inspect all clothing, appliances, and furniture thoroughly. Check shirts for holes and underarm stains, make sure zippers work, and plug electronics into a working outlet.

Step 7: Check out
Be sure to bring plenty of cash – many thrift stores do not accept checks or credit.

Step 8: Clean your purchases
Most secondhand stores don't wash their merchandise before they display it. Once home, throw your new clothes into the washing machine or have them cleaned. Wipe down furniture or appliances, and carefully clean upholstery.

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