How to Get Lucky and Find the Best Deals at Your Local Thrift Stores
I’ve been selling on eBay, Amazon, and craigslist for several years now. It always makes me smile when people ask me how I always seem to “get lucky” finding the best deals at the thrift stores. First of all, I don’t always get lucky. Second, getting lucky is not all about luck!
I’ve definitely got some good tips to share with you regarding thrifting and finding the best deals.
You Won’t Always Get Lucky
First off, if you’re new to thrifting—if you’re new to going to the Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Savers, or whatever thrift stores you have in your area—you must realize this one thing. You can be as prepared as you like, you can know the best days to go, you can scan everything, but sometimes when you go to the thrift store, you’re going to come up empty.
The deals just won’t be there for one reason or another. Maybe the donation truck didn’t come in. Maybe one of the employees called out sick. For example, at my local Savers, if the employee who puts out books isn’t there for whatever reason, the books don’t get put out that day. And sometimes it’s just the competition or bad luck.
So even though you are doing everything right—growing your knowledge base, studying every single day—sometimes you’re just going to be unlucky.
Track Your Thrift Store Outings
One thing that both my mother and I do is that every time we go into a thrift store, we have a little notebook. We track the day and mark the time, and we keep tabs on how we did. Did we find a bunch of great deals? Was the competition there? Was there an influx of new items of a particular category? Was another category completely picked through? Did employees bring out bins of fresh items at a certain time?
If you do that for a couple months, you’re going to find out quickly what days will be the most advantageous for you and which days it will be almost pointless for you to go.
Attack the Rack
When you’re going to thrift stores, if you see the new clothing racks come out, don’t be afraid to attack that rack even before the employee sorts it and puts it in with the rest of the clothing. You might try saying, “Hey, excuse me. Do you mind if I look through this? I’m looking for this type of clothing.”
The rationale here is that it will take you five times longer to sort through 5,000 clothing items trying to find the fresh inventory than it would just to attack the new stuff. Always go for the fresh bins; always go for the new clothing racks. That is where the goodies are hiding.
Another tip is that you just have to visit these thrift stores often. I’m blessed to have a couple thrift stores in my area that are right on the main route to a lot of places that I go. So sometimes I’ll frequent these thrift stores twice a day. And a lot of times I’ll find new inventory in the morning, in the evening, and in the afternoon because there’s so much inventory coming in. So go often; you never know when the deals will be there.
Remember to build relationships with the people there. Ask them, “Hey, I’m just curious—are there any days that you don’t stock new inventory?” A lot of times they’ll say yes, and those are the days you want to avoid.
Talk to the people who are working at the thrift store. One time I went to a Goodwill late at night. I’m friends with the manager there, and when he saw me, he said, “Hey, man, good to see you.” We started chatting. He told me, “We got a bunch of books in the back. You want me to bring them out for you?” Of course I told him yes. I ended up finding several hundred dollars in books that evening.
The other good thing about building relationships is that when I walk into a lot of thrift stores, I get to feel like a celebrity. It has nothing to do with my YouTube channel. I feel like a celebrity because I’m good with all these store employees. I feel like I’m showing up to work with all my friends. When I walk in, the employees will say, “Hey, how you doing? Good to see you. We got some fresh books over here you’ll want to check out.”
The Stores Want to Make Money Too
Just be cool with these people. Ask them how their day is going. Chat with them. Then you can say, “Hey, listen, I’m a reseller. Are there any items here that I can help you out by buying?” Remember that the store wants to make money too, and they do that by selling their items to you. They want to keep the inventory moving; if the inventory doesn’t move, it takes up a lot of space. And then when new inventory comes in, they don’t have space.
So there will be times you get lucky at the thrift store and times you won’t. But I assure you if you keep these tips in mind, you will increase your chances of getting lucky.
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