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5 Tips to Save Money at Thrift Stores

Of course you want to get stuff cheaper. When you get your inventory for less money, that means making more money in your business and more money in your pocket. So let’s dive in with these 5 tips to save money at thrift stores.

#1: Go on Half-Off Days and Sales Days
Wherever you live, I’m going to venture to guess that at least a couple of the thrift stores have regularly planned sales. There are a couple types you should be looking for. Sometimes a thrift store will have big half-off sales every month or two where all their inventory is 50 percent off. Sometimes it’s seasonal, and the thrift store will, for example, have a sale at the end of winter where all winter items are maybe 75 percent off.

There are also the thrift stores that utilize a system where items that come in are tagged by color. So all the items that come in during a particular week are tagged with a particular color. And maybe once a week, all tags of a certain color are marked down to a low price or a percentage off. It’s a way that the thrift stores make sure inventory keeps moving out the  door so they have room for the new stuff coming in.

#2: Make a Donation
Another way to save money is by donating. Many of these thrift stores have a deal where when you donate a bag of items, they will give you a coupon for some percentage off. Much of the time you cannot also combine the coupon with other sales, but sometimes you can. Just make sure to read the fine print.

Donating is also a great way to get rid of your “death pile.” A death pile is stuff you have been trying to sell for a while but that just isn’t moving. We all have them. There’s no shame in donating items that you cannot sell. Think of it as making room in your inventory for more profitable items.

#3: Participate in Loyalty Programs
Like any business, a thrift store loves repeat business. The more you come in, the more they sell, right?

Some thrift stores like to reward loyal customers. They might have a program where you get a stamp on a card for every, say, $5 you spend. Then when you fill up the card, you get a coupon for some percentage off. Again, like the coupon you could get while donating, you often cannot combine this coupon with other sales. Just make sure to check the terms of the coupon. And do make sure to ask if they have a loyalty program; sometimes employees might forget to bring it to your attention.

#4: Use Your Status
This is an underutilized tip for sure. Some thrift stores will give you a discount simply because of who you are.

For example, maybe the thrift store down the road has a deal where students (college or otherwise) get a certain percentage off. Maybe another thrift store gives a discount to active military or veterans. A third thrift store might have a senior’s day each week where those of a certain higher age might get an additional discount. Again, just make sure to ask the store if they have any programs like that for you to take advantage of.

#5: Build Relationships
Relationships are huge. It’s not only about going to the right line because you know that worker will always give you the lowest price possible. It’s key that the store employees get to know you and what you are looking for. You never know when a good relationship will land you an even better deal.

A friend of mine was in a thrift store the other day. He said he saw a new printer—a really nice one—and that it was going for $150 on Amazon. They had it priced for $75, but my friend balked at the price. He just didn’t want to risk it at that profit margin. So what did he do? He simply asked the manager if he could get a deal on the printer. The manager must have wanted that printer out of the store (it was kind of big and bulky and taking up a lot of shelf room), because he told my buddy that for $30 cash, it could be his.

There Are Ways to Save
A lot of people complain about the rising prices at thrift stores, but there are ways to save when you shop at them. Remember that these thrift stores want to sell their inventory too, so when you take advantage of sales and discounts, it’s a win-win situation.

You’ve just got to keep your eyes open out there. You will be “luckier” the smarter you work this business.

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