12 Thrift Shopping Secrets That You Need To Know

Who doesn’t love the thrill of the hunt? From clothing and accessories to home decor, thrift shopping is your best friend when it comes to finding unique gems on a budget. If you’re not used to shopping in a store like Value Village, Goodwill, or Salvation Army, it can feel a tad daunting. There are endless isles of un-curated, un-merchandised items to sift through, and usually, a lot of misses before you get a hit. If you want to thrift like a pro, there are some tips, tricks, and secrets (shh) that you should know before the next time you shop!

Take a peek at these thrift-shopping secrets!

Attack The Rack

The phrase “attack the rack” is a tip shared by various thrift vloggers, meaning if you see a new rack come out – flock to it immediately. These are the newest items that have not been looked at by anyone else yet. So, if you can, before an employee puts the new items away, sift through them. 

Go Early & During The Week

Weekends are usually quite busy at the thrift; therefore, it’s common for no new inventory to go out on a Saturday or Sunday. If you want to shop through the best assortment of items, going during the week, as close to open as possible, is your best bet. There’s a reason you’ll see regular thrift shoppers lined up outside before it opens, after all! 

Make A Wish List

Making a wish list of the specific pieces you would like to find will make thrifting feel a lot less overwhelming. It will help you stay focused and know exactly what to keep your eye out for. Starting a Pinterest board specifically for thrifting inspiration can also be helpful!

Check All Sizes

While thrifting for clothes, ensure to browse through all sections and sizes so you don’t miss out on anything great! Things can often get moved around and end in the wrong section. It’s also worth noting that sizing can be all over the place for various reasons – including being shrunk in the wash, different stores having different size guides, and vintage often fitting smaller. 


Most thrift stores will reward you for donating. You can usually get a percentage off on your next purchase after donating directly to the store during working hours (so an employee is present to give you a coupon). 

Pay Attention To The Tag

At Value Village specifically, it has been said that each day, a different colour tag is used. Keep an eye out for “today’s” colour to easily shop the newest items! You can find this out by asking an employee or looking to see what colour tag is being used on the newest items being added to the floor. 

Sign Up For Rewards + Emails

Just like any retail store, most thrift stores offer some kind of rewards program where you can score extra savings. There’s also usually an email newsletter to subscribe to, keeping you informed on all upcoming deals and promotions!

Know The Sale Dates

Score great thrift finds at an even better deal by shopping during sale events! As we mentioned, signing up for email newsletters is the best way to stay up to date on upcoming deals and promotions. Common sales you’ll see thrift stores participating in are putting specific categories on sale (like all jeans, for example) and having store-wide percentages off.


Always triple-check what you’re eyeing to ensure there are no flaws and that it’s actually worth the listed price. In addition to checking for flaws, check the label, fibre contents, size, etc. If you find a flaw, a staff member may even be able to lower the price for you if you’re still interested. 

Wash Everything

Here’s a secret that you should definitely know… Most thrift stores do not wash their inventory. So you’re going to want to wash whatever you buy before adding it to your closet! 

Try On/ Keep Your Receipt 

If you can, try on everything you want to buy at the thrift store before cashing out. All too often, people will buy something just because it’s cheap, not knowing if it will work for them and then end up just re-donating it in the end. Avoid this by trying on, or at the very least (with many thrift stores still not having change rooms post-COVID), keep your receipt so you can get store credit when possible. 

Thrift Stores Are Different Than Vintage Stores

Vintage stores are great too, but not to be confused with a regular thrift store! Thrift stores are essentially full of items donated by the community, and vintage stores are carefully curated with a variety of sourcing methods (thrifting is just one of many). In short, vintage stores will be more expensive to shop at than thrift stores but have already done the work for you. Just something to keep in mind!

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