Are you a thrifting novice, looking for a good item? Be sure to avoid these 10 things on your bargain hunt…
First off, you should be proud of yourself for taking the step to explore the world of thrifting, because surprisingly many still look down on hand-me-downs or a second-hand bargain. For what it’s worth, we prefer the term ‘pre-loved’. In reality, there’s absolutely nothing wrong in finding a good bargain and saving on your monthly spend.
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Thrifting is a unique and fun activity that can lead to some great finds. As with any endeavor, there are best practices one should follow to optimize their time and increase the likelihood of coming home with something worthwhile. Then there are things to be avoided, which in the long run will get in the way of finding a steal. The below list outlines things you should avoid like the plague:
1. Being Afraid to Negotiate
Not every thrift store has a clear policy for negotiating prices, but the ones that do are worth a visit. Some stores will even write the original price on the item and let you negotiate it down to whatever price you want, which is a great way to save more money. What do you have to lose, except a little bit of time and negotiating skills?
2. Not Checking the Expiration Date
Many household items are worth more when they’re new, and some will only function as intended for a limited period of time. This means that you should check the expiration date on anything that you’re planning to buy at a thrift store, including food and cleaning supplies. If an item has a limited shelf life, you’re better off passing it up and buying something new.
3. Buying Unnecessary Items
If you’re looking for a specific item, like a couch or a dresser, be sure to examine the quality of the items in front of you before purchasing one. If you find an item that’s in great condition, ask yourself: ‘Do I really need this?’. It’s very tempting to buy something you don’t need when the price seems right at face value. But remember, one of the main reasons you’re thrift shopping is to keep to a set budget! Be strong enough to pass and keep hunting for the items you originally planned to buy.
4. Buying Clothes That Require Dry Cleaning
If you don’t have the money or the time to visit a dry cleaner, this is something that you should keep in mind. While it’s possible to clean certain types of clothing at home, doing so requires a lot of time and energy. You don’t want to end up spending money you saved on having to maintain the product.
5. Overpaying for Brands
While you might be tempted by designer brands, it’s worth noting that thrift stores will often sell clothes with stains, holes, and other damages that would lower a garment’s value. What’s more, some thrift stores will mark items up by as much as 200% and more. Before you buy a name-brand item at a thrift store, it’s worth doing some research to see what it’s worth new. Word to the wise: you may be able to find the same item for a lower price online.
6. Not Researching the Item You Want to Buy
Before you buy a thrifting bargain, you should examine it thoroughly, and research the item to see if it’s advisable to buy it secondhand. If you’re okay at purchasing a secondhand item, you should keep in mind that many thrift stores won’t accept returns. For example, you may find a blender with a broken blade. If you purchase it and take it home, you may not be able to return it or exchange it for a new one. Remember, appliances and other high-ticket items may have been dropped or knocked around in the thrift store.
7. Forgetting that Zips are Important
If you’re buying an article of clothing with a zipper, make sure it’s intact. If the zipper is broken or missing, the garment will be difficult, if not impossible, to wear. Sure, zippers are easy to replace, but you need to ensure it’s an item of clothing that allows you to sew in a standard zip, not one that’s harder to find than a needle in a haystack!
8. Underestimating Dangling Cords (they’re a risk!)
If you are buying an item with a cord, make sure it’s tightly fastened at the plug. If it’s loose, the plug might detach from the cord while you’re using the item. This could result in the item shorting out, or falling apart altogether. You probably don’t want to buy something that’s likely to break after one or two uses. If you’re buying hair dryers, for example, make sure the cords and plug connecting the device are secure.
9. Being Afraid To Walk Away Or Pass On An Item
Sometimes you’ll find items whilst thrifting that you like, but you’re not in love with. Simply walk away from them and keep searching. You want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of buying items you wouldn’t have necessarily purchased, just because they’re cheap.
10. Not Having a Game Plan
When you go thrifting, you want to go with a plan. What exactly are you looking for? What are your likes and dislikes? What are your specific needs when looking for a thrifting bargain? Create a list of items you want and, most importantly need. Tailor your thrifting visits to fit said items. Depending on where you live, you may have tons of thrift stores in your area or just a couple. You want to know which ones are worth your time, and which ones have the types of items you’re looking for.