4 Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping

Thrift Shopping

Happy last Friday in February!  Today, I want to share with you 4 Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping.

I am so thrilled to be back thrift shopping and representing Goodwill San Antonio as an ambassador!  

I love our local Goodwills and their mission to help train and assist veterans and those in need our community.

Thrift shopping is seriously one of my favorite activities, and I am surrounded by so many great locations….all of the stores are well managed and the local community is very generous with donations.


Tips for Thrift Shopping



It takes time to thrift shop and look items over for damage and to go through the entire store…so you don’t miss out on a real treasure.

I never just “stop by” to quickly scan shelves.  I only go when I have time to really look items over with care.

The olive/orange/pink blouse I am wearing today caught my eye at the end of a rack.  It is my size, but it was at the end of sizes that I would have not spent time with.

In a quick in-out situation, I would probably have missed this and I really love the little top.  It is a fun addition to my wardrobe and speaks to my creative side.

Goodwill San Antonio also has one entire location dedicated to accessories (it is easy to go nuts in there), and that is where the tortoiseshell bracelet I am wearing is from.

The necklace is mine, but ties in the cream jacket and top together nicely. 


Tips for Thrift Shopping



Goodwill San Antonio has excellent, clean dressing rooms with full length mirrors and that is one of the reasons I prefer it over other thrift stores in our area.

We all know it makes a huge difference if we can try the garments on.


Tips for Successful Thrift Shopping



My thrift shopping is always more successful if I have in mind items I am looking for….like books or activities for grandchildren.

Recently, I saw a cute vase in a store and it was pricey, but I went thrifting for something similar and discovered exactly what I was looking for at less than half the cost.

This happens to me often with home decor and party planning.  Mr. B would probably not want me to admit how much is done around here with Goodwill San Antonio treasurers.

But the truth is…I have decorating fun every time I am in the store…including brand new unopened theme napkins and cups…again for kids.

Also, if I am looking for particular types of garments then it helps as well with the clothing.  


Tips for thrift shopping


I know that Wednesdays at Goodwill San Antonio are additional savings days for senior citizens…so I am often seen shopping on a Wednesday.

Also, different colors of tags mean savings.  Sometimes, a $4 garment becomes a $2 garment on certain days.

Make sure to know the days you can receive additional savings.


Tips for successful thrift shopping

I think somewhere deep inside of me is a frustrated fashion designer and thrift stores allow me to have affordable fun and play with it.

Here are my wardrobe shopping tips:

  1. Keep an eye out for expensive details…like buttons. Buttons are expensive and sometimes you can add a fabulous button at the top of a blouse or jacket and completely turn the item around. This button is on a designer dress along with five more and I plan to use them for something.  I think it is fun and beautiful.
  2. I always clean the clothing…either in my laundry room or at the dry cleaners.  Never wear it right out of the store.
  3. Have fun…usually thrift store shoppers are the ones who enjoy playing fashion designer…and this is one way to really enjoy it. 

My last tip is to take your hand sanitizer and use it in store and right after…depending on the condition of your location.  Look your items over carefully and there is just no telling what treasure you will find.

Would anyone like to share a story about a treasure you discovered in a thrift shop?  I love those stories.  And I want to say thank you to Goodwill San Antonio for doing thrift right.

Perhaps this weekend is a good time to stop by…I would guess that most of them have heating!

Enjoy your Friday…I will see you tomorrow with Would You Wear It...and always, always…..


By Pamela Lutrell

Disclaimer:  I am provided Goodwill gift cards for shopping, but the words are my own.

2022 on Over 50 Feeling 40


  1. I have never been thrift shopping but keep thinking I will find a store and shop. I have been dumpster diving once which is somewhat like thrift shopping but free! 😜 I once saw a stack of clothing in a dumpster outside a school where one son was playing basketball. I pulled out several shirts that I wore for some years until they were threadbare. Not quite the same, and my children were probably embarrassed at their mother, but I enjoyed wearing those items. I’m slowly cleaning out several closet right now so some place will get many wearable items.

  2. When I shop Goodwill San Antonio it is supporting a group that helps our community and it is fun. But I still use my five adjectives to look at the clothing and make sure so leave with items that enhance my wardrobe and fit right in. I have never done a dumpster dive.

  3. In this Pandemic, loss of jobs, higher food prices and overall discourse Thrift shopping is more not so much for fun but necessity. I have done it for years and love it.

  4. I agree, Sue. I try to bring many ways for women to still enjoy looking their best. It is empowering for us to be confident and healthy during difficult times. Plus it can put a smile on our faces.

  5. You have hit another favorite topic of mine. I have been a thrift shopper for over 20 years and have found numerous fabulous items. I have a few cashmere sweaters that really have stood the test of time with careful hand washing. I use these stores for jeans for gardening etc. that I would not be upset if they rip or stain. I read so many books that the price in the thrift stores makes it possible to feed my habit. There are days that I walk out with nothing, but then there are days that treasures abound. Some friends would never set foot in one of these stores, but others like myself smile with the wonderful finds for a bargain. Oh, and that necklace you are wearing makes my heart flutter, just gorgeous.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Diane. I even like to think of the stories behind the items…where they lived before me. I know there are those who cringe at this…but it really is so much fun.

  7. I am an occasional thrift shopper, but my 38 year old son is an expert. He began thrift shopping in university, and has continued on. Many people don’t believe him when he tells them where he purchased something, particularly suits, coats and fine sweaters. I am always amazed at the high quality clothing he finds at bargain basement prices. He earns a very good income and does buy some clothing from retailers, but very little. He and his fiancée (also a thrift shopper with a very good income) are now furnishing their new home with thrift store and estate sale finds. You would never guess they are so frugal, and they are always delighted when friends (and their parents) go thrifting with them.

  8. If I didn’t know better, I would swear I wrote this post! You took the words right out of my mouth! Everything you wrote resonates with me. Especially since I have retired, thrift shopping is a fun and productive past time for me. Congratulations on becoming a GW Ambassador. I have admired pieces of your thrifted jewelry on other posts. You have the “eye”. I love to pick up books at Goodwill. After reading them, I pass them on, I’ve even media mailed (low cost USPS book shipping rate) them to a friend in North Carolina (from Illinois) who doesn’t have a local library branch nearby. My best purchases have been purses. I now have and proudly carry a Cole Hahn metallic bag that I paid $4.99 for (retailed over $400.00) and a stone colored Lo & Sons Pearl Handbag that I paid $2.49 for (retails at about $198). The Lo & Sons purchased on a half off and senior discount day. I bought a pair of DKNY SOHO jeans that are no longer made that I would gladly buy 2 pairs of at full price since I love them so much!! I could go on and on, but can’t wait to read other readers comments. Best of all, I feel as if I’m giving back to the community that Goodwill supports.

  9. I am with him, Joan. I love it when someone is surprised I found and item at Goodwill that they believe it brand new from a high end retailer!

  10. So glad we think alike, Deanna! I have some pieces I will never toss because they are unique, stylish and high end. It so much fun when you discover a treasure.

  11. I don’t cringe at all, but I don’t usually thrift, because for me it leads to buying too much stuff. Yes, I would shop with my adjectives, but I’m afraid in the end the prices would sway me into coming home with … something. Many of my jewelry-making friends shop thrift for lambskin leathers, great buttons etc to incorporate into jewelry. Eventually they just get too much and decide to stop. If you have ironclad self-control or a big closet, I do think it’s great for creativity, and also for the budget and planet.

  12. I can see where that would happen to some…that is why I say you should go with a purpose in mind…a spring top, a blue & white vase, etc. If you don’t see what is on your list or see garments that speak your style, then you walk out…like any other big sale. It does take practicing self control.

  13. I have been a thrifter for years..in fact the most designer-y things in my closet ( 2 Giorgio Armani suits, an Hermés scarf, a Chanel top, several St. John pieces, etc) would not be there if it were not for thrift shops! I usually have on at least one thrifted item a day and I am constantly being told what a great wardrobe I have..I am an attorney and recently a younger colleague told me I was the best dressed lawyer in our circuit! That made me feel great. I agree with your tip about going when you have enough time to browse. Some thrift shops have things arranged by color and type which makes things very easy. I recently decided I needed a long sleeve denim shirt and it was a breeze finding several I liked as they were all grouped together. A final note I would make is that “Thrifting” has really caught on with the younger crowd the past few years. My 18 yo daughter loves it as do all her friends. Interestingly, I recently read that the Chicos brand is enjoying younger fans now bc people who had never shopped there are finding their clothes at thrift shops and are now shopping at Chicos.
    Thanks for a great post!

  14. Thanks Frances! My best professional clothing when I worked in an office were found at our Goodwill…brand new Ralph Lauren with tags still on. That is so interesting about the younger generation now discovering Chico’s and shopping at Chico’s because of what they found at thrift stores. Benefit for everyone!

  15. When my mom was alive, we loved to go to thrift shops and consignment shops. A thrift shop was where I discovered chicos as well, probably 20 years ago.

  16. I really enjoy thrifting and often wear outfits that have “high-low” price points. My latest find was a set of brass taper candle holders. They are a perfect accessory for my dining room and look a lot more expensive than what I paid.

  17. I have always thought it would be fun to be someone who decorates homes for sale…so many possibilities. We also have a local eatery that decorated their lobby out of Goodwill and it is eclectic and fun. I would love to see more do that. Thanks Cheryl.

  18. I am the queen of thrifters. One tip I might offer is to shop the opposite season. Summer clothes in the winter and vice-versa. Your “competitors” are most likely looking for things they can wear immediately, so the selection is better. Also, be patient and persistent. You will have to look through a lot of dogs to find that diamond. Thrifting is a great way to experiment with different colors and styles. A week ago I bought a cheery yellow, quirky print blouse at my Goodwill. Not my best color, but it makes me smile. A few dollars well spent.

  19. Great tips for thrifting! Our Goodwill is in pretty sorry shape, but I have some favorite consignment stores but only shop in the ones with dressing rooms and mirrors for clothes shopping. I might add to try a variety of sizes. Often things hit the thrift stores because the sizes weren’t right and someone (raising my hand) can’t stand the hassle of returns. I have found new things often. My best thrift store find was a down Kenneth Cole Reaction jacket for $15. Sized incorrectly, but it fit me and I wore it for years, literally until it started falling apart. You are so right about having time. There are so many “misses” you have to wade through before you find a “but”, and all that trying on takes time. Good tip about the buttons, even if you wouldn’t wear the garment. I just recommended Goodwill to my grandson who is furnishing his first apartment, and then thought of how long it’s been since I’ve gone to thrift stores. You have inspired me!!

  20. So happy to inspire, Karen. You are right about sizing..it is one reason to take time! Good advice to your Grandson!

  21. I am a life long thrifter and always find just what I’m looking for! Recently I’ve noticed the clothes from my GW have a smell that can’t be washed out. I’ve tried vinegar, oxyclean, etc. and the smell lingers. Anyone know what the clothes are sprayed with and how to eradicate the odor?

  22. Hi Robin, I have not noticed it. But I will pass this along to Goodwill and see if they have any answer. I bring mine home and wash or take to dry cleaners right away and I have not noticed any odor at all.

  23. Pamela, thanks for this great post. I am right this minute wearing a black cashmere sweater that I bought for $6 about 25 years ago . Every summer I get out my beautiful straw handbag with the pretty fruit-print lining that I bought about 4 years ago for $8. So fun!!

  24. I too love thrifting. Best purchase — a designer mohair handknit cardigan sweater made In Ireland, lined with silk and with handmade glazed clay buttons. I paid $6.00 twenty years ago and am still wearing it! Thanks for all your posts, Pamela. I enjoy reading them all.

  25. I love thrift store shopping! It’s like an adult treasure hunt. I often stop in to look for books to read, but I always take a look at the clothing and accessories too. You never know what you might find. Earlier this winter, I was keeping my eyes open for a pair of tall black boots and eventually found exactly what I was looking for in my size for just $3! They were practically brand new and should last me for several years.

  26. That’s a great point actually – secondhand shopping is also great for figuring out your style or trying new trends/ colours etc with relatively low risk (cost).

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