When to Thrift

when to thrift

Wait. Isn’t ANYTIME a good time to thrift? Well, yes, especially in this world of fast-fashion and consumer waste. But there are a few timing-related factors to consider.

Toward the beginning of the season

Even if you’re a bargain-hunter extraordinaire who waits until garments have been marked down at least three times before pouncing, consider thrifting at the beginning of the season instead of the end. Thrift store items are so much cheaper than retail, even at “full price,” and if you thrift when the season is just beginning you’ll get first pick of new offerings. Waiting for markdowns will mean better bargains, but as the season begins to peter out, so do the seasonally appropriate offerings. Get shopping while the getting’s good.

On the day the floor gets restocked

Of course, thrift stores are generally in a constant state of receiving, processing, marking, and selling donated goods. So do seasonal shifts really matter? Well, yes, because donations generally follow seasonal shifts and if you want to thrift a winter coat right now you might be out of luck. But if you’re just looking for good stuff, season be damned, shop on restock day. The most recent batch of donations will hit the sales floor, and you can cherrypick to your heart’s content.

On holidays and sale days

In Minneapolis, virtually all federal and national holidays mean 50% off at the major thrift chains. In addition, most stores will do 50% off a certain color price tag once per week. For the most bargainous of bargains, shop on holidays or sale days.

So how on earth are you supposed to know when these things take place? Why, by asking your friendly thrift store employees, of course! They want you to shop with them, so they’ll be more than happy to share seasonal, stock, and sale-related dates.

When is YOUR favorite time to thrift?

Image courtesy empracht.

  • http://sandpaperkissesblog.wordpress.com Nout

    my strategy for thrifting is to go as often as possible. I try to hit up my favorite stores once a week. I definitely notice that good stuff comes in waves and I’ve had the best luck in the fall but I still enjoy going as often as I can. Unfortunately, the largest thrift chains where I live never do sales.

  • http://www.practicalparalegalism.com The Good Will Hunting Paralegal

    I like to go after work, because weekends are so crowded. I also like to check my fave thrift stores regularly. Sometimes I just walk around to relax, look at interesting styles and fabrics, and then leave. Truly thrifty retail therapy :)

  • Leslie

    I go on Wednesdays– our local Salvation Army has 50% off on 4 of the 5 colored tags they use. It’s a little busier than other days, but it’s DEFINITELY worth it!! I usually take the opportunity to swing by my favorite Goodwill on the same day, since it’s right down the road.

    Also– when you donate, be sure to ask if they give coupons! Our local Goodwill does– a 20% off your purchase coupon for EVERY donation. So… if you’ve got a few boxes, and can go a few days in a row, why not get multiple coupons? ;-)

  • Marsha

    Another good time to thrift is right after the new year. People make last-minute donations in late December so they can claim them on their itemized taxes for that year. Some of the items appear to be brand-new Christmas gifts that weren’t wanted. Most of the thrift stores around me are overloaded by mid-January and there’s not as many customers as people are trying to recover from the holidays.

  • Molly

    The Goodwill stores in Cincinnati publish a calendar of their daily sales, which include such gems as “$2.99 for dresses and jeans day,” “99 cent t-shirt day” and “half off just about everything” day. Fridays and Saturdays are usually half off days, so they’re packed. So I go on sale days and shop for whatever is on sale, and I only pay full price if there’s something I MUST HAVE. Sometimes I will see something I like that is full price and leave it behind, intending to return for it when it is on sale. Last cheap dress day, I left with 6 dresses for $18 (usually $7 each). When an item is dirt cheap, I’m willing to take a gamble on being able to remove a stain or repair a small hole or broken zipper. I love going when nobody else is there, but I can’t resist a half price sale and I’m willing to endure the crowds for some bargains.

  • Sarah

    I used to only go to my local thrift store on sale days, but I’ve found that I have better luck (and there’s less chance of me beating someone to death for cutting the changing room line) if I go on weeknights. I don’t get the half-off sales but I do get to shop in peace without having to fight with other shoppers, bang into carts, wait in line forever to try on and check out, and park four miles away.

    True story: I got threatened with a knife once in my local thrift store when some dude with eyebrow tattoos tried to cut in front of about 8 people who had been waiting patiently in line. No one else was saying a word (eyebrow tattoos have that effect, I’ve found) but I was having a bad day and not having any of that ish. I told he could cut me all he wanted but he still wasn’t taking my place in line. He ended up being removed from the store by the police, and I got to try on my clothes. Thrifting in Baltimore is no joke.

    • Leslie

      You, Madam, are my Thrifting Hero. ;-) What a badass!

  • http://chiralcraft.wordpress.com Laura

    Maybe it’s because I live in a place that doesn’t have dramatic seasons (SF area) but I haven’t noticed most of my local thrift stores putting away the out-of-season clothes, just maybe putting them in the back. In fact, I’ve scored better stuff out of season because, I assume, that not many people are trolling the sweater section in July and all the recent donations are likely to stick around longer. The consignment stores here are definitely more seasonal/event focused, like retail stores.

    I have a flexible schedule so I am able to go to the thrift store on weekdays, which I much prefer to nights and weekends which are much busier. Although then you have to deal with the stay at home moms and grandmas who have several small children in tow – nothing against kids, but they understandably get bored and start running around the store when forced to hang around a thrift store for an hour or two. Same with sale days, which are usually on weekends and holidays – it gets too crazy busy, the small difference in price is not worth the agita for me.

  • http://moretimetowrite.com Mindy

    On your recommendation, Sally, I’ve been venturing into thrift store much more often. I was always afraid of them—my mom valued time over a bargain—and so I’m still learning my way around. I started with easy stuff, belts and purses, and the last time I went, I found a few shirts. I’m even wearing one now! Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Molly

    My local, smaller thrift store puts a lot of effort into its displays, and that can mean holding onto donated items in order to group them. The most striking example is at the beginning of the winter holiday season, when they put out several racks of holiday party clothes. For those who are interested, that’s the time to score long gowns, beaded mother-of-the-bride type jackets, fancy wraps, the occasional tux, etc.

    This store does the same with other items: pastels going into spring, winter coats and leather jackets in the fall, etc. Other smaller, more curated stores might be similar.

  • SevenSixOne

    I find the best stuff between February and April, and I think it’s because of New Years’ Resolutions– so, so many people resolve to lose weight, make over their style, and/or become more organized. If any of those resolutions are successful, they’ll end up with a bunch of stuff for Goodwill a few weeks into the new year. It seems like the bounty starts to dry up around May, probably because those same people have gotten as far as they can with their resolutions or dropped them entirely.

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  • http:www.mydailycostume.com elle

    I am happy to have found this site! I “thrift” when my friends are free to join me ( rather than a certain time of day or season) and we make it a social-shopping event. Some of my best pieces are thrift store finds: last week i got a printed silk etro skirt for $12.00 in perfect condition, that retails for about$1600. I post often with thrift store finds. It is the ultimate” no guilt shopping spree” and a good way to recycle. looking forward to reading more here.
    XX, Elle
    http://www.mydailycostume.com

  • http://themeladermreview.com Angie C

    I loved reading this post about thrift shopping because my daughters and I are avid “thrift” shoppers. However, we live in Australia and we call them “Op Shops” (opportunity or charity shops). When we travelled in the States a few years ago we went to a store in Colorado which I think was called Savers? We found the most awesome snow boots and ski gear to fit out the whole family and it was SO cheap. Our thrift shops don’t regularly carry this type of gear. (Of course the kids grew out of the boots in time so, back in Australia, I sold them at a profit on Ebay!)