I’ve long been a lover of thrifting and antiquing—for home decor, furniture, clothing, kids’ toys, and more. While the process may take a little longer, I think it’s well worth the extra time and energy. There are so many high-quality, unique pieces to be found secondhand.
Over time, I’ve developed a go-to process that helps me navigate the world of thrifting and antiquing with more ease and intention.
Today I’m sharing my tips for shopping at thrift and antique stores.
1. Know what you’re looking for.
It’s so helpful to have a list written down before you step foot in a thrift or antique store. This will help you stay focused on the things that will actually add value to your life and not get distracted by things that will only become extra clutter. In my most recent thrifting trip, I was specifically searching for a new pair of jeans and a white button-up shirt, which helped me hone in my search in the store. I consider a Pinterest board a “list” as well, so if you’re a visual person, that might work for you too.
2. Do a lap.
Take a quick lap around the sections where you’re most likely to find what’s on your list. Add things to your cart that catch your attention. Then go back to certain aisles where you think you might find something really specific and want to dig a little deeper. Take a little more time on this second look, because sometimes you might miss things on the first lap.
3. Edit ruthlessly.
Once you’ve made your way through the store, edit down your cart and return anything to the shelves that you don’t truly need/want. Ask yourself a couple of questions and get specific in your answers.
- Where would I display or store this item in my home?
- If it’s a piece of clothing, how would this fit into my everyday outfits?
- Has this item been on my list for a while or is it something I only just now decided I wanted?
I’ve come across so many great things while thrifting and antiquing, but many of them were items I didn’t actually need at the moment. While the lower price points at many of these stores may be tempting, the reality is that if you don’t edit down what goes in your cart, you’ll probably end up with some things you don’t actually use.
4. Be consistent.
The more regularly you go thrifting or antiquing, the better you’ll become at navigating each store and narrowing in on the pieces you really want to bring home. I often like to go to a few stores in one afternoon to make the most of my time. On other occasions, I only have fifteen minutes to spare, so I’ll bop through a store and quickly browse one specific section. Either way, consistency is important when it comes to thrift and antique shopping.
5. Accept the process.
Sometimes when I go to a thrift or antique store, I don’t find anything to bring home. That’s okay. You’ll find the items on your list when you find them—you can’t rush the process. Thrifting and antiquing are about the hunt. For me, it’s about finding unique pieces that will bring personality and character to my home or wardrobe. And when I find something I love, it’s well worth the time and effort that may have gone into the search.
6. Bring something to donate when you go.
If you’re going to a thrift store that accepts donations, make the most of your trip and bring something (or a couple of things) to donate when you go.
7. Don’t go on an empty stomach.
Last but certainly not least: If you can help it, never go thrifting or antiquing on an empty stomach (or thirsty, for that matter). Sifting through aisles and aisles of goods requires energy and it will be a much more enjoyable experience if you’re satiated beforehand. Trust me on this.
These are a few of my favorite local spots to go to:
- Goodwill: Roseville, White Bear Lake, Arden Hills
- Savers: Columbia Heights, Woodbury
- Missouri Mouse Antiques
- Art & Architecture
- H&B Gallery Antiques
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dogs. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.