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Nine tips to thrift shop like a pro

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

If you love the thrill of the hunt then you probably already frequent thrift shops. The problem with a good idea is that it becomes popular, so with competition high for the best deals you’ll need some tips and tricks to help you hit the jackpot.

Plan before you go. Don’t shop without a goal in mind. Know what you’re looking for so you don’t end up buying items just because they appeal to you at the moment. That’s bad for your budget!

Take cash. Only as much cash as you feel comfortable spending. Small bills are essential. It’s tacky to bargain a shopkeeper down in price then ask for change for a fifty.

Dress for success. Thrifting is dusty business so don’t wear anything precious. Some shops and garage sales won’t have dressing rooms so when shopping for clothing I recommend leggings and a tank top with a loose jacket over it. Now you can try on items without compromising your modesty.

Shop early and shop often. Thrift store merchandise changes hourly and the best deals get snatched up quickly so you have to be in the right place at the right time with cash in hand.

Look for potential not perfection. If you find a piece of clothing you love but it doesn’t fit – get it tailored. Is something the wrong color? Dye or paint it. Horrible picture in a fabulous frame? Ditch the pic and reuse the frame. Great chandelier in a tacky finish? Spray paint it. But know what you’ve got before you do a make-over. When I see someone take a piece of antique furniture and paint it purple I want to go out of my mind. Poof! There went all the value of the piece. If you’re looking to get creative with a piece: check the value first. You can do a quick internet search, right on your smart phone to determine the value.

Try before you buy. Anything electric should be tested before you purchase. Serious shoppers will bring batteries and light bulbs to insure working order. Look at clothing items carefully, looking for stains or tears. Give them a sniff too. Need I say more?

Be nice. Make friends with shop owners. If you’re looking for a particular item or collectable let the sellers know so they can keep an eye out for you.

Negotiate. Large stores run by corporations usually can’t negotiate price but small shops are often willing to bargain with you because they need to purge items to make way for new inventory.

Watch for sales. Even thrift stores have sales. Ask employees about specials and plan your shopping around them. Many stores have a “fill the bag day” or red tag specials. Ask about senior and student discounts. Ask if they have an email list or a Facebook page so you can be notified about sales.

Half of the fun of thrifting is you never know what you’re going to find but with these tips it’s sure to be a treasure that seems made just for you.

Fabulous frugality contributed by Patti Diamond, author of Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Facebook – DivasOnADimeDotCom www.divasonadime.com

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