You are currently viewing Thrifting 101: How to become a pro-thrift shopper according to thrift store workers themselves

Thrifting 101: How to become a pro-thrift shopper according to thrift store workers themselves


Everyone knows that thrift shopping is a helpful option when trying to find cute, useful or vintage items for an affordable price. It’s also well-known that donating to thrift shops is a great way to declutter and help the environment. 

However, thrifting can be overwhelming when trying to decide where to look, what to donate and what price to pay. 

When deciding what to donate, it is important to ensure that all items can still be used by others. For clothing items, it is important to notice any holes, stains or other damages that are not meant to be there. If the item has any of these flaws, it is best to not donate them. 

Will Boggs, Marketing Manager for Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) thrift store, said to “make sure that all donations are functional.” 

This includes ensuring that electronic items will turn on and work properly. It is also important to only donate items you do not need anymore. Once you donate an item, there is a chance you will not be able to get it back, so make sure you are ready to part with it.  

At times, it can be difficult to shop at thrift stores. A common fear is that thrift stores will not have items the shopper needs. Susan Unbehaun, Executive Director at The Ladies of Charity Thrift Store in Knoxville, shared that sometimes you just have to look a little harder.

“If you have patience, most items will end up in the thrift store for sale,” Unbehaun said.

No matter what item you are looking for, there is a large chance that it can eventually be found in a thrift store. It is also important to note that thrift shops constantly have donations being checked and added to the floor, so the items can oftentimes change daily. 

“Come to the stores consistently since we are getting new donated items each day and putting unique items on the store floor,” Boggs said. 

Many shoppers are scared that they will be overwhelmed with the large number of diverse items in thrift stores. It is important to know what you need or are interested in before visiting a thrift store. This will allow you to know where to begin looking and lower the stress. 

“Keep a list of items you are looking for so when you go to your … store, your eyes will be open,” Cindy Dodson, Special Events and Marketing Coordinator with Goodwill Industries-Knoxville Inc, said.

It is also important to know what time of the year is best to thrift shop. Many thrift stores have a wider selection in the springtime because many families participate in spring cleaning. Many good finds and deals can also be found after important holidays. 

“Don’t forget to stop in after any holiday. There are many people who will discard holiday decorations, and you might be lucky enough to find an entire new look for your next holiday for pennies,” Dodson said. 

There are other benefits to thrift shopping besides finding cheap, unique goods. Many thrift shops help a charity.

The main mission at Goodwill Inc. is “to change lives and strengthen families by helping people reach their full potential through community-relevant job training, work experiences, and career services,” Dodson said. 

The Ladies of Charity Thrift Store uses their profits to support families in need of food, clothing, baby supplies and more. KARM works closely with the homeless and those in crisis situations. Many people choose non-profit thrift stores over for-profit thrift stores because they are helping the community by doing so. 

“The regular customers say they like to shop here because it supports a good cause,” Unbehaun said. 

Thrift shopping is also good for the environment. Donating and purchasing old items allows there to be less waste produced and lowers the demand for new items to be manufactured, lowering environmental effects from production. 

Goodwill Inc. has partnered with Dell for the Dell Reconnect Program. Through this program, the two corporations are helping the environment by collecting household computers and related items to recycle them securely and responsibly. 

Thrift shopping can often be difficult, but it is one of the best ways to go shopping. Remember these tips and tricks on your next thrift shopping journey or donation run, and you will have no problems finding great deals or making the donation sorting easier for workers.