I'm writing this long overdue guide with the hopes that you find a new found love for thrifting and possibly learn something from it & me. I get asked a ton of questions about how I find specific things or what my strategy is when it comes to thrifting. Now, I sat my happy ass down and typed this "Thrift Bible" for all of you to read! I really hope this helps, and I would love to hear if it does or if you find anything fantastic after reading this!
Figuring out the best time to thrift is definitely based on the location you thrift at. Some stores have a specific time that they put fresh product out on the floor. Others just replenish throughout the day. Ask someone that works at the thrift store what their schedule is. This will help to make sure you get first dibs on the "new" stuff. Normally the best days to thrift are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. People usually donate on the weekend and they need a few days to go through and price so you're safe going at the beginning of the week.
Something else that has changed thrifting is social media. Most thrift stores now have an Instagram or Facebook page where they share their sales or colored tags that are 99 cents or less. This has helped me figure out when to go or what store would be the best to spend some time in.
Best times to thrift: early in the morning, store specific sale days, when you're traveling, warmer months (people won't donate in a blizzard)
Worst times to thrift: Friday or Saturday, with a huge group of people, In-season clothing (shopping for summer during summer)
I've already shared a few of my thrift finds that I changed slightly to fit my style. I've had a few pieces that I loved when I tried on, but realized I needed to fix a few things to make it more me. Don't be afraid to change the buttons, cut out the shoulder pads, hem the dress for a different look. I live by a very strict rule, if I can truly figure out what I want to do to change it, I'll buy it. If I can't pinpoint exactly what I want to do with it, or I know I won't get to it for a few weeks, I won't buy it. I've had my fair share of projects left in a pile I didn't touch for months. Those normally end up getting re-donated or collect dust and take up space.
I will admit, this was a hard rule for me to follow. I used to shop at the fast fashion clothing stores and think that anything that was $5 or less was a must buy, even if I knew I really wouldn't wear it. Now when I shop I shy away from those pieces because I'll promise myself I'll wear it and I never do. Sticking to this rule is hard, but if you can't think of an outfit you could wear the piece with within a week or two, don't buy it.
I also will hold on to a few pieces that I'm on the fence about and walk around the store. Usually within a few minutes I'll know if I need it or not. If it doesn't make you excited to style it, then you don't need it.
I hate leaving a store without looking through almost everything. It might be time consuming or even scary to think about, but you honestly never know what you will find. I even look in the sections that aren't my size because like stated earlier, you can hem or tailor it! I personally love going to thrift stores that are color coordinated because I wear certain colors and shy away from others (pink and yellow aren't friendly to me).
Something you might want to do is think about what you are looking for before and spend the most time in those sections. If you want to set a specific amount of time you spend in each thrift store this will help to not get sucked into one store all day.
Once again, this is all location based. When I first started out I stuck to the ones everyone knew, Goodwill and Salvation Army. Now that thrifting is super trendy and here to stay, more and more shops are popping up. One tool that's helped me the most? Google Maps or Apple Maps. I literally typed in "thrift store" to my maps app and it pulls up some I never even knew existed. I even found some of my favorite thrift store all by chance, because the day I drove by they had a sidewalk sale full of great things.
Think about what you are looking for before heading out. I have a running list on my phone of things I might want to buy, whether it be furniture or clothing. I always head to the thrift store first before I shop online or in a retail store. You honestly never know what you'll find at a thrift store, and I'm all about saving money but still looking chic. There has been a ton of times I've found brand new, on-trend items at the thrift store. It really is about patience and sometimes luck! Don't get too upset if you don't find something, I've had plenty of days where I didn't find a single thing I loved. Also remember, you DON'T have to buy something every time you go thrift. If it doesn't fit or feel right then don't buy it.
I've learned that there are specific stores that I have the best luck in different categories. These are both nationwide stores and Omaha specific.
Thrift World, New Life Thrift, Goodwill, Scout Dry Goods
Salvation Army, Goodwill, New Life Thrift
Goodwill, New Life Thrift, Imaginarium
Goodwill, Thrift World, New Life Thrift
McMillian Antiques, New Life Thrift, Junk-n-Treasure, Dundee Flea
Imaginarium, New Life Thrift, Dundee Flea, Jim's Seek & Save
So I asked those of you that follow me on Instagram for specific questions you would like answered.
How to decide what to buy? - I always check the quality of the clothing, making sure it doesn't have holes, snags, or really bad stains. If it's something small like a missing button or a seam has a hole, then I'll buy it if I'm willing to fix it. Buying a simple sewing kit can help you a lot when it comes to fixing up a near perfect thrift find.
Where can I find decade pieces (60's, 70's, 80's etc.)? - I always have luck at antique stores that carry clothes over a thrift store. Antique stores can go back decades with what they have. I feel like thrift stores are okay, but they don't always have a ton of decade items. Imaginaruim on 16th & Leavenworth in Omaha is a dream for decade pieces. They have a wide variety of items, you just have to take the time and look.
Where can I find men's business attire? - This is a tricky one, but I feel like the places that have the best men's items are Goodwill, Salvation Army, Scout Dry Goods, and New Life Thrift. Men's clothing sections are always smaller but these stores have the larger section for men.
When it comes to thrifting, Omaha has been a fun place to explore. It took me a few months, but I finally have a good hold on the best places, best times, and some tips & tricks.
I haven't been to every single thrift store in Omaha, but I have found a few tried & true spots I always go to.
New Life Thrift (7007 S 36th St) - Probably the one I go to the most. This store always has some great finds, both clothing and furniture. It's organized by style (short sleeve, long sleeve, jeans etc.). Also, this store is pretty big. I tackle it by going to the decor and furniture section first, then the back wall of dinnerware. I finish off with the clothing section. The nice thing about this store is they have pull tabs for the furniture so if you find a piece you love right away you just pull the tag and let them know.
Salvation Army (2525 Dodge St) - A hidden gem I love to go to. I've found some great tops and shoes here, and they have everything organized by style of item like New Life Thrift. their men's section isn't huge, but they do have some good pieces here. I also love shopping for jewelry here.
Goodwill (1850 Madison Ave CB,IA) - This Goodwill is actually over the river, but I love searching here for jeans, tops, and decor. They don't have a ton of bigger furniture, but they have a wide range of decor to search through. They also have a whole back wall dedicated to plus size.
Goodwill (201 N 78th St) - I find some good clothes and shoes at this location. The do have a hefty amount of decor and some good furniture. It's in a strip mall so there is plenty of parking, and Style Encore is down the street, so if a customer doesn't sell their gently used clothes to them they normally venture down and donate to Goodwill. It's a win-win in my book.
Imaginarium (801 S 16th St) - Be prepared to be overwhelmed at first, and make sure you allot enough time at this store to go through everything. IT'S HUGE. They have it organized somewhat based on item type, but I believe they used to have a vendor system so you can find jewelry next to an old radio. The man that runs this is super friendly and they even have a punch card for frequent shoppers. I love this store for the decade pieces, old trinkets, jewelry, and furniture.
Thrift World (5125 S 24th St) - This is the store that started the "thrift then fajita" era in my life, my friend Cori can attest to that. This is another store that is organized by item. I start by walking the side and back wall of decor and then tackle the clothing. I've found some great denim, tops, and decor here. They only have one fitting room so be prepared to wait if you go on a busier day. They also don't have a ton of floor space for big furniture, so if that's what you're searching for I would go elsewhere.
Junk-n-Treasure (3504 Leavenworth St) - This store has strange hours so make sure it's open before you venture this way. I love shopping here for furniture and decor. This is another eclectic store, so there really isn't a ton of rhyme or reason for where things are. It is two buildings connected with a walkway so be sure to check both sides! The owner is great and always willing to make a deal.
Jim's Seek & Save (4679 Leavenworth St) - If you ever drive down Leavenworth and see a store with a bunch of furniture on the sidewalk, that's this place. It's another eclectic store with items all the way to the ceiling. They have a back room with a bunch of old records and cassette tapes. I love searching for decor here! They even have a separate building behind the original one, and if you're lucky they'll take you back there. The two gentlemen that work here are so nice and definitely worth supporting.
If you're planning a day to go thrifting, figure out where you want to go before you leave. I know I sometimes frantically search for my next location because thrift stores are only open for a certain amount of time. Make a game plan for stores that are close by each other to get the most out of your time.
Bring a friend that can constructively criticize anything you're questioning. I know I would have passed on a few items I bought if I had a friend to tell me, "No, MacKenzie you don't need another basket or vase".
I love thrifting right after work, around 5. This also helps prevent me from driving in rush hour traffic to get home.
Cheers to thrifting, both for you and the environment.