A Stetson cowboy hat with original box discovered in the Boston area for $5.
Many think treasures researched on WorthPoint originated at high-class auction houses or perhaps are the prestigious collection of an elderly philanthropist. The truth is, many great finds are sourced at thrift stores. While this may be disturbing to some, it is the realistic cycle of many wonderful artifacts both modern and old. If the thought of venturing into a thrift store is revolting to your way of life, you may be missing out on opportunities to develop an inexpensive source of desirable objects.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into the exotic and gritty world of thrifting, we suggest that you be prepared to make the most of the thrift store experience. And contrary to what you may think, the majority of thrift stores do not reek of stale sweat socks.
First, you must be open to entering a bustling place with a variety of people from all walks of life. These patrons run the gamut of hustlers barreling through the aisles chasing the good stuff to leisurely, budget-conscious shoppers strolling at an excruciatingly slow pace while blocking the aisle you wish to pass.
An Isabella Fiore purse purchased at Savers Thrift Store for $6.
Second is the pricing system and often confusing rules. You need to check what forms of payment are accepted and figure out what color tag or type of item is discounted at the time of your visit. It’s not always easy to discern the savings available, but it can make a huge difference to the total bill if you are buying lots of items. Certain days may award special discounts to seniors or military, but many store rules may only allow one type of discount to be used per visit.
Third on the list is to realize that most stores have a variety of departments and you should be open to visiting shelves and racks outside your area of expertise. You may be amazed at what unusual items appear as you wander throughout.
You may be disappointed if you go to the glass area expecting to find Fenton glassware for $1.99 each, but if you look at other items nearby, something may just scream out “Buy me! Buy me!” That is the time to whip out your iPad or other mobile device to check WorthPoint to see if the item has any history of sales and the price ranges. If that is not a winner, the item next to it may be just the thing to entice you to be brave and actually make a purchase.
Here are three items we recently discovered outside our “comfort zone” that resulted in excellent returns:
• An Isabella Fiore purse purchased at Savers Thrift Store for $6 that we sold on eBay for $145;
• A Stetson Cowboy hat with original box discovered in the Boston area for $5 and sold for $102 to a lucky buyer in Australia;
• A Betsey Johnson dress purchased for $7.50 and sold for $60.
Now, take a Look at us:
Bryan Goodman and Jason T. Smith. Do they look like buyers of purses, cowboy hats and Betsey Johnson dresses?
You can see right away that we are not the type of guys who would normally dabble in dresses, purses or cowboy hats. However, we each recognize that with a little research and a lot of confidence, we can use our sixth sense to discover and expand our thrifting paths. Thus, developing additional sales over and above our core thrift store genre of items.
Whether you are using thrift stores to augment your own collections or to purchase for resale, one of the hardest things to overcome is the powerful lure of the thrift store sale. Once you are hooked on this method of shopping, the special sale dates can particularly create a bond to go back again and again. Thrifting during sales hooks you to search and scour for hours, and as the prices drop, the treasures seem much more reasonably attainable. Many die-hard thrift-aholics have been hatched out of the therapeutic euphoria created when finding a whole collection of (fill in your passion here) and quickly glancing left and right to make sure no one else is close enough to pounce on your booty.
A Betsey Johnson dress purchased for $7.50.
Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to shop, and remember to look on the top shelves, the bottom shelves and maybe in other peoples carts (you didn’t hear that from us). Don’t be afraid to “follow” someone around if they are holding a precious gem that you desire, as they may just place it back on a shelf anywhere, or even change their mind at the register.
As you decide to make thrifting part of your sourcing routine, it pays to be friendly with the store workers who just may remember to show you something in the back room that has just arrived or contact you when your style of items land on the dock. When checking out, be courteous and remove hangers, and maybe even bag your own fragile purchases. Make sure you leave enough room in your vehicle to carefully transport items. You may consider bringing boxes to protect the breakable items in transit back to your house. Always ask about any coupons or special sales you should be aware of for your next visit.
Thrifting can be fun and profitable with minimum investment and a little research using tools such as WorthPoint to help make buying decisions easier. Now is the time to venture to your local thrift store for some real-time education and enlightenment. Good luck if this is your first time checking out a thrift store. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Bryan Goodman and Jason T. Smith are Thrifting with the Boys. They are motivational speakers teaching thrift store resourcing techniques at seminars throughout the country. They have a popular Facebook group devoted only to thrifting and have run thrifting excursions around the country.
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