How To Shop at Thrift Stores

An Interview with Pat Veretto, Former About.com Guide to Frugal Living
By Alina Bradford

Photo by Rachel Grandinetti

DM: What are your favorite buys at a thrift store?

Pat: Clothing and kitchen paraphernalia are the two things I look for. I don’t buy many clothes, but when I find just the right style in just the right color, in the size and price that I want, it’s a real thrill. Retail shopping can’t hold a candle to thrift store shopping when it comes to variety! And kitchen things hold their own fascination. Who can resist a full set of 50’s style mugs or a stainless steel garlic press? And where else could you find good a quality cheese slicer for a dollar?

DM: What do you recommend to never buy at a thrift store?

Pat: I would never buy an infant/child car seat because of safety reasons. Ditto, cribs. Almost anything else is ok, but be sure you can test small appliances.

DM: What day of the week (if any) is best to shop a thrift store?

Pat: That depends on which thrift store you shop and if you qualify for any special discounts. One of our stores had “Senior Wednesday” in which senior citizens got an additional discount. Most stores have regular delivery or stocking days which will give you the best choices. Ask, they’ll be glad to tell you.

DM: Do you have a thrift store best buy or horror story?

Pat: I don’t know which would be the best story, but one that comes to mind is when I bought a set of plates, cups and saucers in a certain rather obscure pattern, then a couple of years later, at a different thrift store, I found two large platters, a small platter and dessert plates to match it. The whole set, which we used for years, cost less than ten dollars. I was very happy about that! Other than that, I guess my thrift store shopping has been pretty tame, although I’ve heard of people who have found money in thrift shopped garments. (Or less desirable things!)

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