vintage thrifting – tips & tricks

Do you love to thrift shop? If you do, this post is for you. I love the thrill of the hunt and finding that awesome find! And like everything in life, having a strategy always helps, which is the reason I am sharing these tips & tricks for thrifting today.

vintage thrifting tips & tricks

I mainly thrift shop for household items, but these thrifting tips & tricks can also apply to clothing, electronics and other thrift shopping categories. This is my latest haul and please know it’s a very large haul for me.

thrifting tips & tricks

It’s actually from two different local Hospice thrift shoppes, because they were running a sale on all things vintage last week. I was not aware of the sale when I popped into the first store. I simply popped in because it was close to where I got my manicure. See how this works?

vintage thrifting tips & tricks

Anyway, when I found out they were running a vintage sale over a few days, I popped into another local Hospice thrift store the following day to see what vintage household items they had before the sale ended. And Viola, here is my total haul from both shoppes.

tips & tricks to keep in mind while thrift shopping

1. Keep a running list

Always have a list of items you are looking for and interested in. For example, vintage sheet music that is aged and yellowed is always on my list. You can read about ways I use vintage sheet music in these posts {sheet music tabletop}, {floral cone bouquets DIY}, {woodland autumn mantel}.

vintage thrifting

2. Know pertinent measurements

Along with the list also have any measurements for the items you are looking for if it’s important. For example, if you’re looking for a mirror over a certain dresser or mantel, make sure to measure the space and have the dimensions with your list.

3. Scan the store quickly

I tend to scan the store first to see if anything grabs my eye right away, and then I go back and look at everything slower and in more detail. During these scans I get a feel for what’s available and it sets the tone for the thrifting experience. Sometimes I see a ton of stuff I like as in these recent shopping experiences, but other times I simply leave right away since I am not “feeling” it.

vintage decor

4. Grab items right away even if unsure

While scanning the store grab anything that catches your eye or you think you might be interested in. Once you are done perusing the aisles, you can then review everything in your cart and decide if you want it or not. Since you grabbed it, you do not run the risk of someone else snatching it up while you’re mulling it over.

5. Know your brands and makers

Since I buy many tabletop items, I am always turning them over and checking out the markings. There are certain manufacturers that I covet and others that I shy away from. For example, I was on the look out for Limoge accent plates for a long time, and I finally found some; you can read all the details here {stylish St. Patrick’s day tablescape}.

vintage shopping

6. Be informed about store schedules and sales

It’s good to know the days thrift stores restock, and also when they are running any discount sales. For example, this vintage sale afforded a great discount on items I might sometimes find too pricey. Also since it was a vintage sale the store made sure to be chock full of vintage items, providing a better selection than ususal.

7. Thrift shop in other areas

Merchandise in thrift stores is dictated by the demographics of the area providing the donations. That’s why sometimes I travel a bit to go to thrift shops in other areas, which provides a different mix and price of products. I use to do this more often in my consigning days, since I needed a constant flow of fresh pieces. Now I try to hit thrift shops when traveling for different experiences. Check out this post {why you should always thrift shop while on the road}.

thrift shopping

8. Look beyond the item for potential

Many times I buy items that I know I will upcycle or alter in some way. Thrift stores are full of dated and worn pieces that have seen better days, but sometimes you have to look past their current state and focus on the potential of the piece. Paint is magical for this, which I shared here {how to upcycle thrifted items with paint}.

9. Be in the mood

To be honest sometimes I walk into thrift stores and walk right out. It might be that the initial scan didn’t catch anything, but other times I am just not “feeling” it. I really have to be in the mood and have the time. During successful thrift outings, I usually sweep the store about three times. I take time to look at the details and check carefully for defects. Always have the motivation to inspect items and dedicate the time to study pieces so you don’t have buyer’s remorse later, since thrift items are non returnable.

vintage thrifting tips & tricks

details of this thrifting haul

For these particular shopping experiences I chose the items based on a few different reasons.

vintage styling props

1. Some items are additions to current collections I already have going on, like the S&P shakers, pewter pieces and silver-plate.

2. Other pieces I bought with future projects in mind like the romantic, pink floral pieces (think Valentines’s day).

3. This was the first time I bought particular “styling pieces” since I have been inspired by my new found friend Robin Zachary who published “Styling Beyond Instagram”. It’s a fabulous book and I highly recommend it.

4. One item compliments an existing piece I already own. The small milk glass ruffled bowl is the perfect compliment to my MIL’s milk glass cake plate.

5. And some items are just cool new inspiration. For example the copper trimmed silhouette just had to come home with me. I love silhouettes, but I do not necessarily collect them or have a purpose for this one. You willl definitely see her around though.

vintage thrifting tips & tricks

If you don’t want to miss out on any of the upcoming projects you can subscribe to receive all my new posts to your in-box.

why thrift shop?

It’s economically sound

Thrift shopping always yields a great value on items you might not necessarily pay regular retail pricing. Granted these items are used but sometimes this doesn’t really matter since the items are in great condition. Or the fact that they are used gives them wonderful patina and distressing that sometimes takes years to develop.

It’s environmentally conscious

Buying reused items is good for our planet since it recycles items others have used, and it keeps more things out of our land fills. I love to upcycle, recycle, and reuse items whenever possible.

It provides extraordinary pieces

Since thrifted items have already had a life before you find them, they have a story to tell, which tends to make them unique. Many of the thrifted items I find and choose would probably not be items I would select as new. It makes the process of thrift store shopping super interesting and provides unique looks. These thrifting tips & tricks helps me maximize these experiences.

vintage thrifting tips & tricks

last thoughts on thrifting tips & tricks

You can see some of the price tags on select items in this post. You will notice some of the pricing is reasonable, but others I found too high. I only picked up these higher items because of the discount. I always weigh how much I love | want an item versus the price tag. There are those rare instances where I absolutely love a piece or I have been searching high&low for it, where the price sometimes does not matter (within reason of course).

vintage decor

Please keep in mind this is the way I thrift shop, and it’s just advice from my thrifting experiences. Take the tid bits that apply to your thrifting world, and I hope it helps in some way. Have these thrifting tips & tricks left you in the mood to treasure hunt? I hope so!

“The thing about being vintage is that it never goes out of fashion.”

Anthont T Hincks

sharing @ between naps on the porch


  1. These are great tips! I love all your thrifted goodies. There are some great finds!

    1. Thanks so much Anna! I haven’t thrifted in awhile so I came home with more than the norm. But I have thrifted for years. I love the hunt!!! XO- MJ

    2. Laurie says:

      I appreciate these tips. I don’t always lol for vintage items—that is a recent hobby, so I’m new to it all.

      I’m sharing/featuring this post at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop tomorrow.

      God bless!


  2. Rachel says:

    Wow!! What a HAUL!!! Everything you found is amazing and how lovely they were having a sale 🙂 Thanks SO much for linking up at the Home Imagined link party, MaryJo!

    1. Thanks Rachel. Yes, they had me at vintage. lol. Thanks for stopping by. XO- MJ

  3. Kathy A says:

    Oh, you and I like a lot of the same things; I have read several of your posts back-to-back. Old dishes with pink roses, siloiuettes,cobalt and milk glass, old figurines, blue transferware, dollhouse sized treasures all call my name! My thrifting is still cheaper than smoking cigarettes! I really enjoyed seeing your treasures!

I love hearing from you!