If you’re anything like me then you always keep an eye out for a good bargain. But, with rising inflation and operational costs, many stores (even the once-cheap Goodwill) are raising their prices. Some donation-based stores are even running a top-tier market where their best stuff is auctioned separately or sold in a “boutique” area of the store. Likewise antique dealers and flea markets have also been raising their prices. If you love antiques and old things this can be a real bummer since the deals can certainly be a big part of the fun.
If you can’t find a bargain at your old standby stores here are a few tips to help you find some of those more elusive secondhand bargains.
Focus on Small Thrift Stores
Many smaller local thrift stores that give a portion of their proceeds to charity will have some amazing deals. These more aid-based shops tend to have nicer things since the people who donate often care about the cause. Local cancer and hospice charities, the Salvation Army, and St. Vincent DePaul are a few of these kinds of stores. Plus, they will often have specials that places like Savers and Goodwill don’t- like half off days where you don’t need a special colored tag or to be a senior to nab a 50% discount.
Go to the Right Stores
If you’re looking for lower prices then shopping at more rural locations can sometimes be the answer. It might be worth driving a bit further to find a store like this. Real estate prices affect everything around them, so more densely-populated places will often have higher prices.
You may also be able to avoid the “pickers” if you choose just the right area. Pickers will scour a shop for the best items, then resell them for as much as possible on eBay or at other venues. Pickers often have a larger budget than a regular shopper so they can afford to buy everything of value they might spot in a day. Best to avoid stores that you know pickers frequent as they can quickly relieve a store of their best stuff. Occasionally you might get lucky and find a store with enough finds to supply the pickers but also to leave something special for the rest of us.
Visit a More Posh Area
I have also found that where there is a lot of both land and money, you can find much higher quality items for the same money you’d pay elsewhere for items that aren’t as well made. Especially at donation-based stores you can find high end clothing, leather goods, shoes, and even antiques at thrift shops. I have bought leather boots for only $10 that cost hundreds of dollars new in shops like these. In a less prosperous area that type of item might never even be up for sale. The prices may or may not be the lowest, but you can often expect higher quality for what you do pay.
Visit Traveling Flea Markets
I recently attended a fair that had a lot of performers and artists. But, they unexpectedly also had a lot of secondhand sellers giving out bargains, too. Many times these sellers are willing to take low offers because they are incentivized to get rid of as much as possible before packing up for the day. This is particularly true for small items like jewelry, lamps, and clothes. But, even larger furniture pieces can be had at great prices when the vendor doesn’t feel like lugging them back into their truck or trailer.
When bargaining cash can be a useful tool. Vendors have to pay a fee when processing your credit card and many are happy to give a discount to their customers to save them the hassle and the fee. You can also use the cash angle as a bargaining chip when you’re down to your last stack. I have found many times that if I only have $7 left on me, that $10 item suddenly falls in price. Many vendors will jump at the chance to sell it faster rather than for more money. There are exceptions, but this is often one of the best methods for getting a great deal.