Score big at secondhand stores

Stretch your money and time with these savvy shopping ideas.

Before you go:

  • Check the calendar: Call in advance to see if your local store holds regular sales or discount periods such as “dollar bag days.”
  • Join the cyber club: Sign up for e-newsletters, become a Facebook fan and follow stores on Twitter to catch exclusive discounts and last-minute sales.
  • Research location: If you’re looking for chic clothes, go to a shop near an affluent neighborhood. To find a list of retailers by town, visit thethriftshopper.com.
  • Consider timing: A surge of donations usually occurs at the end of each season, when people clean out their closets.
  • Visit online: If you don’t have the time to scour the racks, skip the store entirely and head to shopgoodwill.com.

At the store:

  • Dress to shop: Wear form-fitting pieces, like leggings and a T-shirt, so you can try on clothes at the rack.
  • Get it or regret it: If something catches your eye in the fast-paced world of thrifting, throw it in your basket before someone else grabs it, then decide if you really need it before checking out.
  • Consider extra costs: Minimal tailoring can be worth it, but avoid spending more on repairs than you paid for the item.
  • Be prepared: Don’t enter a thrift shop without these musts: cash (many don’t take credit cards), a tape measure (to check the size of clothes when labels are missing), latex gloves (for digging though large piles of items) and enough time to browse.