A distressing byproduct of beginning thrifting is spending too much money on stuff you realize (often as soon as you get home) that you didn’t want in the first place. (A bargain isn’t a bargain if it junks up your living room for six months before you toss it.) Lots of folks abandon thrifting rather than learning how to shop smarter … which is what we’re here for.
The first step towards smarter thrifting? Make a list.
On its surface, listmaking for thrift shopping seems like a bizarre idea, the product of an obsessive and controlling mind. After all, thrifting and grocery shopping (the only other thing I ever make lists for) could not be more dissimilar consumer activities. But I’ve found that making a list helps organize my thrifting trips a bit better, and moreover I find so much more of what I’m actually looking for–and take home a lot less junk. Call it “putting your desires out into the universe” if you will*–it works.
List-making also narrows down your options. Thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, and other repositories of bargains are places of chaos; lists help impose a little order. I shop off my list all the time, but on my best days I do so carefully. On the other hand, if I find a reasonably priced item in good condition that is on my list it’s a no-brainer. If you’ve ever spent ten minutes in a stranger’s garage trying to decide if you really need that sparkly-eyed ceramic squirrel (or an item of similarly debatable utility and taste), you’ll begin to understand the power of the list.
*Just please don’t say it within my earshot.