1. Prepare. Never leave the house without your list and map (see tip 2), hand sanitiser, wet wipes, eco-friendly cloth bags and something to drink. Depending on how long you plan to be out shopping, healthy snacks are also a good idea. You don't want to spend all that money you've saved on pre- packed soggy sandwiches.
2. Make a list. This is really easy. I just google 'op/thrift stores' and the area I'm willing to travel to. You will most likely find that some of the stores on your list will no longer be there or are simply not listed yet. I find that asking around is a great way to find stores. Most shop assistants are happy to point you in the right direction. Make sure you write down times and days each store are open. When you have your list, simply map out the route you're going to travel, and go.
3. Be the "early bird". I've found the best vintage items early Monday mornings. However, this is not always the case. Ive also have found great stuff on a Friday afternoon, but this is rare.
4. Take cash. Though most thrift stores these days have eftpos, taking cash is the best way to keep track of how much you are spending, especially if you have set yourself a budget. Never, never use credit.
5. Don't take the kids. This can be tricky if you have little ones still at home. Try and organise a baby sitter or just go on a day they are in childcare. You don't want to end up with a lot a toys that you'll only have to donate back to the store. If you do take the kids with you, be sure to set them a budget.
6. Quickly grab items that catch your eye. It may not be there later if you take too long to decide, or you might even miss out on something even better elsewhere in the store. Yes, thrift store shopping is getting that competitive :). You can always rethink your purchases before you get to the register. Sometimes I can pick up lots of items but then leave the store without making one purchase.
7. Know what you want. What is it that you are looking for? I really love vintage sheets, so I will go straight to the manchester area as soon as I get in the store.
8. Donate. Not only is this a great way to clear your home of clutter, but it will make you feel good that you're helping out those less fortunate than yourself. You never know, you generosity may even bring you some good luck.
9. Don't get greedy. Do you really need another tea set? In my early days of thrifting I would buy anything vintage I found. These days I will only buy items I really love or that would look great in my store. Just think about how happy you will make another shopper who finds that vintage handbag you leave behind.
10. Go often. This is a no-brainer. You may have beginners luck, but chances are you won't. If you don't find anything the first time, don't be put off, keep searching, that's half the fun.