A Quick Guide to Thrifting


Joon Echols, Senior Staff Writer

As someone whose majority of their possessions are from thrift stores and garage sales, I’m always on the look-out to find the next piece of my collection, and I’m not the only one. 

Thrifting, Antiquing, or whatever you want to call it can be a hobby or lifestyle for many people. Whether someone’s a reseller, collector, or enjoyer of old and rare finds, that last one describes me well. The act is such an enjoyable experience that I’m already beginning to track and survey what the Summer Thrifting scene will be like where I live; so far everything looks good. 

However those new to it don’t know what to expect out in the wild. Don’t worry, even diehard thrifters still struggle to find the right place to scavenge through. So let me try to help. 

While I may not have the Country’s Goodwills listed on a map there are certain places more preferable to others when looking for a good deal or something that doesn’t involve being under a boiling sun all day; it’s all fun and games until the sun decides to look for knickknacks with you. Below I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of places where anyone can go when the urge to thrift arises.




Antique Malls

Vastly different from the stereotypical outdoor adventures, thrifters can look for the items they most desire while not having to worry about constantly reapplying sunblock; step inside and experience the wonderful sensation of indoor cooling. 

While doing so one is hit by both, the aforementioned temperature, and the endless shelves stocked-full of priceless goods from ancient civilizations lost to the sands of time ranging to the newest model of computer from Best Buy. That may be a bit of a dramatization; most of the items for sale in antique malls are older, more vintage pieces. 

As the name implies, the most impressive feature of an antique mall is its size. As one begins to wander the treasure trove they must learn to keep a sturdy map at hand, or at least a sense of direction, of where they came from. There are twists and turns a-plenty veering off into side rooms; even back into the great outdoors. Yet as I preach to you this method the first time I ever used it was just last week, what a hypocritical teacher; please reader, learn from my mistakes.

Instead of donations or long-forgotten keepsakes falling into the hands of the owners of these establishments, these associations get their products through private vendors that are given a percentage of, what previously was, their items sale, and because of that the price doesn’t have to be based on anything. Neither actual value nor calculated value but what the vendor and antique mall owner believes is fair. Which may not always be true to us shoppers. 

Occasionally vendors will be unaware of their product’s value allowing one to walk away with a good-condition item that won’t break the bank. More often than not though the price is firm and walking away is better; at least the likelihood of returning and that item still being there is possible. A good incentive towards budgeting and/or saving up some money for those that are just learning how to do so.

Antique Malls Nearby:

Peddlers Antiques

Ontario Mall Antiques Corporations




Donation Center

What thrifting list would be complete without the old reliable second-hand outlet of Goodwill and the Salvation Army. 

I probably should’ve started this list with a good classic, but, like I said, not a single aspect of this list had any form of prior-planning or genuine organization. Much like the stores themselves. While they attempt to establish an order of sorts more likely than not a book will end up in the kitchenware section, or an article of clothing haphazardly shoved within the overflowing shelves of knickknacks. 

Despite their organizational attempts there are quite a few actions that don’t even try whatsoever. I guarantee anyone who’s walked into a Goodwill know the familiar set-up of the knickknack shelf followed by the vases, followed then by an amalgamation of holiday-themed decor and various larger scale items, a mesh of office supplies and even more random accessories; then to books, which has to be their second largest collection of things by far. The first being clothing and accessories. 

Overlooking all that is the absolute spectacular price of it all. Search on Amazon, or at Barnes & Nobles, and you’ll admit that maybe audiobooks aren’t too bad, it’s less expensive after all but not to worry my friend there’s an alternative. 

At Goodwill you can find cheaper versions of anything and everything; one might even be able to find a Louis Vuitton handbag for less than 10 bucks. However with deals like that I suggest you grab that special find and quick as the price you find so appealing will also be so to others. I can think of no place with a better first come first serve policy than here.

Be warned though not every Salvation Army and Goodwill is equal, some locations price their products higher than others, taking a bit of the glamor away.

Donation Centers Nearby:






Why yes, technology has evolved so that thrift shopping can be done online without leaving the comfort of your home. As the world keeps modernizing and revolutionizing technology has continued to stretch and reach far beyond the planes of human comprehension. What a wonderful age we live in.

There now exist hundreds of apps to choose from where one can list and sell an item or search for something to buy; at the click of a button no less. Of the thousands and millions most popular is Ebay and while some cheer and whoop for its mention others are more skeptical of it. How can someone be trusted with your money when you can’t physically see them accept your transaction than package your item. For all we know these people are probably scammers just bent on taking without giving.

To be fair I understand the argument against it, with so many unknown variables why use such a thing? Well, there are a few examples to list that can persuade thee trust. Bargain, comfort, and price oh my, I assure you there is a rainbow at the end of this storm.

While there are many examples I can use, regarding apps, let’s just use and reference Ebay. Why worry about set-in-stone prices when Ebay allows one to dispute the initial price and substitute their own. Try your best to argue the price until it’s low enough to be satisfactory, unless it’s a challenge that you’re after; then look for live auction items which have a set date for when the highest bidder is chosen, out of the many, and given the, now their, grand prize.

Not to mention the ultimate advantage, staying inside. It’s well known I’m not the biggest fan of sunlight, so when the celestial body is at its peak maliciousness, dousing the world in sweltering rays, I can stay inside on a comfy couch in a ventilated paradise surfing the web for antiques. 

Of course I almost forgot that tidbit of useful information. Imagine the ease of thrifting if everything had a search bar. Instead of spending hours on end digging through junk drawers why not simply type the desired object and go from there; cleanliness may be close to godliness but specificity is just as nice.




Estate Sales

Perhaps the strangest of thrifting opportunities, the one time complete strangers will let other, complete, strangers wander through their house, from top-to-bottom, digging through old valuables and sell them for the cost of basically nothing. Fascinating and terrifying both the situation itself and the circumstances that led to it. My relative, dear friend, etc, has died so why not sell their belongings for dirt cheap to the public but instead of displaying all this stuff outside let’s invite them in to explore and poke around the remains of desolate memories and foreclosed architecture. 

That sounds more grim than it actually is. Rather if you were to physically witness said event it, and the people, are nothing short of respectful; as most thrift shoppers are. 

If anything there’s more opportunity for them to thrive. What’s for sale is marked down and, after a minute, marked down again. Bring baskets and tote bags galore because everything must go, and if it doesn’t leave at this price it will certainly go at another.

Even though you could simply classify this as a bigger garage sale, which I almost did when creating this list, at first the two were paired together until they were eventually separated, I didn’t want to run out of thrifting examples; estate sales are incredibly rare finds. 

Whereas garage sales seem to spring out of the ground, just as flowers do during the warmer season, this alternative venture has to be scouted for and constantly researched. Although you could say the same for garage sales they are far and plenty with a large number of places hosting summertime venues for Flea Markets. 

For example, compared to the number of estate sales I’ve been to, one so far, versus garage sales/swap meets, that I go to every year, almost religiously, there’s not much of a competition. Now while that’s my perspective, who knows the rate of these events in other places. Maybe you get swamped by estate sales and are so sick of all the commotion you can’t stand to even look at them. I wish I had that problem in my neighborhood.




Consignment Shops

Want to get fabulous clothes from name brands like Banana Republic but oh goodness that price tag is not appealing, should you just give up and go to prom with a full-suit minus one blazer? Nonsense, ever been to a consignment shop? Whether you have or haven’t my friend, that is the answer to all your problems; at least the fashion ones.

In the setup of an antique mall with the behavior of a donation center, it sounds awkward but bear with me, a consignment shop is for the resale of items specifically clothing and accessories; such as purses, shoes, etc. 

Compared to stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army the product offered here is usually in better condition; instead of the aforementioned groups who, instead, ignore whatever state it’s in, possibly deteriorating at the seems, a price tag is slapped on it and, later, shelved. Private retailers actually take the time out of their day to double-triple check that what they are offering is of decent, even extraordinary, quality.

Jewelry that sparkles in the sun. Gorgeous dresses and handsome suits. Shoes that look brand new out of the box. What paradise this is, a place of wondrous opportunity just waiting for you to step inside and enhance your wardrobe.

Unfortunately, although it pains me to say, the price for these fantastic finds may definitely be an improvement of their previous cost, but maybe not overly so. Yes the deal is good, and walking home with a brand new outfit is always fun; one must remember that this place, and it really pains me to say this, is, more or less, an over-glorified Gap or JCPenny.  

That being said, despite my slander, I encourage you to find a consignment shop and just keep its location at the back of your mind. Plus showing off a Versace-built outfit, at entirely less than half of the original asking price is definitely worthy of bragging rights.

Consignment Shops Nearby:

Great Expectations Consignment

Changing Closets

Plato’s Closet




Garage Sales

Down to the last, of my very limited knowledge of thrifting, on this list is the very thing that started this all; the magnificent, marvelous, and countless merry times of adventure: garage sales. What’s not to love about them? 

The wide array of goods new and old. The opportunity to practice one’s public speaking skills. The adrenaline of haggling with a vendor, which only elevates when they relent and take the lower-than-listed price, and those are, only, just the benefits I can name off the top of my head. 

I’m sure there are many more that allude me right now.

Why to be honest I’m not quite sure what else I should say. To be fair, is there really anything else that needs to be said; absolutely anything at all? Ok, if there’s nothing else then I can at least give a few thrifting tips regarding garage sales and such. 

Always carry cash; if you forget all else that you may read, please, at least, remember this one. While technology is wondrous and card readers do exist, not everyone is guaranteed to own one. 

Small businesses will often set up shop at large-scale thrifting events and unlike their fellow vendors, they often refuse to lower their prices whatsoever. You can try but I can’t guarantee a sudden change of heart; in other words don’t hunt me down if this doesn’t work out. 

I’m confident that antique toys and/or vintage memorabilia will be rampant among the booths. I don’t know exactly how far this extends, how many centuries back; looking for a Furby and have exhausted all your resources everywhere else? It might not be there at first but try and try again and who knows, a Series 4 in decent condition might be waiting on the shelf for you; based on a true story, that’s why the above is so specific.


Congrats on making it all this way. Hopefully my rant was entertaining if not educational; I tried to make it so, with minimal success. Maybe you’ll even take my advice to heart and go out right now on the prowl for locations to target when the next hunting spree arrives. 

Afterall, it is spring and once the warmer weather begins to become a permanent fixture, it will spur others to declutter their homes and offer it up to the masses to see what they’ll get from it. I, for one, like to support this process; by emptying their home and filling up mine with everything I can possibly get my scavenger hands on. You best believe I’m proud of this borderline hoarding addiction, don’t worry it’s not actually that bad I’m just exaggerating again.