The following is a guest post by William B. West:
Hey, Cool Collectors! It’s your old pal, Will, here to give you a few tips to help in your thrifting endeavors. If you’re not familiar with me, I write a segment called Thrift Justice over at williambrucewest.com, where I showcase the goodies I’ve found at thrift stores and yard sales. Since I’ve been at this a while, I thought I’d teach you 5 tips so that you, too, can become a thrift ninja!
This might sound somewhat obvious, but it’s so important one might forget it. Now, when I say “appropriately,” that can mean different things to different people. For example, when I go to yard sales on a cold morning, I actually dress like it’s warm. I know it’s crazy, but bear with me here. Time is of the essence on an early Saturday morning, and you don’t necessarily need to waste it slowly browsing through a sale that may turn up fruitless. So, when I’m dressed for warmth, the cold drives me to assess the situation *quickly*. No wasted time strolling and chatting. In and out, and on to the next one!
Check yard sale signs dates
I can’t emphasize this enough! People tend to be pretty lazy about removing their signs once their sale is over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve followed a trail of signs while “freestyling,” only to find that the sale was the previous week. Generally, if there’s no date on the sign, keep moving.
In the fervor of grabbing stuff before someone else sees it, it’s possible that you may not have fully inspected the item before paying for it. Yard sales and thrift stores aren’t Walmart, so all sales are pretty much final. I used to be a sucker for Transformers. Generation 1 bots are pretty easy to deal with, but the newer, movie bots are a nightmare. Why is this? It’s because the toys moved to a ball joint system, where parts can just pop off. You may see a Transformer that looks complete, only to get home and find the exposed ball joint where an arm or even a head used to be. Even though you’re on a schedule, you’ve always got time to inspect before you buy.
I learned this from American Pickers. If you don’t like the price of something, try to combine a lot of items to get a better deal. I’m not a big haggler, as it’s just not my nature. Bundling, though, gets your desired outcome without really taking you out of your comfort zone. This tip can be a lifesaver for an introvert.
Bring a debit/credit card
This might be the antithesis of what you’ve been told, as everyone always says to bring cash to these things. That’s true, but with the advent of apps like Square, people can process credit card transactions with their smartphones just as securely as if the transaction had happened in a store. It can be a lifesaver if you find you didn’t bring enough money with you.
Welp, these are the tips that have helped me along. Can you think of any I’ve missed? If so, leave ’em in the comments!