How to score big at a thrift store

Ambie Hay with Palm Beach Thrifters shares her tips for scoring big while thrift shopping!

So you’ve been thrift store shopping before, but did you find anything good? Maybe you scored some cheap vintage tee-shirts or a box of old records for pennies. Those are great deals, but you can do better!

Ambie Hay is one of the Palm Beach Thrifters and dedicates her days to scouring second-hand stores all over Florida for buried treasure! She gave South Florida Weekend some of her expert advice for how to score big at the thrift stores and find items that you can resell for a profit.

When is the best time to go thrift shopping?

Monday’s aren’t the best day for picking because everybody has been off work and they’ve been thrift shopping over the weekend. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are really good days to go out picking. I do recommend going early because a lot of times the volunteers and the managers get there an hour early and they will put new inventory out. Sometimes I go two or three times a day, if it’s in my neighborhood and I’m passing by. Late in the day is really good because the trucks have been out and they’ve been on house pickups so they come back and unload the trucks. 

How do you know if you’ve struck gold?

If it’s a piece of furniture, I look in the drawers for labels and if I don’t see a tag or a label, I’ll take a drawer out and sometimes it’s stamped underneath. Pottery and Italian glass, they can be signed in odd places. If you have a piece of glass, go to a window and hold it up to the light and turn it, and you can usually find the signature that way. The other thing I like doing is asking the manager when did this come in? What other pieces came in with it? Do you know the history of it? Where did it come from?

What should you take with you to go thrift shopping?

  • Magnifying glass
  • Good pair of eyeglasses
  • Blankets to wrap furniture
  • Empty box or a bin to put small items like lamps in so they don’t roll around in the car
  • Bungee cords
  • Comfortable shoes
  • CA$H

Do you have any other insider secrets?

Buy things in pairs, if you can. It’s not necessary but if you’re going to resell your thrift items, decorators love lamps in pairs, mirrors in pairs, vases, etc. Think outside of the box: fix it, glue it, frame it, paint it. Don’t be afraid to take on a project!