9 Must Haves for Thrift Store Shopping

This thrift store shopping list of essential must-have items tutorial is sponsored by my friends at Kleenex, but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. Save this list for the next time you head out to go antiquing or thrifting, or share it with a friend on Facebook!

If I had to guess how many times I had gone thrift shopping within the last month, I would say I have been at least 10 times. I've found thrift shopping can be somewhat therapeutic for me, as I really enjoy window shopping and when I occasionally find something I desperately want to buy my credit card thanks me for the smaller price tags! 

Adam and I have spent many Sunday afternoons shopping around our neighborhood thrift stores--so much so we decided it counts as a date night! But if you're going to get serious about thrift store shopping and you want to do it effectively in order to get the best deals with a small budget, there are a number of essential items you will need to have with you before you go thrift shopping. 

Today, I'm sharing my list of must have items to take with you when you go thrift store shopping! 

Must Haves for Thrift Store Shopping

#1 Measuring Tape

Almost all of the large furniture in our home has come from a thrift store. When we first moved in, the first few things I bought when I moved to Arizona included measuring tape and an essential toolkit. A day or two after we moved in (with nothing in our possession except a few suitcases), I grabbed a pen and paper and took some quick measurements of our doorway/entrances around our home and then went off to the thrift store with my measuring tape and my measurements. 

Knowing just how wide your doorway/hallways are will help you make your furniture shopping just that much more effective (and not to mention headache-free!) Adam and I have been able to score loads of furniture at extremely discounted prices thanks to thrift shopping, including our dining room table, all of the furniture in Adam's office, our tables, bookshelves, entertainment center, oversized mirrors, and our living room couch!

#2 Hand Sanitizer

Most of the time, people do not go thrift shopping because they're not a huge fan of germs. And I'd be lying if I said thrift shopping is glamorous!

Over time, I've learned which thrift shops are generally cleaner and have higher quality inspections upon the items coming in for donations. But sometimes, you face moments while thrift shopping where you find yourself desperately searching for some hand sanitizer. Don't even give it a second though--just grab a small, travel size bottle and stow it away in your bag until you need it. 

#3 Kleenex

The most common issue I've faced with thrift shopping is dealing with my dust allergy. Over time, I learned how crucial it is to have Kleenex with me so I can not only blow my nose when my allergies flare up but also because it comes in handy when I need to wipe something down. 

PRO TIP: Find something you love that's covered in dust? Grab your Kleenex and wipe it down before you take it with you to the register. Leave the dirt and grime at the store and don't take it home with you!

I like to bring these Kleenex Go Anywhere packs from Walmart with me whenever I go thrift shopping. They are so convenient I can just throw them right in my bag and keep them with me whenever I need them, and I find myself often reaching for them while I am doing my Sunday afternoon thrift store run!

#4 Blanket 

Always keep a blanket in the backseat of your car when you're headed out to go thrift shopping. I learned this trick from a friend of mine who does reupholstery--lay down a blanket in the trunk/backseat before placing any large items down onto it. Use the blanket by pulling it from the front of the car to help you move larger furniture when you are by yourself and no one is around to help you. Having a blanket will make transporting large furniture in and out of your car much easier!

#5 Cell Phone 

If you enjoy thrift shopping for name brand or even luxury items, it's crucial to have a cell phone with you in case you need to look something up. My friend who resells vintage clothing on eBay taught me how important it is to be able to research the going price of an item before buying it. I also found it really handy to have my phone with me--a quick search on identifying real Coach handbags saved me from buying an expensive fake knockoff while thrift shopping. 

Similarly, a cell phone is good to have in case you see something you like but want to take a photo and get someone's opinion on it before buying it. 

#6 Comfortable Shoes and Clothing 

I cannot stress this enough: do not wear flip flops and buy furniture. Just ask my husband who learned the hard way--he ended up with a bruised toe for weeks! Wearing closed-toe shoes or sneakers and clothing that allows you to move freely will help easily maneuver effectively around the store, as well as getting your purchases to/from the car and into your home.

#7 Calculator 

Not good at math on the fly? Calculate sale prices and haggle easier when you crack the numbers before hitting the register--it's important to know your numbers before checking out, as I've learned from haggling poorly and in the end learned a valuable lesson. If you have a smartphone, chances are you already have a calculator app on your phone (or you can always open up Google or a search engine and search the question to a math problem right in the search bar such as "what is 35% of $65?")

#8 Coupons

Savers, Goodwill, and many other large thrift store chains have a mailing list you can sign up for to receive news and special coupons. Surprisingly, some of the smaller neighborhood thrift stores can also have these benefits, so be sure to sign up for as many as you can prior to heading out to go thrift shopping. A coupon for my local thrift store once got me a marble side table for $5 (normally $40), so never underestimate the power of a good coupon!

#9 Power Outlet and/or Lightbulb

Some of the larger thrift store chains often provide a power outlet station, but it's always necessary to carry one with you if you're planning on purchasing any electronics or kitchen appliances so you can ensure the device works before leaving the store (since most of the time, small mom and pop thrift stores do not allow returns). If you are in the market for a lamp, be sure to bring at least one working lightbulb with you, too!

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  1. this is a great list. There are so many great gems at thrift shops and I have found so many special d├ęcor items

  2. Great list. I go thrift store shopping all the time mostly for clothes and books but occasionally venture over to the home section.

  3. Can not live without hand sanitizer!

  4. I love thrifting. Your list is spot on!

  5. Great tips! Cool idea on the power outlet. My daughter really likes a few thrift stores but knowing your prices is important

  6. That list would definitely come in handy when I go thrift shopping. I especially like the ideas about keeping a blanket in your car and bringing a measuring tape.

  7. Awesome list! I love shopping at thrift stores! You can find someone awesome treasures!

  8. Hand sanititizer and a measuring tape are a must for me, but I never thought about bringing my own power outlet. What a great idea to make sure you can test any electronic item you want to buy.

  9. I love thrift stores. You can find great deals. I love re doing furniture so I get a thrift stores all the time trying to find old furniture. You definitely got some great deals.

  10. This is a very great list! I love going thrift store shopping!


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