8 Goodwill Hacks All Professional Thrifters Know

We asked some of our most experienced thrifters to share their best thrift hacks. Although their interests vary widely, there were themes that emerged throughout their responses:

“Thrifting is a great way to save on trends and to put your own spin on fashion for an affordable price. It inspires you to come up with your own individual style or styles you’ve seen elsewhere” – Whitney

8 Goodwill Hacks



“Keep a list of items you are looking for so quick stops are not wasted.”
– @CheerfulVintage, Sara, Sumner, WA

“Set a goal, before shopping, of what you’re looking for and what your budget is.”
@WaterAndHue, Stephanie, Seattle, WA

“Be inspired. Whether it’s street style from Pinterest or bloggers/influencers that you love, or even other thrifters. Make a list based on that inspiration; it can make thrifting way less overwhelming when you know what you’re looking for!”
@TheNiceHuman, Rebecca, Olympic Peninsula, WA

“I also shop one season ahead. If I shop for my kids, it is always one size larger than they’re in. This has worked for their growth spurts!”
@SofiaAlejandra9, Sofia, Tacoma, WA

“Keep theme parties or seasonal décor in mind year round when you shop … the best finds are off-season. “
– Dee, Top U.S. Thrift Treasure Hunter, Tacoma, WA



For everyday thrifting, get a calendar and shop the colored tags. Also, follow Goodwill on Facebook to get information and coupons (I love Facebook Friday!).”
@LovetheCrazy, Elisabeth, WA

“Know how to shop the sales. It’s very important to know the sale dates, the color tag sales, and to take advantage of coupons. It’ll save your wallet in the end and you’ll be surprised how much you’ve saved from just that size of a shopping spree.”
– Whitney, Goodwill employee

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 “Monday and Tuesday have the best ticket sales. There’s so much!!”
@Jadeth29, Jade, Eastern WA

“The hunt is always fun, so most do like to come early in the morning when you are free to search without many people around.”
–Whitney, Goodwill employee

“Shop when people are donating … like in January, after the Christmas Holidays, in summer, when house or storage cleanout happens &  shop off-season: don’t look for a model railroad set just before Christmas!”
– Dee, Top U.S. Thrift Treasure Hunter, Tacoma, WA




Look EVERYWHERE, the kids section, the men’s section, the sleepwear section. Treasures hide everywhere in thrift stores!”
@TheNiceHuman, Rebecca, Olympic Peninsula, WA

Be patient, it takes time to find the best treasures.”
–  @TheThriftedTeacher, Mrs. B, Auburn, WA

“Shop all clothing racks even if you may think that it is not your size… you can often find hidden gems in places you least expect them to be!”
@SofiaAlejandra9, Sofia, Tacoma, WA

Thrifting takes time, set aside a block of time so there’s no rushing because  then you might overlook something!”
@StyledByShara, Shara, Tacoma, WA

“You get what you dig for. When you take your time looking through all the racks and aisles, you’re more likely to score! Once in a great while you’ll just walk right up to thrift treasures.”
–  @SaucyLittleThrifter, Gaby, Yakima, WA

“Be patient and persistent – inventory in thrift stores constantly changes. Going back multiple times and on different days is key to finding value.”
– Dee, Top U.S. Thrift Treasure Hunter, Tacoma, WA




Always look at content labels. Go for quality fabrics like 100% silk, wool, linen, cotton.”
@GardenStudy, Lana, Tacoma, WA

“Study and feel different materials between the cheap and the real. You’ll come to realize there’s a difference. Look at the seams, the handwork of the stitching on how well it’s made to be sturdy, made of real leather or denim, or if it’s cheap and already easily falling apart.”
– Whitney, Goodwill employee

“Check for wear and tear. Check for the neck, the crotch and the seams for wear and tear because those are the places that wear out the fastest. Check zippers (if they work), scuffs on purses and shoes, stains on clothes and any smells. All of these aspects will help you determine in the long run if it’s worth another wash or a DIY hand stitch to fix it into something of your own.”
– Whitney, Goodwill employee




“I can’t count the number of pieces of furniture I’ve purchased from Goodwill and given new life with a fresh coat of paint! <3”
@Jadeth29, Jade, Eastern WA

Look beyond items in current state and imagine what it could become with a little TLC (…can I paint it? …reupholster it? …use it for a different purpose?) “
– Dee, Top U.S. Thrift Treasure Hunter, Tacoma, WA

“Start with simple fixer uppers before tackling major rehab projects. Learn one step at a time.”
– Dee, Top U.S. Thrift Treasure Hunter, Tacoma, WA




“Be willing to take risks on a piece you’re just drawn to. Unexpected finds can often end up being major favorites.”
–  @TheNiceHuman, Rebecca, Olympic Peninsula, WA

“Experiment with style. Even the most basic clothing such as a t-shirt and jeans can still be played up into a minimalist chic fashion. Don’t be afraid to add your own spin to it with what’s already in your closet at home, that’s when the fun starts.”
–Whitney, Goodwill employee

Try on the odd color or cut pieces you’d usually bypass. They can serve as cool statement pieces in your wardrobe.”
@GardenStudy, Lana, Tacoma, WA

“Mix colors, bolds, neutrals, florals, prints, patterns – just have fun with it!”
– Whitney, Goodwill employee




TRY EVERYTHING ON! It may look cute on the hanger but not on you!”
@StyledByShara, Shara, Tacoma, WA

“I try everything on before I buy it to make sure there aren’t any stains or tears, and also to make sure it sits on me in a nice looking way. Sometimes things look good on the hanger, but not when you try it on. A certain ruffle or seam might sit funny.”
@BriMonster, Briana, Gig Harbor, WA




Always check Goodwill before buying any furniture or housewares… chances are I can find what I need for a fraction of the retail price.”
@Jadeth29, Jade, Eastern WA

“Always thrift outerwear. You can find amazing wool coats that would cost a fortune to buy new.”
@GardenStudy, Lana, Tacoma, WA

The Nice Human wrote an entire blog post about this, “10 Basic Wardrobe Items You Should be Thrifting




Perhaps some of the greatest experts of all are our Goodwill employees. They had a few extra special tips for getting the most of thrift shopping, as well!

“Shop the go back rack by the fitting rooms!  This is where other customers have done the shopping for you, finding the best items.  They may not have been the best fit, ending up on the rack, but they might look great on you!”

“Each store stocks 1000’s of items daily.  The production team collects donations, prices them and puts them on the sales floor all throughout the day, not just in the mornings.  The key to finding new items all the time is to shop often.”

“When you make a donation, you’ll get a coupon to shop and it’s the best way to make room for new goodies in your home or closet!”

“Shopping in a thrift store isn’t everyone’s thing.  We have a store for that…try one of our blue boutique locations where we’ve gathered a selection of our better brands in textiles and home, and showcase then in a small boutique setting.”

“If you’re the extreme bargain hunter, try your hand out our last chance outlet stores.  This is the last stop for product that didn’t sell in a regular store.  Most items are sold by the pound and you can find anything from apparel to vacuum cleaners.”

“We have an online store! Shopgoodwill.com is an auction site where you can shop for many unique items like instruments, vintage pottery, books, boxes of Lego and more!”

“Ever wonder why your grandma’s 1960’s freezer still runs, but your 10 year old fridge doesn’t? Buying vintage means you are buying well-made products.  They were built to last back in the day and made of natural fibers – wood vs plastic, wool vs acrylic.   Look for vintage labels or markings and you can’t go wrong.”

“I like to buy jeans for my daughter and make cut-off shorts out of them.  She gets to choose from lots of fun options – colors, prints, bling, and can even choose what length she wants them.  It saves money and she gets a unique summer wardrobe.”

Our favorite of all:

“I’ve loved thrifting ever since I was young.  There’s just something about the thrill of the hunt.  The bonus for me is now I get to work for Goodwill and know that not only my purchases, but my entire jobs helps people find work.  It’s the best of both worlds.”

Learn more about Goodwill’s mission to provide jobs, job training, and free education here

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