5 Rules of Thrift Store Shopping (by an Ex-Thrift Store Employee)

Updated on April 22, 2020
kittythedreamer profile image

As a former thrift store employee, I learned a lot about what to buy (and what not to buy) used.

Thrift Store Shopping: Yes, There Are Rules!

Take it from an ex-thrift store employee, there are rules to thrift store shopping—five rules, to be exact! As a teenager, I worked at a thrift store for about two years, and I can tell you that I have seen every single one of these rules being broken! Any time you are in a thrift store, you need to keep these rules in mind.

1. Don't Pull Off Any Price Tags

The number one rule while thrift store shopping is to never pull price tags off of the items! It is rude and shady, but besides that, you may have gotten a better deal on the item with the price tag on!

When I worked at a thrift store, if someone pulled the price tags off of any item, I would usually bump up the price just to teach them a lesson. Don't try to get out of paying two dollars for a shirt because you think it should only cost you one dollar, for crying out loud! Isn't two dollars cheap enough? Get over it and pay the thrift store's set price.

Changing prices or pulling price tags in a thrift store is something that you will get caught doing...eventually. So be fair, people!
Changing prices or pulling price tags in a thrift store is something that you will get caught doing...eventually. So be fair, people! | Source

2. Never Buy Underwear

Never buy underwear from a thrift store! It is disgusting and unsanitary, to say the very least.

Yes, I have seen people buy underwear right off of the rack at a thrift store. What's worse is that I would throw away any underwear that was donated to the thrift store, but my boss would hang them up on a hanger and slap the tighty whiteys on a rack! Let's just talk about the nasty things that could be present in a used pair of underwear...crabs, streak marks, you name it. Well, that's as far as I'll go, but you get the point, right? Just don't do it!

Don't buy used underwear...you never know where those threads have been...
Don't buy used underwear...you never know where those threads have been... | Source

3. Don't Try to Buy Unpriced Donations

Never dig through items that aren't already for sale on the floor. What do I mean by this exactly? It is NOT cool to rummage through carts of unpriced items or scour over racks that have not been placed amongst the rest of the items for sale in the store. This is mainly a rule coming from a thrift store employee and why? Because it's more than annoying to the thrift store employees, and don't you want them to be on your side and not against you? Exactly!

4. Don't Try to Haggle

Following the same concept of not annoying the thrift store employees, don't argue or haggle with them while doing your thrift store shopping! I had dozens, actually probably hundreds, of weekly and daily customers that would try to haggle with me over the price of a cup. We would mark them at $1 and these ladies would argue with me that they should only be .50! Okay, maybe $1 is a little expensive for a used cup, but the more you argue with a thrift store employee the more they'll despise you and not give you a break in the future!

5. Don't Purchase Electric Appliances Without Testing First

Always test electrical appliances before purchasing them from a thrift store's shelves. This rule is strict to protect the thrift store customer and why? Most thrift stores do test the electrical appliances that they put on their shelves, but I can guarantee that many do not! This rule is simple - if you want to purchase an antique/vintage lamp, ask the thrift store attendant/employee if they have an outlet that you could use to test that the lamp works. The same goes for radios or clocks. I would advise against things such as toasters and microwaves, as this is unsanitary and could have some other electrical problem that you would not be able to detect upon one test.

Participate in a poll:

Which have you done in a thrift store before?

See results

© 2011 Kitty Fields


Submit a Comment
  • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

    Kierstin Gunsberg 

    2 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

    Haha, I didn't realize how important it was to be best friend's with the thrift attendants ;)

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    5 years ago from Summerland

    GayaXLuna - Sorry I hope I didn't offend! I understand, though. Thank you for reading. :)

  • GayaXLuna profile image

    Dylan (Alice) Bowman 

    5 years ago

    I have bought a pair of panties once from one of the thrift shops. I am transgender so it's hard getting a parent to but a full priced panties and bras but saving 50 cents is easy and requires nobody but me to know. But I wouldn't buy them if I had money. And a lot of your tips are good.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Vista15 - I'm not sure what thrift store you go to, but the one I worked in never washed or sterilized anything. And if buying bras from a thrift store makes you happy, go for it!

  • Vista15 profile image

    Tiana Dreymor 

    6 years ago from Columbus, OH

    Are BRAS classified as UNDERWARE??? Geeze, I buy ALL my bras at the Thrift Stores. I detest the foam-formed bras that seem to be all that's available at Walmart and such....

    I wear ONLY hook in front (who ever decided women needed to struggle to get into a bra...must have been a man!), have underwires and NO padding. Then they must FIT ME!

    Also... don't you know all items for sale in Thrift Stores are washed and/or sterilized???

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    If they despise people who haggle over prices, and won't give them a break in the future, how do they ever get a break now or in the future if they don't haggle? Just asking. I don't usually ask for a break on prices, since they are cheap already, but lots of people know you have to ask if you want something.

  • whalefeather2 profile image


    7 years ago

    Super Advice!!

  • PickingProfits profile image


    7 years ago

    Those seem like simple rules. It's too bad that so few can follow them all! Add "don't take stuff from other peoples carts" too!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    8 years ago from East Coast, United States

    I love to shop at thrift shops! My favorite store will not sell an item without a price tag. There is an art to thrift store shopping for sure. When I found the really great stuff, I think it was because I shopped more often than I do now. It's like a hunt!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    8 years ago from Summerland

    fancifulashley - That's disgusting. Very unsanitary. Thanks for sharing that nasty tidbit of info with me. LOL. :)

  • fancifulashley profile image


    8 years ago

    I actually know a woman who has bought underwear from a thrift store. Her husband immediately threw them out as soon as she pulled them out of the bag. Apparently there were some very blatant stains on them. Which brings the question to my mind of public safety when things of that nature are put on the racks.

    Great hub though!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    8 years ago from Summerland

    Millenium - It is amazing what people buy that's used. Gross. LOL.

  • Millenium profile image


    8 years ago

    It is amazing what people would buy. It's amazing what items I purchased. Not underwear so get that thought out of your mind lol!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Michael Ely - Thanks so much!

  • michael ely profile image

    michael ely 

    9 years ago from Scotland

    Good hub with good advice.

    Cheers. michael.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Cogerson - Thanks so much. Weirdos...that's who buys underwear in a second hand shop. Nasty!

  • Cogerson profile image


    9 years ago from Virginia

    Nice hub, I have seen underwear in thrift stores and always wonder who would be buying that, interesting hub ...thanks for sharing your experiences here on hub pages...voted up.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Rod - you would think it would be common sense, but the problem is that a LOT of people lack common sense!

  • Rod Marsden profile image

    Rod Marsden 

    9 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

    Useful advice. I vote up. Also rates as common sense.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Lesleyoncelebrity - Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't know that term wasn't universal, so excuse my ignorance! :) Yes, that's exactly what a thrift shop is. Have a great day!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Hi Kitty, I loved this hub, but please excuse my ignorance. What is a Thrift Store? Is it the same as our Charity Shops we have in the UK like Oxfam (2nd hand things)?

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Chatkath - hey, lady! Thanks so much! Thrift store shopping can truly be a fun and exciting adventure...just stay clear of the undies aisle! :)

  • Chatkath profile image


    9 years ago from California

    Great Hub Kitty, you do provide some very good guides to thrift store shopping, one of my favorite past times!

    Up and Awesome !!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Hey, Stephanie! Thanks so much. I enjoy thrift store shopping, too, when I have the time! Have a great day!

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 

    9 years ago from USA

    Good advice! There are definitely bargains to be found in thrift stores, and I enjoy hunting for them when I have time.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    exotichippiequeen - Haha...I know, it is truly revolting! But I've seen people do it.

    Lynn S. Murphhy - Pennies are useless anyway...I think we should get rid of them and call it a day. Glad you found it funny.

    WillStarr - Yes, I was an avid thrift store shopper as a teen myself. I am a big vintage fan, and you can find a ton of good vintage in thrift stores if you have the time and patience enough to look through the loads of crap that are also there. Underwear, though? Yikes...I'm sure your daughter is sensible and beautiful and would not buy something of that nature. :)

  • WillStarr profile image


    9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    Our daughter would rather buy her clothes in a thrift store. She always has loved it because she's so creative, and she does look great!

    I, on the other hand, would never buy clothes in a thrift store, but that's just me.

    Up and useful.

  • profile image

    Lynn S. Murphy 

    9 years ago

    Useful tips and I know that there are some people that would haggle over a penny. And the underwear. OMG! That you have to even mention not to buy unmentionables. Hysterical.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Ugh! Would never buy underwear from a thrift store!!! Thanks for the useful tips!

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    9 years ago from Summerland

    Guanta - Thanks so much! Hope you can put them to use!

    Alastar Packer - Hilarious! It's pretty pathetic that people like to argue over $1! By the way, you are my super commenter now.

    Dahoglund - give the advice to your wife, and you better not let her buy the underwear! :)

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    I don't go to these shops much although my wife does.Seems like sensible advice.

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    9 years ago from North Carolina

    Oh my, a boss who really cared about his customers experiences with their underwear purchases- Ha! Surprise! lmao. Sorry folks couldn't resist that one. How many times have we seen people doing #3- plenty. Haggling over 50 cents in a THRIFT store, ye Gods! And yes its always wise to check out electrical products before buying from thrift stores, pawn shops and particularly yard & garage sales. Brilliant, good info and humorous kitty.:D

  • Guanta profile image


    9 years ago from New York City

    Thank you kittythedreamer. Very good points to keep in mind. Appreciate your input.


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