13 Clever Thrifting Tips to Save BIG at Secondhand Shops!

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Love thrifting? You’ll definitely want to read our tips before you head to your Savers, Goodwill, or local thrift store!

woman shopping inside

Going thrifting? Get the inside scoop on how to save!

I’ve been shopping at my local Goodwill store for many years and believe thrifting can be a valuable resource for scoring deals for the home and family. Whether I’m visiting the Savers near me or a local consignment shop, there are always ways to spend less! Plus, in my opinion, thrift store shopping is such a FUN treasure hunt. I would 100% pick a good thrift store adventure over a big box retail trip any day!

paying at the register goodwill

Whether you’re a thrifting expert or a newbie, I’ve rounded up some helpful information to help you save even further at these affordable and adventurous stores.

It’s also worth noting that some of these same tips can also be applied to various other thrift stores to save money. This post is not sponsored by Goodwill or Savers, but rather meant to be helpful, and FUN! 

clothing racks found while thrifting at the goodwill store and the savers near me

Hip Tip: Before I jump into all the juicy details, it’s important for you to know that all Goodwill’s are individually managed. Therefore any sales, special deals, or coupon values, will vary for each location and some locations might not have them at all. Additionally, all stores are unique in what is available since items are all donated. 

woman in front of goodwill thrift store

Here are all my top thrifting tricks to save BIG at Goodwill and other thrift stores:

1. Sign up for the monthly newsletter Goodwill coupon or text alerts to save even more!

woman using goodwill coupon

Once you find your local Goodwill thrift store location online, sign up for their email newsletter or text alerts to receive coupons and be the first to hear about sales. This thrifting tip is also a favorite of my coworker Nicole’s.

At my location, we get an extra 20% off coupon via email that we can use over and over without any limit. You just have to spend over $20 to use it. Sometimes if I go thrifting with a shopping buddy, and don’t spend $20 we will combine orders at the cash register to get the extra 20% off and then even up later.

2. Stay up to date with your local store’s sale calendar.

goodwill calendar

Staying up to date with your local Goodwill is the key to knowing the inside scoop on daily, weekly, and monthly sales. Sounds too easy, but believe it or not, lots of folks don’t do this. So make sure to sign up for their local mailing list so you’re always in the know.

It’s also a good idea to keep up with your local Goodwill’s Facebook page (if they have one) as they often post current sales, coupons, and special events. As an example, here’s the Goodwill of Southern Nevada Facebook page.

The other cheap thrift stores near me often have social media pages. Don’t forget to check if your local thrift stores have them too.

3. Go on the weekly color tag sale days and pay as low as $1!

dollar tag sign which you can find at a goodwill thrift store or the savers near me

That’s right! Every week the Savers near me and some of the Goodwill locations have a special color tag sale day so make sure to keep up to date on their website or next time you head in-store.

For example, here’s a specific Goodwill store page that lists their current and upcoming sales. You can expect to see sales anywhere from 30%-50% off and sometimes even tags that sell for just $1 each!

The Salvation Army also has a similar program. According to Hip2Save’s Monica, every Wednesday they offer half price on apparel.

4. Shop early in the morning at your Goodwill thrift store!

woman in goodwill holding a bowl

It’s probably no news to you that some people make a living on buying cheap stuff at thrift stores and selling them for a profit. Sometimes thrifty finds are priced for way less than it’s worth (unknowingly) therefore the good stuff is sure to fly out the doors fast.

Since employees price new items at night, make sure you’re the first person in the door so you can get to the really good deals first. I find the best stuff when I am there right when my store opens!

woman pointing to goodwill price tag

As just one example, check out this large vintage pottery bowl I found recently priced less than $6 and I spotted it re-selling online for around $200! What a score! I think it also helps to go to a Goodwill location near a retirement community like mine. I find lots of cool vintage stuff!

pyrex mixing bowl

Here’s another example of me being the first in line at my local Goodwill thrift store recently, and scoring a beautiful vintage Pyrex bowl for just $3.49 before coupons! I head straight to the housewares section first to scope things out.

5. Shop at a Goodwill clearance center and pay only by the pound!

woman looking at thrift store clothing

Something a lot of people don’t know is that Goodwill makes an effort to ensure items don’t end up in landfills so one major way you can contribute is thrift shopping at one of their clearance centers. Here you will pay a low cost by the pound, rather than paying for each item individually. So if you’re stocking up on some pretty lightweight stuff like clothing, be prepared for some big savings! Kids clothes are a great item to pick up since they grow out of them so fast.

To find your nearest Goodwill Clearance Center, head to their store locator and type in your zip code. You’ll then need to scroll down until you find a store that’s called a “Clearance Center”.

6. Save extra cash if you’re a senior, military member, teacher, or student!

three women getting a senior discount at a goodwill or savers near me

Both my mom and my mother-in-law are Goodwill shopping experts and are so fun to treasure hunt with! They shop on Tuesdays to get their Goodwill senior discount of 25% off!

  • For seniors: If you’re a senior over 55 years old, you can shop on Tuesday to get anywhere from 25% off.
  • For military members, students, teachers & first responders: Get 25% off with an I.D at Goodwill of Arizona on Sundays.

The Savers near me also has amazing senior discounts on Tuesday. If you’re a senior over 55 years old, you can get up to 30%. This discount should be available at most of their locations.

7. Find out the best day to make donations.

goodwill donation drop off

If you’ve been avoiding a drop-off at your local Goodwill, now is the perfect time to find out what the best day actually is. At most Goodwill locations, they host special donation days, where you can receive a pretty sweet coupon to use on your next thrifting trip. It’s a win, win – drop off your unwanted goods and received money off when you’re ready to buy something new.

If your store doesn’t have this, you can still ask for a receipt and claim your donations during tax season for a possible write-off if you itemize.

Don’t forget that to check with your local thrift store if they have special donation days too. I know that at the Savers near me, you can snag 20% off any day as long as you drop off clothing or household items.

8. The Savers near me has a rewards program and yours should too. Join it!

a rack of thrift store clothing like the one at the savers near me

If you love thrift shopping at Savers, join their rewards program called the Super Savers Club. Sign up with a valid email address to get exclusive offers. You’ll earn points each time you shop. When you reach 100 points, you can redeem them for 20% off your purchase of up to $100. When your birthday rolls around, you’ll get a coupon for 20% off a purchase of up to $50.

Bargain Hunt is another discount store that has a rewards programs, birthday coupon, and they give you 20% off if you sign up for emails.

9. Visit a thrift store in an upscale town to find a great deal on expensive items.

coach and jimmy choo designer bags like the kind you can find at the savers near me

If you visit a secondhand store in a ritzy area, you can often find designer clothing and other goods for an amazingly low price. Some of these items may even be barely used! Keep an eye out for high-end materials like hardwood, leather, and woven goods.

If you live in a small town, you might be in luck too. Check out your local thrift store, because sometimes they ship in goods from larger cities and that merchandise might just be an expensive brand name.

If you find a piece of vintage piece of clothing but aren’t sure what it’s worth, visit the Vintage Fashion Guild to get an idea.

10. Pick up Target’s last season merchandise at stores like Dirt Cheap.

dirt cheap receipt obtained while thrifting

Word on the street is that Target has moved its clearance items to liquidation stores and secondhand shops. Look for last season’s Target products at stores like Dirt Cheap, Bargain Hunt, and Goodwill. If you browse the aisles, you might just find some of these modern products for super low prices.

11. Double check your items before you buy.

wooden leaf puzzle like the kind you can buy when thrifting or at the savers near me

Don’t waste money on products that won’t work or are missing necessary parts. Test the electronics to make sure they power on and always double check your games and puzzles to make sure all the important pieces are there. Also, give clothing and glassware a glance in the light to make sure you didn’t miss a chip, crack, or tear.

12. Expect the unexpected when thrift shopping.

golf clubs at goodwill thrift store similar to the ones you might find at the savers near me

There’s definitely a unique collection of goods at every Goodwill or thrift store. However, there are goods you may not realize could be there – and for super cheap! You can likely score great deals on pricier sports equipment like golf clubs. I spotted these golf clubs at a secondhand store near me.

new mattress at goodwill

One of the best items to buy when thrifting is furniture. You can’t beat the price and you can always paint wooden furniture to give it new life. You can even find brand new mattresses if you’re in the market for a new bed! They started at just $169 for a twin-sized new mattress.

Also, give those older items a good look. Some of the statues and vintage dolls might just be worth a pretty penny! Check in the pockets of clothing too! You might just find find other goodies hidden inside.

13. Make friends with the employees.

designer coach fanny pack found at a thrift store similar to the savers near me

If you love thrifting, it pays to chat with the thrift store owner and employees. Want a new Coach bag? Let them know! Not only will you gain some new friends, but they might just alert you if they receive something good.

Want to see some of my latest Goodwill thrift store finds?!

goodwill shopping haul

Not only did I score a Pyrex vintage bowl for cheap, but I also found some beautiful white porcelain basket weave plates for around $1 each! This handmade wood cutting board is gorgeous and will be perfect to build a cheese and cracker board. At just $6 it was a nice find as well!

Check out more thrift store hauls and items I’ll always look for at thrift stores!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in Today.com, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 110

  1. anne

    None of these tips are applicable to the Goodwill’s in my area…. no big senior discounts ( only 10% one day a week), and no big discounts. Most of the time I can buy the item new and on sale for our Goodwill prices.

    • Patricia Goff

      Same at my goodwill. There is a day where a certain color tag is half off.

      • Chrissy Goff

        They no longer text offers etc. Fun fact: During the pandemic Goodwill stayed open and they had to advertise on the radio to remind people that they were open for business.

    • Alli

      Our Goodwill really stinks too. They don’t do the special tag colors anymore and their prices have gotten crazy high in the last year or so. Anything that’s name brand gets marked up like crazy. I can get cheaper brand new name brand things at TJ Maxx. We do have some other awesome thrift stores in our area though.

  2. hollyp1234

    I love to thrift shop. I used to thrift a lot in high school with my Mom, but I kind off fell off that wagon with Amazon. I’m getting more back into thrifting and love to go to Goodwill, Plato’s Closet and a few local little shops. Thanks for this post!

  3. acgold

    Goodwill now sorts out the better clothing and electronics and puts them on -line, they never make it to the stores. Our local news station in NY/NJ did a story. Game player systems go directly to on-line.

    • jdoyle

      and they charge a lot for shipping

  4. SueJo

    Lina, love the picture of you and your mom, and mother in law! How fun!!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh thanks! We did have a blast and found some great things 💕

  5. shauna

    I am in South Florida. We used to have the color tags, but about 2 years they took them away. They make you pay $25 for an annual fee and it gives you 25% off future purchases. No discounts, freebies or anything like that. I’ve also noticed that the prices are getting ridiculous .

  6. Shawna

    Wow! Your Goodwill (in photo) looks amazing! It looks clean and organized. I’m Impressed.

  7. tracy

    I shop and donate at local stores that serve our community.
    “Goodwill Omaha CEO Frank McGree was fired in 2016 after a World-Herald investigation revealed that he received between $400,000 and $930,000 annually, while more than 100 workers at his stores made less than minimum wage. (Paying employees pennies per hour, by the way, is perfectly legal thanks to a loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act)”
    There are dozens more stories of shadiness at Goodwill Industries.

    • Kristi

      Tracy…..I’m so glad you brought that up!! I totally agree with you. I have a very difficult time donating nice things to Goodwill and then they turn around and make way too much money. I thought the whole idea was to keep prices down so anyone could afford to shop there. Since they get all their merchandise for free why is it marked up so much? I’d like to see exactly where the profits are going. I would rather donate to my church, shelters, or other thrift stores that are helping the people in our community. Goodwill has gotten too big for their britches!

    • DeeAnn Allison

      I agree with you. I’ve heard they will hire disabled people only pay them 3 or 4 dollars an hour because they get payed through the organization that they hired the disabled person through. They think they a Sacs Fifth Avenue🤣🤣

    • Alli

      Right. I won’t donate to Goodwill anymore. All of my things go to other resale shops in the area. I’d rather support Salvation Army and their causes.

  8. Ellen

    Unfortunately 100% of the money goes to the owner of goodwill, none to charities.

    • Ds71

      Goodwill near me is awful. Every time I have gone in the same people are waiting around the doors where the workers bring out merchandise to stock. They follow the worker around until he or she puts merchandise out and grab. After seeing this several times I won’t go back

    • Elaine

      I agree about them not being very charitable. I brought a single mom there once to see if they could help give her and her child clothing. She had documents showing she was needy . They refused. I was in disbelief. They had a massive store full of clothes. They could easily have a way to give needy people even $20 or so worth of clothes. And the CEO makes tons . I’ll shop there if I need something but I donate my stuff to the vets or teen challenge.

    • Mia

      exactly! there is a lot of information to be found about this online about this. I stopped giving my stuff to Goodwill and I am supporting a local second-hand store run by a pet shelter.

  9. MaryKay

    Hi Lina 👋 Have you found your Goodwill stores are still keeping good prices? I love a good treasure hunt at Goodwill especially looking for Fiestaware. You have inspired me to go back to our local Godwill and see what I can find! Thanks for all you do! 🙂

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi there! Oh I love hearing that!
      Yes, I do think slightly higher just like everything else, however I have been able to score some fun things lately! I have a couple stores new my house so it’s convenient to pop in and see what’s there every so often ☺️

    • Princess'Mom

      I wanted Fiestaware forever and kept looking. Ended up buying myself a whole bunch of it at Kohl’s for less than I was seeing random pieces pop up in Savers/Salvation Army. As far as I know, they don’t sell it in the stores (at least they don’t carry it in my store) but you can get it online and, last time I bought it, you could also use coupons!

  10. Renee

    The discount for Seniors where I live in Florida is on Mondays.

  11. yesbet88


  12. Ds71

    Goodwill near me is awful. Every time I have gone in the same people are waiting around the doors where the workers bring out merchandise to stock. They follow the worker around until he or she puts merchandise out and grab. After seeing this several times I won’t go back

  13. Leslie

    You need to update your post and say “maybe deduct them on your taxes.” It depends on if you itemize. Maybe people can not itemize anymore after the standard deduction was doubled a few years ago. But if you do itemize, keep really good records of what you donate. It can add up and is helpful in an audit,

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks Leslie! Noted, and edited wording.

  14. Steph444

    Scores like those are few and far between at Goodwill. It depends on who is doing the pricing and what they know. Unfortunately most of them know the value of vintage pyrex and basically all vintage items. In my area, if they think it’s vintage, the price is about what you’d pay at an antique store. It’s not just Goodwill, either. All the thrifts in my area are highway robbers. I get it, most are for charity, but it’s called a THRIFT store for a reason!! It’s not thrifty if they charge antique store prices, lol.

  15. marymariebrown

    I live in SW Michigan. We have tons of thrift shops; Goodwills, Salvation Army, Mission Stores, etc. My son and I love to thrift shop.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing about the thrift stores near you! Glad to hear you enjoy hunting down the great deals too! 🙌❤️

  16. Laura

    I go every Thursday when the goodwill near me has items that haven’t sold for over a month for $1.99. They often have good brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, ASOS, Zara, J Crew etc. Last week I found a Brioni for Newman Marcus men’s shirt that would sell for over $500 for $1.99. I’ve found high quality bags like Bruno Magli and Falor, though I paid more for these. It’s a treasure hunt and sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh wow, great finds Laura! There’s one GW I used to live by that had so many high end brand clothing they would have a separate rack for designer which was cool. I agree it’s a fun treasure hunt!

  17. Janice Saaranen

    My husband bought a pair of khaki shorts at our local Goodwill. When he checked the pockets before throwing them in the washer, he found $60.

  18. Jennifer

    Our area Goodwills are awful. They are very high priced. So frustrating. The sentiment in my area is people would rather burn stuff than give it to Goodwill.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh bummer! Very sorry to hear that your local Goodwills don’t seem to offer a great bargain, Jennifer. 🙁 Hoping you might have some other thrift store options near you to shop at for hunting down treasures! 🤞💗

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