As much as I love shopping trips to modern malls, boutiques, department stores, and specialty shops, there’s something special about going through a thrift shop, a second-hand book store, or a garage sale. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of uncovering a hidden gem—perhaps a limited-edition album, an out-of-print book, exquisite vintage dresses, or maybe an ornate antique necklace… the possibilities are endless. And personally, I like the nostalgic feel of walking amongst dusty old shelves, racks of slightly faded clothes, and bins full of assorted knick-knacks.

Now, buying second-hand goods isn’t all that different from buying new stuff… but if you want to make the most of thrift shops or become a regular used-goods hunter, the following tips might be useful...

Be patient: What’s frustrating about shopping for second-hand goods is that it’s totally unpredictable. It might take hours, days, or even weeks to find what you’re looking for. So, take your time and be prepared to have your stamina tested to the limits.

Keep your mind open: What’s fascinating about shopping for second-hand goods is that totally unpredictable—it’s full of surprises. So, keep an open mind… and keep your eyes open!

Only buy the things you really want: It’s easy to get lost in nostalgia and the sense of wonder that comes from being in a thrift shop. So be careful not to go overboard in buying stuff.

Dress appropriately: No, seriously. If you might be interested in, say, antique jewelry or vintage jackets, then wear something you often go out in, so that you easily see how whether the items you’ve selected can match your wardrobe. Also, dress in layers so you won’t feel too awkward when you have to take something off in order to try on clothing items on sale. (It’s safe to say that most thrift-shops won’t have a fitting room.)

Try before you buy: This goes without saying when it comes to electronics or appliances. You also need to be extra careful with clothing—don’t trust size tags as old clothes might have been stretched or shrunk. So, take your time to carefully examine the stuff you’re interested in.

Become a regular patron: Knowing—and being known by—the owner or at least the staff of a thrift shop could help land you the best deals and also keep you in the loop concerning new items.

Learn a couple of repair skills: Having basic sewing skills means that hope is not lost for good-looking second-hand clothes that still need some work done on them. Same thing goes for a lot of other stuff like furniture, electronics, etc.

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