One Clever Question to Ask Next Time You Go Thrifting (You’ll Score the Best Deals!)

published Mar 27, 2024
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There are so many reasons to love going to thrift stores. Not only is it a great way to find one-of-a-kind items, but there’s also the thrill of the hunt — you never know what’s waiting at your local charity shop, estate sale, or flea market. Plus, there’s the added bonus of saving money while being able to afford quality finds. 

If you’re a regular thrifter, you’ve probably already asked your local stores about when they put out new items and what days are least busy (hint: avoid senior discount days!). Still, there’s one big question that you may be missing out on: To score the best deals, find out if your particular store has a loyalty program. Whether or not budget is one of the reasons you thrift, there’s no harm in being rewarded for your efforts.

“The No. 1 thing I ask thrift store employees, especially if it’s a local chain or differentiates city to city like Goodwill, is if they have a rewards program and how that can be used in tandem with their sales,” says Ariel Khawly, who thrifts for vintage clothing and resells it via her business Vintage for Y’all

Loyalty programs differ from the typical tag or color-of-the-week discounts available to all customers, Khawly says. Reward systems require users to sign up for an email or text list to receive coupons and keep track of purchases. These programs vary depending on where you shop.

Because each Goodwill is locally owned and operated, it also pays to ask about loyalty programs when you’re traveling, especially if you frequent an area often. For example, my local stores don’t offer rewards. The group of Goodwill stores near where I grew up in Pennsylvania, though, do have a card that unlocks discounts, whereas the stores in Chicago and Southeastern Wisconsin offer perks based on what you spend in-store.

“A great example is Goodwill Southern California, which has a 20% off coupon delivered to your inbox monthly after email sign-up,” Khawly adds. Because you can’t stack the coupons with sales or weekly markdowns, she has gotten savvy by splitting purchases into two transactions for maximum savings. 

Credit: Johner Images / Getty Images

The bonuses don’t stop there. At an estate sale near Houston, I skipped entering my email address during checkout because I didn’t think I’d be in town often enough. But after speaking with Danielle Roberts, the owner of Blue Moon Estate Sales NW Houston, I regret my decision.

Because Blue Moon Estate Sales is a national franchise, customers are rewarded all over the U.S. by earning one point for every $1 spent. “Once a customer reaches 500 points, they earn a $5 coupon to redeem at a Blue Moon estate sale,” reveals Roberts.

And, shockingly, you don’t even have to spend money to earn points. Social media shares on Facebook, Instagram, and X are also points-worthy ventures, and customers receive 25 points just for signing up. As expected, Roberts says customers love the loyalty program and often don’t realize how close they are to claiming rewards. “So many times, it is an unexpected discount, and they always leave with a big smile,” she adds. 

The next time you grab your reusable bag and head out the door in search of a thrift haul for your home, don’t forget to check in with an employee about any rewards programs to make sure you’re not leaving any savings on the table.