The Ins and Outs of Thrifting Like a Pro

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

For some, the idea of thrift shopping can be intimidating. How do I even thrift? What do I look for? Do you have to have a special touch? These types of questions may hold someone back from trying it out, especially if you don't truly understand the concept of it. But, I advise you to keep reading along because I may change your mind.


Thrifting is a type of shopping method where you will find used clothing, accessories, furniture, etcetera, for a discounted price that you most likely won't find anywhere else. The unique thing about thrifting is that thrifted items have been loved by a previous owner and can even date back to the '70s! So, what's the secret to finding good items?

Here's a vintage jean jacket I found in a thrift store in California.

This is where Brianna Sullivan, an expert in this area, comes in. She talks about the ins and outs of thrifting for us. Brianna is a 28-year-old mother of three and currently resides in Langhorne, PA. She frequently thrift shops and has been doing so since high school. She's found a niche for it. Brianna shares her special tips on how we can master thrifting just like she has.

When did you start thrifting? What got you into it?

I started thrifting when I was in high school. My mom first introduced me to thrifting (thanks ma!). She took me with her once and I was hooked. There is just something so beautiful to me about finding a piece that has lived a life before you. My brother really got me into thrifting, though. I’ve always tried to emulate my brother in any way possible because, well, he’s just the best. His style was so unique and effortless while looking really hip. You can’t buy that type of style from any ol' store.

How often do you go thrift shopping?

In a perfect world, I would go every day BUT going at least once every two weeks is good enough to feed the soul.

What are your best tips and tricks for someone who has never gone thrifting before?

OK. First, you want to wear something comfortable—I usually opt for leggings and a tank top, this way I can try things on over my clothes if there aren’t any dressing rooms. Eat something before you go or bring water and snacks with you. You always need to go in with a plan. I find that I find more things when I have an idea of what I’m looking for vs. when I go in aimlessly. Manifest that find. While you’re browsing through racks, keep a color or a pattern in mind so you aren’t looking at every single piece on each rack—this saves a lot of time. Don’t be afraid to shop in the opposite sexes section—I’ve found some of my most prized pieces from the men’s section. Keep an open mind: if you see a piece that you wouldn’t normally pick up (but are into), try to envision an outfit you would pair the piece with //if you come across something dreamy but might be too big for you—take it to the tailor.

Why do you think thrifting is the best? What are the benefits to you?

Thrifting is very cost-effective while buying something second-hand—which is a win-win. You’re saving money and you are giving the middle finger to fast fashion. Most thrift stores are linked to foundations or organizations that help those in need—so… in a way, you’re also helping others in need. Good for you, man! The real benefit is the joy you’ll feel when you come across a pair of pants or shirt you feel like you could have only dreamt of—that’s when the release of those sweet sweet endorphins hit. You can build your own style at the thrift store. My wardrobe is 90% thrifted items. It's cool to me because every piece is unique—no one else has them…..except maybe your grandmother.

Do you find thrifting addictive?

VERY. I love expressing myself via my clothing so finding essential pieces to my wardrobe is addicting.

What is the best item, clothing or not, you ever found when thrifting?

Damn—that’s a tough one. I do have an emotional attachment to this Miami Dolphins 1985 Superbowl t-shirt I have, it’s my first piece of vintage. My thrifted t-shirts are my favorite belongings. I’ve found really cool pieces for my home too, that have really brought some rooms together. A really special item, though, was something I didn’t get for myself. While at a flea market last summer, I found an old Navy Yard t-shirt from the exact year my husband’s late father worked there. When I gave the t-shirt to my husband, he was speechless. I was so happy I could give him a tiny piece of his dad.

Do you ever try to find a thrift store if you visit another state or city?

Oh, all the time. It’s something that’s always on my radar. Just recently, my husband and I went to Siesta Key for our honeymoon. He surprised me with a trip to this really cool vintage store, Canned Ham Vintage. Swoon.

How can I be good at thrifting? Any secrets?

Yes, of course, you can. Thrifting is something everyone can do. As I mentioned before you just have to go in with a plan and a really open mind. I think that’s the most important piece of advice I can give. That way, you’re laser-focused on what you want and honey, you're gonna get it.

Can you tell us about your Instagram page you started?

Yes! One of my favorite things to do while I was pregnant was thrifting for really cool pieces for my babies. After they outgrew them, I couldn’t just give them away so I decided to start an Instagram page for those pieces named after my sweet baby girl, Lucy Jean Vintage. To be honest, I haven’t been able to give it the attention I want with school and mom-ing but after graduation I plan on giving it my all; adding new pieces, broadening the inventory to clothing for men and women along with adding home décor and accessories.

What are the best thrift shops you've ever gone to?

Ok. Bulk Vintage, Liberty Thrift, Goodwills, Salvation Army, Circle Thrift, and Thunderbird Salvage….to name a few.

I asked Brianna if there were any local thrift shops in the Philadelphia or Bucks County area that she recommends. She says her go-to is Liberty Thrift. It's located in Feasterville-Trevose, PA.

She mentions that this one has everything from clothing, to home décor, furniture, games, records, handbags, etc. Brianna states, "this one feels like home to me."

Brianna is big on the idea of manifesting what you want. She suggests trying thrifting out, even if you're up in the air about it.

I think finding vintage clothing, accessories, etcetera, is such a fun activity. It's a way to add a special touch to your wardrobe too. I've taken Brianna's advice myself and found some cool finds of my own! My favorite is the jean jacket that I found when I was in California, which I mentioned above. I also found a vintage Penn State t-shirt. Thrifting is now something that I enjoy doing from time to time.

Whenever I walk into a thrift store now I always keep in mind Brianna's advice; "you need to walk into a thrift store already having an idea of what you're looking for."


Let me know if you decide to try out thrift shopping, or already love thrifting yourself!

"Thank you for giving me this opportunity to openly gush about a passion of mine. I’m sure my friends and family don’t care anymore that “this shirt was $1 though.”

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