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Shopping at thrift or second-hand stores is more popular than ever, especially because the weak economy has forced everyone to cut back. However, many style-savvy shoppers have  purchased unique, inexpensive and fun clothing — by shopping at thrift stores. Keep these tips in mind during your next visit.

mckenzie harris

Go in with a plan

Thrift stores require a lot of rummaging, which can get time-consuming and tiring. Know ahead of time what you need instead of aimlessly searching around. Bring a picture of an outfit you would like to re-create to help guide you along each aisle and rack.

Go at the right time of day

Some thrift stores receive their inventory during the middle of the week, which can be a great time to shop. To beat the crowds and find the best deals and steals, shop early in the morning. Call the store and ask for their regular sale schedule to score an even better deal on your items.

Be honest with yourself

The thrift store is a great place to purchase pieces that add some flair to your daily style. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I currently own anything that will match this? Will I invest in alterations if it’s too big? Does this complete the outfit I’m trying to re-create? If you answered no to these questions, then put it down and keep it moving.

Always try it on and triple-check everything

It’s crucial to try your items on because styles, fits and size labels have changed immensely over time. Blazers, jackets and other outerwear are safe to slip on in the mirror. Pay attention to details of the clothing and pass on anything that’s stretched out or too worn. Look for any stains, marks, broken seams, odors or any missing buttons, beads or sequins. Buttons can be replaced easily and even randomly mixed up for a fun revamped look.

Pay attention to quality

There are some great one-of-a-kind treasures worth finding among what can seem like piles of junk. You just might stumble up on a great Chanel sweater from last season, vintage, high-waist Levi jeans or a rugged, well-worn pair of Frye cowboy boots. Just don’t forget to wash your clothes before wearing them.

Tip: Shop the men’s and children’s section for oversized and shrunken fits.

What are your thrift-store techniques? Share your thrift experience with us below.