5 tips on hunting craft materials in thrift stores (+free worksheet)

thrifting craft materials

Hey there. If you’ve read my about page (does anybody even do that I wonder?) you probably have noticed that I love visiting thrift stores. If not I’m confessing one more time of being thriftaholic.  Today I want to share with you my years of experience visiting thrift stores for craft materials through  five simple tips below. Thrift stores are great not only because you can obtain materials dirty cheap but also because by buying second hand you consume less and that makes mother Nature happy. Oh, and I made a special freebie worksheet which you can get at the end of the post. So let’s go!

1. Don’t rely on one source

Maybe you already have your favorite local thrift store and it’s enough for you. Wrong. If you really want to find good deals you should constantly visit at least 3-5 thrift stores. Why is that? As I have experienced myself, different thrift stores have different strengths even if they belong to the same chain. One has a great variety of fabrics, another is selling cheap vintage purses and third always surprises me with long straps of beaded necklaces. Take advantage of these strengths and have them in mind when searching for specific items.  If you don’t find that many stores around your home, check out your working area or surroundings of your most visited relative/friend.

2. Pay special attention to sales

Unexperienced thrifters are sometimes overwhelmed by the prices in thrift stores on regular days. They maybe very similar to regular shops selling new things. But all thrift stores have super sales. And I strongly recommend checking out on those special days. Some stores have special weekdays, some spread their sales monthly. Some sales are like 50% off, others offer everything for 1 $. Get to know your thrift store’s sale system either by looking on special posters inside or checking out store’s website or even Facebook page (yes thrift business is getting modern too). The day of the dirtiest sales is the brightest for craft materials hunters. And you’ll discover why in following tip.

3. Know what to look for

While for regular thrifters “everything for 0.50$” sale means  there is only useless junk left for us it’s a jackpot.  Those stained wooden frames require only one coat of white paint to come to life again. That vintage sweater has a big hole in it? But maybe those cute metal buttons could be your next coolest pair of stud earrings? Funny looking oversized jacked? But maybe it’s made from real leather, a material used in many great craft projects. Maybe that crochet doily won’t adorn your coffee table but could be easily transformed into dream catcher together with wooden beads from that funny looking necklace you bought from another store? Well, you got the message. Keep open not only your eyes but mind as well. Many of the damaged or outdated thrift pieces on sale can be transformed into something fresh and beautiful.

4. Be consistent

I’ve met many people who get inspired to start thrifting while talking to me and then give up only because they couldn’t find anything worthy after first visit. In reality, thrift stores are more like unknown attics and less like supermarkets. One day you can leave empty handed and other with bags full of dirty cheap cute fabric. The key to success is not visiting often but visiting the right stores at the right time. If you still remember first and second tip you may have already figured out that visiting same stores daily is quite useless. Mark your calendar for sales or new arrivals and visit your favorite thrift stores on the first day of sale (preferably in the morning to pick all the cherries). Visit on those days consistently – every week or month depending on the thrift store’s system.

5. Don’t force yourself

For me thrifting is always refreshing and exciting unlike shopping in regular malls. But many people feel like they’re wasting their time browsing through all that old junk. If you are one of them don’t force yourself. Thrifting should be all about fun. Maybe you could just spend 10 minutes searching for nice beads at jewelry stand and then leave? Or maybe you have a friend who loves visiting thrift stores more often than you? Ask her to keep an eye for something you need. I always love to buy bargain things for someone I know they are seeking.


Hopefully these tips will help you in your future thrift store hunting and fill your craft materials stash with cheap and quality goods. I also prepared free printable worksheet which covers all the main points we’ve just discussed here. Grab it now, fill it out and be ready for you next thrifting in minutes!

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Do you like visiting thrift stores? What was your best catch? Share your experience in comments!