The Thrill of the Thrift: Tips From A Deal-Finding Junkie

You know how some topics in the world just light you up and make you feel alive? A subject you could give a TED Talk on because you feel so passionately? I have one of those topics.  You might be thinking, “Oh, that’s so sweet. She’s going to talk about her kids.” Ha — no. I’m going to talk to you about thrifting and buying/selling.

As an aspiring (and failing) minimalist, I’m always looking to declutter and make a little money along the way. I know that there are many venues when it comes to deals, so — full disclosure — I am not even scratching the surface.

The following are my favorite ways to buy and sell:

Facebook Marketplace

Think of this as the updated and safer Craigslist.  I think this one is incredibly user friendly.  Simply click on the Marketplace icon and then sell, that’s it. It walks you through the easy steps to list whatever item straight from your phone. Facebook also lets you add shipping as an option. I listed two of my kids’ old Halloween costumes the other day and both sold within 24 hours. You print the label from home, stick it on your package, and drop at the post office.

Saw these in the cabinet- hadn’t used in a year. Took a picture, put on Marketplace- gone in an hour.

Despite the shipping option, I mostly do porch pick ups with my buying and selling via Marketplace. I specify that in my listings and/or tell the interested buyer in conversation. The buyer can pay you through Facebook; however, I typically would advise using Paypal (insured) or having the person leave cash especially for larger ticket items. To make my life easier, I have the person tell me what day they are coming, and I put the item outside my front door first thing that morning so I don’t forget. I have them shoot me a message after pick up so I can grab the cash if applicable. I then mark the listing as sold. Back in the day when I was getting sleep, I would meet people at a neutral location. I am too tired for that now and haven’t had any issues with porch pick up, especially with most of my sales being to other moms.

When it comes to pricing, I always account for a lower offer so often mark things up slightly. I also say no holds because Marketplace has a way of attracting the world’s biggest flakes (i.e. “Yes! I want it and am coming on Friday!” and then he/she ghosts you). Trust me — don’t hold an item. Do first come first serve, with love.

Local Kids’ Consignment Sales

Consignment sales are the best place to find costumes- this was a new Disney costume for $5

My friends, I live for consignment season. These sales are the best. I shop for everything at these — clothes, shoes, toys, books — you name it. Your best bet is to follow the local ones on Facebook (or sign up for their e mails) to be in the know of when they are coming up. Most of the sales offer complimentary presale passes (a.k.a. get there before the best stuff is gone!) for new mamas, military, teachers, etc. Most sales also offer presale passes at a cost, which I feel is worth it to get first pick.

My tips with these sales is to inventory what you have at home and make a list of what you’re looking for. I always walk in the door to these sales and have a moment of freezing in overwhelm! A list helps me stay focused. Some items on the racks will go half off on half off day — so you can try your luck and come back for further discounts or just wait and shop the half off day itself.

You can also try your hand at consigning your own items.

Thrift Stores

Ergo baby carrier found for $6.99 at City Union Thrift

If you are in the mood for a good hunt, thrift stores are a blast. This is where you will most likely find your best deals, but the finds are more spotty. I mainly just shop clothes and try to only go on half off days — noticing a trend? You can get on email lists and receive text alerts for these sales. Some thrift stores will give you a coupon for a discount when you donate- win win!

Apps (Mercari, Kidizen, etc.)

There are a handful of sales apps, and to be honest, I haven’t gotten into selling through them as much because it takes time to upload every individual picture of items I’m selling. I have sold items this way and the company takes a cut — so my profit isn’t as high.

I like these apps for buying if I am looking for something specific such as a certain brand and size of shoes. You can also create a profile that curates a newsfeed full of sizes/items of interest to you. These buy/sell apps still have much to be explored in my world. Let me know if you have any tips for me!

Facebook Clothing Groups

This one is addicting. There are hundreds of groups on Facebook if you just search a brand or “boys clothes BST” (buy, sell, trade). If there is a higher-end brand you love but don’t want to pay retail for, this is a great way to go.

Bought and sold from a Facebook Matilda Jane group- ended up making money on this one!

In these groups, people buy and sell clothes by posting a picture, price, and description. Buyers claim by commenting “sold” with their PayPal email and are invoiced that way. Sellers can do large “purges” of a big batch of clothes and sell more to one buyer and save on shipping. I do a lot of my kids nicer brand name shopping this way. It basically turns into clothing rental — for example, I buy our favorite Hanna Andersson pajamas, wear for a year, then sell on the board and buy the next size up.

My tip here is to always go through PayPal so you are protected — most of these groups have that as a standing rule. Another tip is to read each group’s rules thoroughly — I may or may not have been temporarily “muted” for overlooking said rules. The admins can be intense, but for the deals, bring it on.

Being a thrifter takes time and effort. This has turned into such a hobby for me that in turn pays for coffee runs or just extra money in our account. The online world of buying and selling can be intimidating to dip your toe into, but I promise you, once you make that first $5 on some cookbook that has been sitting unused or you find your favorite brand of clothing for your child at 80% off, you will be a hooked. Or if not hooked, you’ll be $5 richer and you got a great deal!

I challenge you to buy or sell one thing — anything — through one of these formats and let me know how it goes! Happy thrifting!

Hi! I'm Megan, former teacher turned stay-at-home-but-never-home mom to Peyton, 7, and Gage, 4. I host the Kansas City MomCast podcast! I'm married to the most patient person on this earth, Chris, and we live in Overland Park with our kids, an insane lab, and two guinea pigs. You can find me over committing to everything, reading informational and self-help texts, listening to podcasts, organizing, spending time with friends over margaritas, thrifting, and staying up way too late to have peace and serenity. I love people and hearing their stories and look forward to connecting with KCMC readers!