After reading some other bloggers takes on the do's and do not's (some of which I agreed with and some of which I didn't), I wanted to share some of my tips for you to keep in mind for successful op shopping/thrifting.
Op Shopping / Thrifting Tips
Don't be afraid to dig! Although many op shops today are lifting their game (and their prices) with regards to the display and sorting of their stock, many are also charities which are not the best in this area, so it really pays to have a look through everything. To me this can be part of the fun. That perfect bag might be on the bottom of a pile of terrible bags. That really sweet babydoll dress might be in the kids section!
Check for major flaws, especially if you are not someone who's great with stain removal or handy with a needle and thread (or if you just know you will never get around to fixing stuff!). There's nothing worse than getting home with your new dress and finding a huge rust stain or snag you didn't see earlier. I have a huge pile of clothes which need to be fixed and have come to realise its better for me not to pick up things which need a little TLC as I'd rather spend my time on other pursuits.
Have an idea of what you are looking for.
Before you go, work out what pieces you'd love to find. Are you looking for a summer dress? A winter coat? leather belt, handbag etc.. This helps with direction so you don't end up with stuff which your wardrobe just doesn't need. This also helps if you are visiting one of those huge stores where you could spend all week digging through everything! BUT don't necessarily limit yourself to the things on your mental or physical list (unless you are lucky to be thrifting somewhere big) -you might find thrift gold but its not something on your list. If it fits and you love it, you know you'll wear it and the price is right then Woot!! This is what thrifting is all about :-)
Know your favourite fabrics and colours.
Again this is for direction but it will also mean you will love your clothes more. Love silk? Get to know how it feels and you can run your hand along a rack of clothes and narrow it down to the silk ones. Prefer synthetics because they are easier to wash? Get to know the feel and look for those. Keeping in mind the colours which suit you means you are more likely to end up with clothes which you look fabulous in! I love pink but I have rosy pink cheeks so its not a good colour for me to wear. So when thrifting I try to keep my eye out for more flattering hues such as blues and greens.
Try things on. This may seem obvious but its not worth buying something if it doesn't fit like a dream. So you found an amazing dress, but it doesn't quite fit you right, unless you are great at alterations or are going to display it -leave it. If its something easily fixable like the hem needs shortening and you're a wizz with a sewing machine then go for it! If not, my advice is leave it for someone else and the thrifting karma gods will smile on you another time.
Go often if you can
Things are always coming and going in these stores so by going often you increase your chances of finding something awesome.
Pick your Shop/s
Different thrift stores have different vibes. Church affiliated shops tend to be a lot cheaper in my experience, as they are run for charity by volunteers. But they are also often smaller and less well organised. Stores will often reflect the areas they are in. For example in swankier suburbs the residents will be more likely to donate better quality stuff.
Have fun with it!
Go with a friend if you can, smile, laugh at some of the outrageous/terrible clothes you'll see.
Have fun and feel good that you are reducing by re-using, saving your money and most likely helping out a charity!