I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in my pocket. Which means we’re on a budget and dealing with thrift store pricing!

Over the last several years secondhand shopping has been a popular, consistent trend. Thrift stores becoming normalized as a regular shopping option has some amazing benefits; notably the benefits it has for our environment. However, the thrifting phenomenon has some downfalls as well and a big example is the rise in prices.

Dealing with thrift store pricing can be a little intimidating and creates a distaste to secondhand shopping. Many start to feel there’s no use purchasing secondhand items for nearly the same price as new and we don’t want that! We need the thrifting market to stay alive and thriving. 

So what do we do? I do try and remember that stores have bills to pay and some of them have employees to pay as well. I do also believe, however, that there are limits to what we should have to pay for secondhand items and nothing will change if we as consumers don’t raise these concerns.

The biggest need the thrift world has right now is for pricing in stores to be fair, inviting and more accessible. Here’s my top tips on dealing with thrift store pricing! 

Every chain of secondhand stores has their own way to decide the price of their donations. Not to mention it also depends on the employee who is pricing as well. While some stores follow a set pricing guide no matter the brand (example, sweaters are $7.99, t-shirts are $3.99…) other stores will judge pricing based on it’s value. Example: Mission Thrift Stores will check what it’s selling for online and then mark it 50% less. Some stores will just price it at whatever price they see fit.

So, let’s say you’re shopping at Value Village and you find a piece of clothing you love; problem is you know they’ve way overpriced it. You feel defeated, leave it behind and curse Value Village for raising their prices so high. 

A classic example that has popped up in my messages many times! 

I’ve been in this situation myself many times. I try to keep each article of clothing I buy under a certain price point and because of this many pieces I loved have been left for the next person. 

The problem with either leaving the piece of clothing for the next person to pick up at that price is the message it leaves for the store. If we don’t raise our concerns and continue to accept prices as they are stores will continue to leave them that way. 

Instead of leaving things behind I started asking for price adjustments. Not in a Karen sort of way – in a, find an employee and nicely ask if it’s possible for a lower price. I usually give a reason (and that reason is almost always that it’s too close to the retail price!) and if they deny the request, I leave it be. 

Next time you’re unhappy with the price at a thrift store find an employee and let them know you’re unhappy with the current pricing. Unsure how to word it? I’ll give you some great examples:

“Sorry to bother you! I found this great shirt on your rack, however I’ve noticed it’s priced higher than the retail price. Could you have your pricing employees review it before I decide on whether I purchase it?”

“Hey there! Just wondering – is that the right price for this item? It seems a little high for this brand/quality/quantity. Could I get a price review on it?”

“Hey! I was browsing and fell in love with this piece, however it has the original tag that shows you’ve overpriced it. Is it possible to get the price adjusted accordingly since I’m buying it second hand?”

“I really love this item, but I was wondering if I could have a lower price on it? A 20% discount would be great by me!”

You get the idea. I have seen others suggest ripping the tag off and saying the item didn’t have a price tag when you found it. However, this can very easily backfire on you and have you end up with a higher price than you started with. Take it from me – I’ve had it happen! There are some companies who frequently won’t actually sell you the item anymore if you come up to the cash with no sticker. It’s their way of fighting back against stickers being taken off.

It’s important to remember one thing when doing this – be kind. It’s human to make mistakes and being kind in your requests will get you further than talking down to the employees working there. The employee’s working the floor are usually not the ones deciding the prices and some stores have pricing guides the staff have to use when pricing too.

Having worked in retail so long I know the importance of not only raising concerns to the store employees but to head office as well. 

If you want to voice your opinion on the stores pricing policy make sure you direct your complaints to the right person. The staff member at the cash you’re yelling at can’t change anything – send your concerns to head office, where decisions are made.

Overall, I’m tired of dealing with thrift store pricing and I wish all secondhand stores like Value Village (Savers), Salvation Army and Mission Thrift Store would move to an affordable, basic pay scale based on item type and not a value that an employee decided it should have. After all, they are donations to begin with! The kind of affordable pay scale that allows all budgets to shop.

The TLDR version of all of this:

1) Decide on what price range you’re comfortable staying in for items ahead of time. 

2) Don’t be shy to do a little bit of kind haggling to get the price lowered.

3) Write to head office on a regular basis letting them know you’re not pleased with their current pricing.

While dealing with thrift store pricing can be annoying I still encourage you to shop secondhand before you buy new whenever possible. As I always say, there’s enough “stuff” on this planet for everyone already. Let’s give it the love it deserves instead of sending it to landfill. 



Make any cool finds while you’re out thrifting? Upload them to Instagram and tag me in them – or use the #beingthisthriftma hashtag

Be sure to check out some of my other thrifting articles: 




THRIFT HAUL – 12/24/2019



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  1. Sally Porterfield

    July 16, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Yes the donations are free. However, paying the rent, electric, employees, supplies, etc. is costly.

  2. Christina

    August 23, 2023 at 7:27 am

    I have a thrift store where everything has a base price, and we discount it over a month until itt goes to free! We’re are able to giveaway 50% off all our donations for free and cover all of our operating expenses!

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