Sometimes I tend to make a comment about how I absolutely love going to thrift stores around my house for their book selections. I am certain I am not the only one, simply because we are all book lovers!
If you’re anything like me, you have the conundrum of spending way above your budget on books at your local bookstores (i.e Indigo/Chapters, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc). I will tell you, without a doubt, that thrift stores are some of the best treasure troves full of books. Not only can you get first editions and leather-bound copies, but you can buy books that are sometimes practically new from 50 cents to two bucks! Imagine that! How many books could you buy then and still stay within budget?
So this tutorial will probably be nothing new to the Thrift Store enthusiasts, but to those who have never had the chance or are wary of giving them a shot, the art of shopping for books at a thrift store is quite simple!
What you will need:
- Your credit/debit card or more than 20 bucks, because you might get overly zealous on your first trip
- A bag of your own (preferably a big market environment bag that you can buy at any grocery store.) I’m not sure how it is in the U.S. but here in Canada we usually need these bags to avoid paying the 30 cents per plastic bag.
- Time. Trust me, saying, “I’ve got an errand to run, but I’ll just stop by here,” will not work. At all. Give yourself time, because patience is the perfect key for any book rendezvous in thrift stores.
- Some stores offer free membership stamp cards that can get you some discounts. Check to see if they have them at your location!
- Finally, a student card. A lot of stores give discounts for us being students. And you thought being a student was a nuisance!
The steps for this one are a lot less than my previous post, but keep in mind that they are still very much important towards your goal of a successful shopping spree.
Find a location near you. I know this sounds simple, but trust me, do you really want to walk out of a store with a bag or two full of books and think about the journey back home? Unless you’ve got a car to help you out, please look for the nearest location possible!
If you’re one of those people who feels oddly out of place at a thrift store, stop and ponder for a minute if your embarrassment/awkwardness is worth missing out on super inexpensive books that have character.
I add this as a step because I know a few people who would never walk into a thrift store because they don’t like them. This is where I’d like to remind you that thrift stores don’t just sell used things, but cheaper things that you can make your own. The clothes are retro (and usually in style), you can find designer bags sometimes, and they’ve got pretty cute little trinkets. But, for us, the most important thing to keep in mind is that by allowing your fear to overwhelm you, you’re missing out on a GREAT EXPERIENCE.
Grab a cart. Sounds pretty practical, yes, but when I first started going I did not consider this AT ALL. I would look pretty comical holding arm-loads of books while juggling my bag and still trying to peer at the novels around me.
A cart not only frees your arms, but lets you look with more comfortability and leisure.
Finally you’ve maneuvered yourself around the other customers and find yourself in front of (depending on your store) bookcases among bookcases of books. You may find yourself overwhelmed, but don’t give up. Don’t tire just yet. This takes time, I warned you, just let yourself go. You’re in no rush, so just breathe.
I will separate this step into 2 sub-steps because of the variations you may encounter!
Sub-Step i… for if your store only has a few bookcases:
- Give the shelves available a quick glance over and pick out the immediate titles that appear interesting or familiar to you
- Having done the quick look-over, now return to the first bookshelf and begin examining the books, one by one. You’d be surprised at what you may find. The reason why I suggest this step is because sometimes our eyes search for the recognizable and most appealing texts. I believe that we all inadvertently judge a book by its cover… whether we want to believe it or not. So, by looking more closely at book titles you aren’t missing out on any books you might have not noticed in the quick glance. Plus, this part is actually pretty fun. The books you may find will amaze you!
- Finally, this is an optional point, but I would suggest giving the shelves ONE more looksee, since there might still be something you’ve missed in your excitement. You’ve no idea how many times I find a new book in this final stage!
Sub-Step ii… For if your store has so many bookshelves that they are categorized by genre:
- Breathe. I know this looks intimidating as hell, but honestly, this is going to be fun. Trust me.
- Figure out which genre is your favourite. If you’ve got multiples, then decide which one trumps the other.
- When you’ve got your genre, then go focus on THAT SET OF BOOKSHELVES. If you try to look at everything at once, you might start feeling a bit overwhelmed. When finding books, you should never feel this way. You should just let the energy and pull of the magnetic world of books draw you in… not anxiety.
- If you think you’re missing out on a shelf while focusing on another, don’t worry,it’ll still be there when you’re done. If someone takes a book while your focus is on a different genre, that’s okay too. You probably will never know which book they took and that may be easier to deal with than if you see them holding your all-time favourite novel by the best author that has ever graced your reading life.
- When you’ve narrowed down your search to the few given bookshelves to the genre you wish to peruse, follow the steps in sub-section i.
- If you’ve got time and patience, I suggest doing the same thing for other genres you enjoy. DON’T WASTE TIME ON GENRES YOU DON’T LIKE. This may frustrate you and might make you give up prematurely. If you still want to take the risk, go ahead. Like I’ve said, you never know what you may find.
Phew. Okay. You’ve got your books. Now what could there possibly be left to do now? Well, personally, the most important part, actually. When I search out novels, I tend to grab whatever looks interesting on first glance and chuck it into my cart. Sometimes, novels that I know I won’t enjoy make it into the cart, and the only way I can know that I won’t like them before spending money on them is if I DOUBLE-CHECK what I’ve chosen.
This is important. Unless you have a fantasy of owning every single novel in existence, I suggest double-checking your loot. If you don’t, you might not only end up buying a book that you won’t like, but someone else might be missing out on it since it isn’t available anymore! You’ve no idea how many I have gotten rid of during these inspections! I know the novels are cheap, but when you’ve got books that you know you won’t enjoy in your cart it adds up to a bad investment. Therefore, this step is CRUCIAL. Do not forget it.
So, you’ve paid and your bookshelves are looking fantastical with the addition of new adventures waiting for you. What’s next? CHOOSING WHAT TO READ!!! :D