I remember before becoming a die hard thrifter how intimidated I was by the whole thing. It always seemed like everyone was finding these amazing things at thrift stores and every time I visited I seemed to turn up nothing but junk. I have found that the key to becoming successful at thrifting is persistence and patience.
If you only visit a thrift store every now and then, chances are you aren't going to find much. In the beginning I would go once every few weeks, when I remembered too or when I passed by one, sometimes I would find something cool but usually I would come home empty handed. Now I visit several stores a week and my favorites, I visit numerous times a week. By doing this I have scored some truly amazing finds like a gorgeous antique credenza with inlaid wood for $15, our mid century dresser for $20, several vintage coats, and about half of my current wardrobe!
Don't think that every trip is going to turn up things like this. To find all of these things I had to come home empty handed, a lot. There are weeks that go by when my trips don't turn up a single thing. This can become really frustrating and a little depressing but it's totally worth it when you have that one amazing day where it seems like the clerks laid everything out in the store just for you (and trust me there will be days like this!)
Map out the thrift stores that are close to your house and visit them often, at least once a week. Ask the clerks if the stores have special sale days. The Salvation Army has 50% off of clothing on Wednesdays and weekly furniture sales that usually run on Fridays or Saturdays. Get to the store as early as you can on these days to find the best items. Have fun with and don't get discouraged, before you know it you will have established your own thrifting route and will be coming home with tons of amazing finds!
Photos: The Design Boards