HGTV Host Lara Spencer Spills The Tea On Her Best Thrifting Advice

HGTV host Lara Spencer is definitely no stranger to thrifting. As HGTV reports, the morning news personality is an antique enthusiast whose passion has turned into several projects, including books such as "I Brake for Yard Sales" and "Flea Market Fabulous" and even the HGTV show "Flea Market Flip." Her passion for thrifting started when she was a child, and over the years, she's honed her skills and learned a few tips and tricks for the best results. Thrifting remains a big part of her life for one major reason — as she told HGTV, "You never know when you'll stumble upon a one-of-a-kind treasure." And, we're not just talking about items that you find value in — as Moneywise detailed, there have been thrift store finds that are worth anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars.

However, for many thrifting novices, the entire process can seem overwhelming, as The Good Trade reports. After all, you're literally looking for the treasures amidst shelves upon shelves of random items. Luckily, Spencer has several tips, including ones you can do before you even set foot in a store.

Her first tip is simple — plan it out. She recommends mapping out the stores, sales, or markets you want to browse. While this involved gathering various newspapers and maps back in the day, now it couldn't be easier — "We do it all online," says Spencer. This will help you cover all the spots you want to in the most efficient way possible.

Head out with a vague shopping list in mind

Part of the fun of thrifting is finding unique items that you didn't even know you needed until you set your eyes on them in a market or store. However, as HGTV reports, Spencer suggests it can be helpful to have a list of certain types of items you're looking for, such as a statement chair or brass accessories. This can help you really zero in on these types of items and bring home unusual thrifted pieces that you need in your home.

Homemade Ginger concurs, advising beginner thrifters that a list can help narrow which areas of the store or market they're thoroughly browsing, which can help reduce that feeling of overwhelm. Spencer does warn you to leave a little flexibility for those amazing finds, though, advising thrifters to "Keep an open mind."

If you're not quite sure what items to place on your shopping list, Spencer has another fantastic tip — keep the colors or patterns you're drawn to in mind. "If you don't know what you like or what you're looking for, start with color," she tells HGTV. Again, this can help you hone in on certain items within an overflowing store or market. For example, Spencer herself notes that pink is her go-to color for home accessories, so pink decor items always catch her eye while thrifting.

Be strategic in your browsing

If you're only visiting one flea market or thrift shop or have hours to browse and enjoy that experience, by all means — take your time. However, if your thrifting plans involve hitting a few different spots in search of certain categories or colors of items, you may want to be a bit more strategic in your browsing.

Spencer advises via HGTV that you should start by doing an initial scan of the overall space once you enter before you really dive in and sort through the items in search of gems. "It's all about conditioning your eyes," Spencer explains. Taking a bigger-picture view may help you find an area bursting with mid-century modern accessories, for example, or spot a large furniture piece in a wood tone you love.

After your initial scan, Spencer recommends doing two laps around that market or shop — no more, no less. "Trust your gut," she advises. The second lap will serve as insurance, making sure you didn't miss anything incredible in your first lap. Any more than that, though, and you may be wasting time revisiting the same items you already decided against. In a similar vein, The Krazy Koupon Lady recommends setting a time limit to ensure you're thorough but not wasting too much time on items you won't end up buying.

Don't give up

Many thrifting novices stop by a shop or market once or twice, don't find anything, and simply conclude that thrifting just isn't for them. Or, they may blame their area for the lack of quality items that catch their attention. However, Spencer's years of experience in the thrifting game lead to one of her other big tips — don't give up. "Thrift shops and flea markets are ever-changing kaleidoscopes of treasures. That's the fun of it. You never know what you're going to get," she told HGTV.

For most experienced thrifters, repetition is the name of the game. Homemade Ginger suggests visiting about once a week at the minimum if you're on the hunt for a particular item because thrift stores and markets are constantly getting new stock. Thrifting Secrets likewise flags a weekly visit as the minimum for successful thrifting.

You may also want to keep the day of the week in mind. While some thrift stores or markets may replenish their stock on a daily basis, it's likely more common that there'll be one or two days per week when they really cycle in some new items. As The Krazy Coupon Lady recommends, finding out which days your often-visited thrift stores restock their inventory will allow you to catch those new finds.