Thrift Regret is a disorder that plagues many thrifters and second hand shoppers and is 100% preventable! Learn below how to inoculate yourself against this ailment while also avoiding its counterpart condition, Buyer’s Remorse!

Thrifting in Alabama
This jacket is the most recent example of my Thrift Regret condition.  It was silk, sequinned, beaded and in perfect condition. For $5 I should have FOUND a party to take it to. #thriftregret

Warning: Graphic pictures of thrift regrets will be shown throughout this post. Viewer discretion advised.

Defining Thrift Regret

“Thrift Regret” is defined by the STMA* as:

what happens when you find something at the thrift shop, don’t buy it, and, after leaving the store, wish you had.

*Spirited Thrifter Medical Association

Thrift Regret is the opposite of thrifter’s remorse which is the second hand version of Buyer’s Remorse; when you find something at the thrift store, buy it, and later wish you hadn’t. Thrift Regret is a serious condition because all thrifters know that even if you turned right around and went back to the thrift shop, chances are slim your object of desire would still be there. These are the stakes of second hand shopping and the stakes are high, much higher than regular retail where there are multiples of each item and, worst case scenario, you just have to order another in. Not so with thrifting.

Thrift Regret
This tee was obviously giving me a motivational message, yet I left it behind like a fool. #thriftregret

Diagnosing Thrift Regret

In order to be diagnosed with Thrift Regret, you must meet the diagnostic criteria listed above and tell at least one person on Instagram that you regret your decision not to thrift the item in question. Specific symptoms of Thrift Regret vary.

Thrift Regret
This is a case of Thrift Regret sub-type Vintage. It is especially common for 44 year old women who wonder if they can still pull off funky vintage clothing.
Thrift Regret
This is Thrift Regret sub-type Vintage sub-type Belt. The patient passed on this dress without envisioning how cool it would look with a belt, leading to #thriftregret.
Thrift Regret
This is Thrift Regret sub-type Vintage sub-type Anthro. The patient failed to acknowledge that this vintage dress could totally pass for an Anthro dress, leading to #thriftregret.
Thrift Regret
Thrift Regret sub-type Pottery featuring a bunch of inexpensive pieces that could have adorned the tops of my cupboards had I been PAYING ATTENTION. #thriftregret

Dodging Thrift Regret

Let these photos of real authentic Thrift Regret be your warning. Thrifters, the only way to completely avoid Thrift Regret is by buying everything… So it’s possible to prevent Thrift Regret even if it’s not probable. There is no cure for Thrift Regret. The best you can do is dodge this dangerous condition when you can by listening to your heart first and your wallet second.

Thrift Regret
My wallet said, who needs fruit on their feet for $6. My heart was dancing out the store in fruity feet! Should have listened to my heart. #thriftregret
Thrift Regret
My wallet said, you have black Salt Water sandals that you wear all the time. My heart said, for two bucks, you can add some real-leather flower flair to an otherwise boring outfit. WHY WHY WHY?!!! As Heart says, “listen to your heart.” #thriftregret
Thrift Regret
Thrift Regret sub-type Bags featuring a bad case of missed leather totes, first in pink…
Thrift Regret
Then in teal. LEATHER BAGS. In great condition. Did I mention Thrift Regret symptoms may be prolonged if the patient neglected the purchase at a non-profit little thrift shop where the proceeds support the community. In this case, Thrift Regret practically takes money away from missions. #thriftregret
Thrift Regret
Thrift Regret sub-type Vintage sub-type Evening Bag. Thrift Regret denies the “Field of Dreams” philosophy: *If you thrift it, the occasion will come.* Don’t deny THE TRUTH or you’ll have #thriftregret.

Dressing the Wounds of Thrift Regret

Thrift Regret is painful. There is no cure. You can experience pain relief by going thrifting and taking photos of everything you like so at least you can gaze upon those happy memories once Thrift Regret settles in. (Results may vary. Some patients may in fact experience a worsening of Thrift Regret symptoms when they realize what they left behind. Take only under the advice of a D.S.T. – Doctor of Spirited Thriftology)

Thrift Regret
If I hold your picture just right, it’s like you’re here with me in my living room where you belong. #thriftregret
Thrift Regret
I’m sorry Beautiful Chair. I loved you but before I could buy you, some other woman bent on NOT catching Thrift Regret came along behind me and bought you right up. I understand what I have to do now and even if means loading 50 chairs in my cart while shopping, I’ll do it.  #thriftregret

Friends and fellow thrifters, there is no reason to hide your Thrift Regret. It is a common condition that affects 100% of second hand shoppers. The best treatment is prevention SO when thrifting, remember this: treat every item – whether clothing, housewares or furniture – as one-of-a-kind and proceed accordingly. Save this post, share it with your friends and do your part to prevent the spread of Thrift Regret.

xoxo Nicole

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Thrift Regret


  1. That little white chair would have been mine regardless if I had no clue where I would put it or if I could get it home! It will fit! There is also that awkward moment when you are looking at something and you can feel someone else nearby just waiting for you to release it so they can snap it up! ….both on the prey and hunter side! Awkward!

    • nicole

      YES that happens and I become a wild panther, or at least that’s what I feel like but I probably just look like crazy thrifter lady ;P One thing is for sure, thrifting is WAY more interesting than shopping regular retail! Thanks for the comment!

  2. You crack me up!! Well written , humorous but ver, very true. It happens to me all the time!

    • nicole

      I didn’t buy it though!!! GAHHHH If you go back through Alabama, go get it for me. HA xoxo

  3. Thrifting regret is such a painful affliction and like you said, there is no cure. There are items from three years ago that I passed on and still think about. I have been lucky enough to have found a few items that passed on still available when I went back for them. Lesson learned: buy it if you love it. It’s a hard call sometimes. I call it the dreaded “maybes.” It’s not something that you love and know you have to have, and it’s not an obvious no. There have been maybes that I bought that have become closet stables and others that didn’t wotprk out and wound donated. I guess the answer is got take a chance and buy it anyway. If you make a mistake, it isn’t a huge loss money wise.

    • nicole

      You HAVE been lucky to return and find them! That might give me hope! (or maybe some fruitless return trips!!) The “dreaded maybes” is a great term and that happens to me all the time too – I think I’m going to love it then end up wearing it once and back into circulation it goes. Tis the thrift life! Thanks for the comment!

  4. Awww those leather sandals and bags! I feel that regret! The only good thing associated with this thrift regret disease is the avoidance of clutter disorder which can slowly crawl up on one…

    • nicole

      Yes, there are some benefits to the diagnosis! I do suffer from periodic clutter disorder! LOL