Shopping at thrift stores may begin as a necessity, but after time and practice it develops into an art form. After enough good finds at great prices, it becomes a hobby, a leisure activity to be enjoyed and savored.

There are methods of finding little treasures- and sometimes big ones. You may not find an original copy of the constitution, but keep working on it. In the meantime, here are a few tips.

First of all, don’t let the section throw you off. One of my favorite places to look for vintage clothing and kimonos is the pajama rack. You can find authentic African clothes, kaftans, kimonos and Asian silk items from an innocent- looking pajama rack. And even some cute pajamas.

Secondly, when you’re looking at dishes, always check the bottom of the item. “Made in China” is only acceptable if it’s an Asian- looking item, and it’s much better if there’s actual Chinese writing on it. You can find nice English china and other fine chinas just by looking for the stamp.

Also, it’s worth the work to look for handmade pottery. Sometimes this will have a company stamp and the artist signature, but usually it will just have the signature. There is a lot of pottery out there that looks authentic- until you check the bottom. It doesn’t need the artist signature (even though it’s nice), it needs to have the obvious look of something hand- turned. Check the photos for examples.

And of course, always check clothing labels! My husband is an annoyingly difficult size as a human beanpole, and yet I have found him authentic Lucky, Eddie Bauer, Silver Tab, and Calvin Klein jeans for between $6- $13. I’ve had many people’s jaws drop when I told them this (especially when they were wearing $160 jeans).

Another great thing to look for is folk art items. These are almost never signed, but you can tell when something is hand carved by the type of marks left by the tools. Nothing factory- made is going to have irregular tool marks.

Happy shopping, and good luck!