Last week, I talked about some tips for finding brand new clothes at cheap prices. This week, I am talking about my true shopping love- thrift stores! I have been thrift shopping since long before it was “cool”. Some people are still resistant to it, but I am telling you it is the best place to find a great wardrobe at an affordable price. People are often shocked to know that so much of my clothing comes from thrift stores, but I know I donate plenty of perfectly nice clothing to thrift stores and others do the same. I love thrift stores because you really just never know what you are going to find. I walk out of thrift stores with so much brand new clothing with the tags still attached and even more items that may have been worn a few times but still look brand new. I love the variety and inspiration that comes when digging through the racks of your favorite thrift shop. I love scoring “high end” items for a few bucks and my favorite brands for about 90% cheaper than they were in the store. I have done a lot of thrifting in my life, so here are a few of my best tips-
- Don’t expect to find classic, staple pieces at thrift stores. I do occasionally score a pair of great black dress pants but staple pieces (think white shirts, black shoes etc) often get pretty well worn before getting donated. I usually buy staples at regular stores and use thrift shops to add fun novelty items to my wardrobe.
- Get to know your thrift stores. Some stores put out new items every day, some have designated days each week. Many thrift stores have a 50% off or bag sale day weekly or monthly. Since thrift shopping is usually not for anything I really need, I make it a point to only go on these sale days and I save even more than I do at the regular discounted prices.
- Check items out thoroughly. Most items I find at thrift stores are 100% fine, but some items are donated due to small holes, stains etc. Some things can be fixed- a missing button or a falling hem but it is still important to make sure it is something you will actually fix instead of sending to the mending pile to sit forever.
- Know how the store is organized. It seems every thrift store I am in has a different system of organization. Some are done by size, others by style and some even by color. There is usually at least some distinction between men’s and women’s but that is about the only guarantee. I wear an XL and I usually check out the XL section and the plus size section because some XL items inevitably get put in there. I do find the more organized a thrift store is, the more expensive it is, so I try not to get too frustrated with the chaos. Having some idea how it is organized helps.
- Give yourself plenty of time. I will certainly pop in to one of my favorite thrift stores with 15 minutes to spare, but I don’t recommend it. Thrifting takes time. There are racks to dig through, items to inspect, lines to wait in and decisions to make.
- Give yourself a budget and stick to it! It is easy to get carried away at a thrift store. Things are so cheap and you just keep finding one more thing. All of those $1-$5 items add up though and you can easily blow your budget. Know what you can really afford to spend beforehand.
- Thrift stores are great for accessories too! I find a lot of purses this way. Shoes are kind of hit and miss. Most shoes that I do find in good shape are not the most practical but I have definitely found some great special occasion shoes.
- Check how the tags are attached!!!! This is my thrifting pet peeve and something many people do not think about. Some stores will attach price tags right to the garment with staples (I am talking to you Salvation Army) and it is impossible to remove the tag without damaging the item. Be sure price tags are attached to the inside tags of shirts or with the little plastic things that can just be easily cut.
- Bring Cash. It is not uncommon for a thrift store to not be able to accept payment cards. Those machines cost money and there is a fee for business to take cards and most thrift stores have very limited budgets.
- Once you get your items home- Wash Them! Better safe than sorry is my theory here. Clothes get washed and dried or dry cleaned. Shoes get sprayed with antibacterial cleaner inside and out and wiped down.
- Donate to your favorite thrift shops when you are getting rid of things. Most thrift shops are through charitable organizations and the money you spend goes to help others. Once you are done with an item, give back. It is the best way to keep the cycle going.
Do you thrift shop?