>> December 23, 2011

ten things about thrifting

There's something intimidating about thrift stores.

It's not the same intimidation that you experience when you shop in an expensive store with snooty sales people and high price tags, but it's really just the opposite.


You know that musty smell masked by a cheap, nauseating air freshener you're hit with the moment you walk through the doors?

It's that.

It's the fact that you march up and down aisles with a shopping cart the same way you do at the grocery store.

It's the massive rectangular warehouse lined with piles, racks, and shelves crammed with other people's junk--and the crazy hoarders sifting through said junk looking for a "deal".

Well, I have become one of those crazy people (minus the hoarding, of course). I was incredibly intimidated by the idea of "thrifting" at one time, but I've figured out a few things since I started, that help me have a successful shopping trip every time.

Make Sure you Have Enough Time to Stroll: Thrift stores can be over-stimulating and if you’re in a rush, you’ll be wayyyy too stressed to find anything. Make sure you have plenty of time to shop slowly. My favorite time to go is in the middle of the day or early evenings. I never go on weekends because it gets too claustrophobic in there!
Choose a Nice Location:
Only go to a thrift store in a nicer part of town. The nicer the community is, the better their second-hand items usually are, which makes your thrifting experience a lot easier.
Go with Specifics:
Since thrift stores are filled with a mish-mash of items, it's best if you know what you're looking for. I usually go with some sort of color-specific agenda since I know that most of the racks are organized first by size, and then by color. This helps me block out all of the chaos that I know I'm not interested in.
Skip the Cotton:
If you are grossed out by the idea of wearing someone else's old t-shirts, just skip the "Knit Tops" section. You can find some quality items in that section, but the majority of it is stretched, stained, or stinky. Instead, head towards the sweaters or blouses.

Have a Use in Mind: The low prices and “here today, gone tomorrow” mentality are a good thing, but often lead to impulsive purchases that you’ll never wear. When you’re inspecting a garment, think to yourself “What do I already have in my closet that I could wear with this?”

Put it in the Cart: Thrift stores are a jumbled mess, so if you see something you might want, put it in your cart so you don’t misplace it! Make sure that you keep looking at it as you shop the rest of the store, and try it on before the final decision time.

Inspect the Clothes and Try Them On: Most thrift stores do not accept returns or exchanges, so it is important to inspect your garments for stains or rips before you buy them. Even if your sizing is always standard, most of these clothes have been washed and dried and maybe even stretched, so be sure to try everything on.

Don’t Buy it Unless you Love it: Even if it’s a $3 blouse, don’t buy it unless you know you’ll wear it. On the other hand, even if you don’t know what you’ll wear with it, if you love the item, buy it because chances are, it’ll be gone if you decide to go back for it later!

Clean Your Clothes: You never know how long your new old blouse sat in the previous owner’s garage before they got around to donating it, so you never know what kind of germs might be living in the garment. No big deal! Just make sure you wash it before you wear it.

Don’t Give Up: You must, must, must keep trying and shop often in order to score at these stores. It’s hard at first, but I promise that it gets easier! Maybe take a friend with you to divide and conquer!

I hope that helps everybody! Don't be afraid to check out your local thrift store. When I first started, I would only look at the "home" section for things like baskets, vases, and lamps.

So, there is definitely something for you--no matter what your comfort level is with second-hand shopping!  


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Pippa April 18, 2012 at 3:17 PM  

What is your favorite thrift store? You have found some great stuff!!!

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