I’m getting back to the basics here.
As a person who just took an almost 2 month long hiatus from thrifting, I came back to it refreshed with some tips! Thrifting can be daunting, exhausting, and sometimes frustrating – even for seasoned veterans! But no worries, as someone who has been expertly thrifting for so long – I have some great tips.
Not all thrift stores are created equal
The more you thrift, the more you will begin to notice certain likes and dislikes about the locations you visit. For example – some may have lots of vintage (you may or may not be into that.) The level of order and neatness is better at some versus others. Sometimes there are no fitting rooms, hmph! Sometimes the prices are just too high. But you may just find that one place that always seems to deliver when you visit. I used to have a place like this, and it was always worth the effort to drive a little out of the way because I knew I would find something great! Which then leads to –
Don’t buy to just to buy
Just because the prices are low, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. This may be the most difficult rule to abide by. When prices are cheap and the selection wide, it is almost impossible to not buy something! But do you really need to buy shoes that are too big or too small just because they’re cute? Or that one thing you already have a bunch of at home? Or maybe that really trendy thing that you’re kinda iffy on wearing BUT it’s so on trend. Perhaps it’s something you really need but in a color you would never be caught wearing. Yeah, all those things are just a few reasons to not buy something. And hey, maybe you have other important things you need to pay and prioritize. I don’t think there have been any documented cases of people dying because they left something behind unpurchased at the thrift store.
Look in areas not marked your size
Some thrift stores try really hard to get organized. A big thank you to them! But like most stores, after many open hours with people shuffling through, things will get moved around. After a few hours, people will try on clothes or contemplate clothes, then drop it off in areas it wasn’t selected from. Which is why it can be so time consuming, you often have to look through the whole store! I actually particularly enjoy looking right around the fitting rooms to see what people have recently tried on but left behind. And hey, it’s sometimes worth looking out of your gender or even in kids/baby clothes! Things really do get mixed up a lot sometimes.
Scout the bonus of the day!
Score! Lot’s of thrift stores have special markdown pieces or colors every day which will sometimes be half off, or even something special like 99 cents! The Savers I would frequent in Las Vegas had a handy little monthly calendar they liked to give out. My mother lives for Senior days at her Veterans thrift store. Goodwill has a daily color but they often have big discounts on holidays.
Buy off season
When do I buy my winter/fall coats? In the summer. Often times, the stores will try to move off season merchandise to make room for in seasonal pieces. I can still recall my mom thinking I was bonkers for buying a wool coat during a heatwave in their LA suburb. But I explained that I wear these coats all the time in San Francisco!
If you can, try it on
I rarely leave a thrift store without trying on my purchases first. I have no room in my closet for things that don’t fit me. I have long legs and a shorter torso with some curves, if I don’t try on pants at a thrift store, I’m saying hello to camel toe fupa wedgie. No thank you. Trying something on also lets you meticulously inspect something before you buy it. Maybe the person donated the thing because it had a stain, rip, tear, broken zipper etc. I’d rather discover it in the store than at home (especially since most thrift stores have a no returns policy.)
Practice Thrift Store Karma
I am the crazy person that makes sure all hanging items are secured on the hanger as I browse. I pick up all things that fall. EVEN if I wasn’t the one that dropped them. If something slips off the hanger, I don’t pretend to not see it or kick it under the rack (as I see almost everyone else do.) I pick these things up and put them back. Not because I’m shaming anyone. I seriously believe that I’m receiving karma for keeping the place neat and clean. It makes shopping more pleasurable for everyone. Plus, the employees work really hard already, I don’t need to make bigger messes.
I have other shopping specific tips I’d like to share in another post for another time! But I’d like to hear any of your tips, if you have any :)