How to have a successful thrifting trip

I’m getting back to the basics here.

Thrift Eye

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 :)

Donate stuff. Create jobs.

As a devoted Goodwill Industries lover, I’ve had many special moments while shopping there by myself, but also with family and friends. When I remember the afternoon I crooned to the oldies with an older employee there, it brings a smile to my face. So this just happens to be #GoodwillWeek with this short (and unpaid) message that when you donate to Goodwill and many other thrift stores, you are funding opportunities for many people to be employed or better prepared for the workforce.

Find your nearest Goodwill store HERE. The Goodwill about page states “Maximizing the value of your donations is important to us. In 2015, we used 85 percent of the revenue generated through your donated stuff to support and grow programs that result in significant social impact for your community members in need of work.” Their page that connects you to those job and career tools is HERE in case you know someone that may benefit from their services.

Made in the USA thrifting

This is the feature where I show you all that it’s quite easy to shop Made in the USA second hand!

Every time I’ve worn a dress to work the last month, everyone’s jaw drops when I tell them it’s a thrifted dress. I find it so crazy I can’t convert more people to my side – even when you show people they are contributing to recycling and saving money by thrifting. So these posts are my attempts to show you that you can always find items of great quality, in this case Made in the USA, while thrifting. Buying Made in the USA is not something exclusive to being very expensive and to brand new merchandise.

I’m hoping to continue posting and sharing more of these thrift store visits!

A vintage Assorti dress, this particular one was sold at SF local legend store I. Magnin. These dresses tend to be a mixture of patterns and colors, and just very funky!
Thrift Eye, thrifting, made in the USA, shop USA made

Or something simple like this black Aqua dress
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I see clothing from Collective Concepts at thrift stores all the time, did I never pay attention to see that some of it’s USA made too?! This firework/starry print is pretty cute!
Thrift Eye, thrifting, made in the USA, shop USA made

Or HEY! I found a dress I personally own (see HERE) by Clu :)
Thrift Eye, thrifting, made in the USA, shop USA made

Made in the USA thrifting

It’s been quite some time, but I thought I should bring back this feature where I show you all that it’s quite easy to shop Made in the USA second hand!

Why do I even do this? A few reasons – to show again and again, that you can shop items of quality while thrifting, sometimes (typically) of better quality than some brand new brands. Also, because Made in the USA has a stigma of being *expensive* Here I can find it inexpensively second-hand. But you have to remember, when you buy better quality and new, you pay more upfront for something that will/should last you significantly longer – which is why you should all be doing research about brands and quality (do your research, it saves money.)

Looking for Made in USA brands allows me to better inspect the quality of clothing I find while thrifting, acquaints me with more brands manufacturing in the US, but also allows me to find vintage pieces (90’s are sort of considered vintage now too) from a time well known brands still made in the US instead of overseas (like this Ann Taylor dress I thrifted).

Whenever I visit my parents, I go shopping at the local Veteran’s thrift store with my mom like the good ole days. I like coming here with her because they always have great dresses, and hey, the prices can’t be beat.

Wouldn’t this floral Nicole Miller dress be perfect for a wedding or big party?
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

This Trina Turk dress is ready for the summer sun
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

This little black cotton dress by my tshirt go-to brand, Three Dots, seems perfect for casual days.
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

This marled wool vintage coat would look great with some black slacks.
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

Then I came back home and went on a stroll to my local Goodwill – here are some things I found there.

I’ve actually been finding quite a bit of Trina Turk clothing second hand. I love the colors on this dress.
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

Reformation is a new brand to me, but they apparently make all their clothing out of recycled materials in the USA! It’s super cool, this dress was too sexy and too tiny for me.
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

Don’t look at the wrinkles! Look past the wrinkles! Oh the damn wrinkles! These yellow wool pants by Yigal Azrouel were actually the only thing I added to my wardrobe (you’ll see them soon in a post) Now I know what to wear when I want to be colorful at work! And yes, I ironed them ;)
Thrift Eye, thrifting, thrift shopping, made in usa at thrift stores, made in usa

If I can do it, so can you!