10 rules to thrift store shopping:
1. Start with a good attitude: Hands down, you have to be in the mood to search! 90% of thrift stores are disorganized and flat out messy. You have to go in with a specific mind-set that is free of expectations and time constraints. If you are having one of those days, where you’re just not “feeling it,” you should stop shopping and try another day.
2. Deal days: Always know what kind of sales or promotions the store is featuring. I know that the Goodwill and the Salvation Army have daily deals. I used to frequent a thrift store in Chicago that every Monday the entire store was half off!! Do not be afraid to ask a cashier what their daily and weekly specials are, a lot of stores have holiday specials too.
3. Do your homework: Be a smart consumer and know your retail prices. I will not pay more at a thrift store for something I could have bought brand new for the same price (or at least really close to the same price). You would think this is a huge “DUH!” but I have seen a Kmart brand dress for $24.99 before. Often times the people who price clothing and things at thrift stores are not super savvy and they do not know which items to charge more for and which ones not to. The Goodwill by my house will charge $15-$20 for DKNY and Lucky Brand Jeans and then only mark Joe's Jeans for $7.99. I laugh and appreciate the deals I get, but I also make sure they don’t over charge me on something from a discount store.
4. Quality Control: I am guilty of this, but you must check all the clothing before purchasing for tears, holes, stains, broken zippers etc... Most thrift stores will not check the clothing for working zippers or missing buttons, that is your job as the consumer. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to buy a new purse and the zipper won't work or to get a new dress and realize there is a hole in the side. Check and then check again!
5. Be Practical: Try to steer clear of items you cannot match with anything in your closet. Again, I am guilty of this, I often times find an amazing top or skirt that I am sure I can find something to go with, but I’m usually wrong. I have an awesome Arden B blouse in my closet right now that I bought 2 months ago and I have nothing to wear it with, ugh! I am still searching for it’s perfect mate, but thinking back on it, I probably could have gone with out it.
6. Mix it up: Try not to buy only one type of clothing or one color. I color coordinate my closet and It is very evident black is the predominant color. I always keep this in mind when thrifting and I steer clear of the black section. I also use this same rule with shoes and purses, and if I already have similar styles and colors I will have to really weigh my options!
7. Check the store return policy; I never knew that the Goodwill (in Los Angeles) had a 7 day return policy on clothes and electronics (not on shoes or purses though). I think that return policies are few and far between with Thrift stores but it never hurts to ask. I like return policies because it gives me a chance to take something home and see how it will work with my other garments. I also I hate trying things on (which leads to my next rule) so, If I can return the clothes, then I don’t have to waste my time in the store trying them on.
8. Trying on everything is essential: I loathe trying on clothes, if I can avoid it I will! However there have been dozens of times I just knew something would fit and I tried it on anyways, then it looked like crap. It happens all the time, some things look better on the hanger and vice versa; That is a little trick my momma taught me at a young age. My mom used to make me try things on even when I thought they were ugly and she told me “you never know what it will look like on.” I use this little nugget of wisdom every time I go to the thrift store and I pick up things that might scare people, just to see if it looks good on. If you can’t experiment in the thrift store, where else can you?
9. Practice makes perfect:The more you go, the better you get! I am privileged to work from home and that means I can go to the thrift store whenever I want! I tend to go to the thrift store at least twice a week. Even if I do not buy anything, thrifting is therapeutic for me, so I like to go often. I also think if I go more frequently I won’t miss out on anything (truth is you can’t miss what you never knew was there, so I’m a little crazy). I create a lot of excuses to go to the thrift store, but the truth is, the more I go, the more comfortable I become with the store. You can eventually learn how to look at racks and pick out patterns, textures or colors. I no longer have to touch every piece of clothing to know which ones I’m interested in. I can look at an entire rack of jeans and immediately be drawn to the designer ones. It is truly a skill to know how to shop in thrift stores, but it can be honed!
10. Shop for the Now: Try to stay away from fixer-uppers or things you want to sell. I have learned from my experience that I rarely follow through on projects with thrift store finds. I have had thoughts of shortening dresses, dying pants etc.. and in the end I never find the time or eventually forget. You may not have the same problem but I strongly suggest only purchasing things you can use right now. This rule also goes for not buying pants that are two sizes too small in hopes of fitting in them by summer. Trends change so quickly, don’t buy things you cant enjoy immediately. Also, linked in with my last rule is be very careful of buying things you think you can resell. I have been blameworthy of this, so I speak from experience. I find a lot of designer things I think I can resell to a consignment shop or on eBay and I rarely get my money back. Unless you have an eBay store or resell clothing for a living I wouldn’t mess with this as a hobby.
If you have any questions, comments or recommendations I would love to hear about them! Please share you own thrifting experiences I love to hear how others find deals !!!!