Saturday, March 3, 2012

10 Tips for Thrifting

A lot of people ask me how I find such awesome Thrift finds.
Well, people, it's  a craft.
You have to learn a few tricks, buy some serious crap you probably should never have bought (and later regretted and ended up re-donating), and spend serious time in second-hand stores before you become a pro.
Here are 10 tips I've compiled that help me find great deals.

1.  Know your stores and the way they do things.  My favorite stores are those that organize by department, then by type, then by size.  There is nothing worse to me than trying to thrift when a store has organized by color.  Really?  Who wants to fish for a shirt when you have 300 orange shirts, XXS-XXXL mixed together?  My Favorite Goodwill allows me to pick a type of clothing I want, then go to my size.  I can choose from there as to whether any of the items are "worthy".  I am most successful at these stores.

2.  Picky about where your donations go?  Know where your cash is going by looking or asking who your thrift store donates to.  Most thrift stores are affiliated with a particular charity, while others aren't (these are usually labeled as "consignment" stores in which stores buy clothes from people and resell them).  Personally, I don't really care.  If I truly want to help someone else, I don't want something in return.  Me thrifting=cheap, great clothes.  Donations to charity are just a perk.

3.  Know your brands.  I am usually not a brand-whore, but I am when I thrift.  I do spend some time in the retail world and, being related to my sister and an avid TV viewer, I know what good brands are.  I know what brands fit my body well, and unfortunately it's not the cheap ones.  When I thrift for clothes, I check the size and brand, then assess whether the cost is worth that brand.  Let me get something straight-in the retail world, I don't care where my clothes come from, as long as they are cute, fit me well, and are inexpensive.  That being said, I don't think it's worth buying something from Walmart at a thrift store.  Retail isn't really that much more (or sometimes it's less).   I commonly look for Gap, Banana Republic, Anne Taylor, and J. Crew.

4.  Assess for quality.  Ask, "why is this here?  Is there something wrong with this?"  I would venture to say that at least half of the clothes in thrift stores are there because they were improperly cared for and washing incorrectly.  Ugh.  It breaks my heart.  I typically won't buy anything that is broken, unless I know I can fix it.  I also don't buy anything that is stained unless I know I can get it out.  You know those stains- the ones that really aren't stains, they're just a spill someone thought was a stain.  Shrunken, faded, or pilled clothes are no-nos.

5.  Assess for fit.  Try on the clothes at the store.  Don't turn up your nose at me, missy!  Suck it up and try the clothes on at the store and shower when you get home if you absolutely have to.  Don't get stuck assuming something will fit and get home only to find out it doesn't.  You will waste your money!  Sometimes I don't know something is wrong with a garment until I have it on anyway.  When thrifting, remember you are getting a serious deal.  Thrift fit is a little different than retail fit.  If I am paying retail for something, by golly, it better fit like a glove.  When thrifting, it's less of an exact science, but I can always alter it at home.  Nonetheless, do not buy clothes that don't fit just because they are cheap.  Again, waste of money.

6.  Profile neighborhoods.  This is going to make me sound like a snob, but look to shop at thrift stores in affluent neighborhoods.  Don't read too much into this, but it has been my experience that items at these stores are less worn, barely used, or not used at all and still have the tags on them.  Items in the opposite type of neighborhood are usually more worn and less current.

7.  Keep an open mind.  You don't have to keep the item the way you bought it.  I like to find pieces that are cute and interesting, then turn them in  to something else.  This skirt is a perfect example.  Loved the skirt, but it was 3 sizes to big, so I turned it into a dress.  A granny sweater can look current with leggings and a belt.
  8.  Shop the entire store.  I usually dedicate at least an hour to thrifting.  I like to look at everything.  You never know what you can find!  I always keep my eye out for little square baskets with liners to keep in the house, wall decor, board games, and baby items.  I found a brand new boppy pillow for $1.50 last summer!  Keep your loved ones in mind.  I'm a chronic gift giver, so I like to pick things up every once in a while to keep for those random little gifts.  Thankfully, my people like thifting too.

9.  Same rules apply for garage sales and Craigslist.  Check them often, especially in the season opposite of when you would use an item.  Two Februaries ago, I found an entire wrought iron patio set, rectangle table and four chairs, for $20.  It needed a little scrubbing and coat of paint, but it was a steal and I refinished it for $10.

so cute in your living room!"  Sometimes it take someone else to tell you to just clean something and it will look brand new.
    As always, set a budget.  Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's free.  You can still go into debt or go over budget buying thrift.
    Don't forget to give back and donate the things you don't use anymore to fuel the thrifting fire for others.

    Good luck and Thrift on!

    Skip To My Lou


    1. Great tips, Katie! We need to go thrifting together this summer. :)

    2. Just found your blog via Skip To My Lou, great advice! Love thrifting & Jesus too :)



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