You may or may not know at this point that I am a creature of the large, predominantly female species know as shoppers. I love the feeling of finding something that I've been coveting, or even something out of the blue that I immediately fall in love with! And while I could undoubtedly spend hours at the mall (and I usually do- our mall is huge.), I'm also a teenager with a fairly small budget. This, along with what I like to think of as a natural instinct for bargain hunting, forces me to get creative in my shopping process. One of my favorite ways to get more and better items for less is to frequent thrift stores. When a lot of people think of thrift shopping, they think of musty, dirty, outdated items from stores that aren't in much better condition. Although this is sometimes the case, it is not always true, and there are many fabulous items to be found! So, without further adieu, here are my top tips for thrifty shopping!
1. Find the right store for you
Chances are, there are several thrift stores in your area. Many hospitals have their own, some benefit specific charities, and some are free-standing. Check out all the ones you can find, because they are not all created equal. Some are cleaner than others, and some have more desirable items. The trick is to find the store that works best for what you're looking for. The ideal store is clean, well-stocked, and fairly up-to date. Location is also key. A store's inventory typically reflects the area that it is in and the population its items come from- i.e. stores that are in more affluent areas typically pull from a more upscale crowd and vice versa. However, you may not be able to settle on just one. For example, my mom and I like for furniture, one for jewelry, and one for clothing. This brings me to my next tip...
2. Don't just look for clothes
Most thrift stores don't limit themselves to clothes, and neither should you! There are all different types of unique jewelry, furniture, home decor items, accessories, etc. to be found, so keep an open mind when it comes to looking for less obvious items.
3. Be a discerning shopper
Once you've found something that strikes your fancy, make sure to give it a once over (or twice over) and inspect it for rips, tears, stains, cracks, etc. depending on what the item is. However, keep in mind that many small tears (especially those along seams and hemlines) can easily be mended, either by your or by a tailor. Also, don't rule out items if they are simply in need of minor alterations (darts, raising a hemline, etc), as the price of the item plus the cost of alterations will most likely still be fairly low.
4. Stick to brand names
This is not a "rule" per se, but more of a personal practice of mine when it comes to thrift shopping. Most thrift stores have a mix of brand-name and non brand-name clothing. However, the difference in price between the two is usually minimal, if anything. So doesn't it make the most sense to go for a higher end piece from a brand that you know and trust rather than something random? This rule especially applies to basics. Say I'm looking for a white polo, and I find one that is from Ralph Lauren, and one that is from a store like Target, WalMart, etc. Obviously (although I have NO problem shopping the latter), I'm going to pick the Ralph Lauren because: A. I'd be paying about the same amount either way, and B. The difference in price between the non brand-name piece at the thrift store and a brand new one from a store is probably not very large. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, such as finding an absolutely fab one of a kind piece.
5. Know what NOT to buy
There are some items that simply should not be purchased used/previously worn. These include bathing suits, undergarments, shoes, hats, and hair accessories.
6. Keep a positive attitude
It is important to realize that, even at your ideal thrift store, the stock is not always the same. Therefore, there might be trips (even several in a row) where you do not find anything you like. Don't give up though- it's always worth it when you find something fabulous!
7. Make regular trips
To make the most of thrift store shopping, it is beneficial to make regular trips to your store to go through the inventory. I typically go thrift shopping about once every month or two.
8. Keep a budget.
Although items at thrift stores can often be very inexpensive, it is useful to know ahead of time what the most you will pay for an item is. This will help you avoid overpriced impulse buys that may not end up being worth the money.
Now that I have hopefully shared some helpful hints about thrift shopping, here are some of my most fabulous recent thrift store finds.
(Just to give you an idea of price, the most I paid for any of these items was $30, but most were around $10 and under.)
As I mentioned earlier, thrift store shopping shouldn't just be limited to clothing. It's a great way to find authentic, vintage pieces when decorating your home.
I actually bought the furniture in my bedroom from a thrift store
The style of my bedroom would probably be best described as vintage-preppy-glam, and this ornate furniture from the 1960's works perfectly against my pink and green color palette!
I got all of the items in this set (plus another being stored because it doesn't fit in my room) for just about $1000- an absolute steal for furniture that is solid wood and authentic to its period!