I’ve written a little bit about thrifting before but I recently needed to break out my skillz (yes, skillz with a “z”) again and I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips.
I’ve been trying to spend as little money as possible, but I still need to look presentable at work. It’s a Catch 22. On Friday when I tried on my last pair of clean pants and had to check the mirror (twice) to prove that yes, my pants had worn so thin that you could see my underwear right through them, I knew that it was time for some new clothes. So right after work I popped over to my local thrift store and scored some serious deals! I have so many people tell me, I never find good stuff at thrift stores, you must be lucky! Well, I’m not, friends. I strategize to find the best stuff at thrift shops. Here’s how I do it.
Did you know Yelp is more than just restaurant reviews? It’s true! Yelp is one of my favorite places to go for reviews of any kind. Before popping to every thrift store within a 20 mile radius, I’ll pop over to Yelp and see what the good Yelpers have to say about it. Sometimes they’ll even share information about discounts! If you can’t find anything on Yelp, Google Reviews might be helpful too.
2. Find out which days the store restocks
Thrift stores restock on different days, just ask an employee which day they restock and shop that day for the best stuff. Usually stores don’t restock on the weekends, so stuff will be more picked over then. I almost always thrift during the week. There’s less crowds and higher quality stuff!
3. Leave yourself enough time to look through everything
Often times thrift stores are stocked to the brim with merchandise. This can be overwhelming. I know. Don’t shop on a strict time limit, you’ll get frustrated. Leave yourself enough time to look through everything you need.
4. Still overwhelmed? Keep a list!
One of my favorite things to do is keep lists. One of my many lists is a running list of things I want or need. Going into a thrift store without a solid idea of what you want can lead to unnecessary purchases and buyer’s remorse. I can easily get overwhelmed in a junk shop, so I keep a list of things I’m looking for in Evernote, that way I can easily refer back to it.
5. Looking for clothing? Try on different sizes
Grab a cart and pull all clothing that you like within 2 sizes up or 2 sizes down from what you normally wear. Clothing at thrift stores is all different brands, therefore different brands have different sizing. I usually wear a 4 or a 6, but I tried on clothing from a size 2 to a size 8. And guess what? The sizes I ended up buying were all over the map. (And if this is discouraging, remember, your worth is not measured by your dress or pants size, my friends!)
6. Not creative? Shop with a creative friend.
Creativity can help when shopping at thrift stores. Creativity helps you to see that ugly, dull dresser repainted a crisp, bright white. If you aren’t a visionary, bring an honest and visionary friend with you to shop. I love shopping at antique malls and thrift stores with George because he can see through the dirt. He knows if something is fixable or just plain junk. I also really admire the thrifting skills of my friend, Candra. She is a total fashonista and has the keen ability to find key wardrobe pieces in piles of junk.
7. Don’t be a brand loyal
There are some amazing finds out there for the taking. In my most recent thrifting excursion I found a pair of pair of “7 for all mankind jeans.” Those jeans are super pricey! Unfortunately they didn’t fit me properly, but I did manage to score pants from Ann Taylor, Levi’s, New York and Co. and some little known brands I’ve never heard of. Don’t be loyal to one brand, focus on the style and the fit of the item and you’ll have better luck.
8. Ask yourself this question: is the piece easily fixable?
Thrift stores will often have pieces that need a little work. There’s a missing button or the drawer pulls are loose. But the piece may have some big problems too. I have a terrible habit of biting off more than I can chew and I’ve done this with far too many thrifted things. I now like to ask myself if I could fix it in a weekend. If I can’t, I don’t buy it. If I can, I make an attainable (S.M.A.R.T.) plan for fixing it.
9. Outsource the “fixing!“
If the piece just needs to be tailored slightly, I’ll usually buy it. 9 times out of 10 a thrifted blouse that you take to the tailor will be cheaper and will fit you better than buying a new blouse at the local mall. It’s more environmentally friendly too!
I saved even more money at the thrift store with discounts! 7 pairs of pants for $20.72!
10. Ask for discounts
Many thrift stores will offer discounts on either certain days of the week or offer discounts for educators, the military or students. Ask about those discounts! I know the clothes may only be $3, but another $1 off doesn’t hurt!
11. Shop often
I’m not condoning unnecessary spending, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t find something on your first thrifting excursion. It might take time to score the perfect pair of thrift store jeans. Relax and have a good time! The thrill of the hunt makes scoring a deal much more enjoyable!
Do you have any tips for thrift store shopping? Let me know about them in the comments!