Thrifting It, A Thrift Store Shopper’s Starter Kit, How to find the Good stuff, Part 2
In Part 1, we started out with 9 Thrift Store Shopping Tips (read Part 1 HERE) Today we’ll cover: How to get the “hidden” discounts you probably don’t know about, How being nice can pay big dividends, the in’s and outs of some of the bigger thrift chains, and more. Here are the next 5 tips:
Part 2 (#1-9 in PART 1)
#10. Before you go, Make a list. (Yes, I know. This tip should have been in Part 1… ) I keep a little notebook in my purse of all the things I’m looking for. Believe me, you’ll forget. For example if I’m in my closet and see my favorite black t-shirt has a hole in it, I toss it and I write “black t-shirt” in my little book. Looking for a new dresser? Table? Lamp? Write it in the book, with the dimensions of where it goes. It’s heartbreaking when you find a great piece and bring it home only to discover it’s too big. Review your list of needs before you walk in the store. What’s on my list right now? 2 84″ curtain rods , a 10″ black or gray lampshade, long sleeve black T-shirt (I wasn’t kidding about that one), comfy black flats, and 2 nightstands.
#11. Navigating the store: How to save time. Every store is a little bit different. Some are well organized, and some are, well, a cluster-you-know-what. The organized ones are obviously easier to get through, but the sheer volume of stuff can be daunting. Have a plan. If you want to look at everything, pick one area to start in, roll through that area, then on to the next. I’ll usually start in one corner and work methodically, scanning down each aisle in order from front to back or side to side. Scanning the shelves with your eyes is the key. If you try to look at each individual item you’ll be there for days. For clothing, know your size, but be prepared to look further. Most stores are pretty good about organizing sizes, but I find mixed up sizes all the time. The biggest time saver in scanning the racks is knowing your colors. All of us have our signature colors we look great in, and colors that just look plain crappy on us. I know it’s considered an “old-fashioned” term, but I know I am a true “winter”. I only look good in deep jewel tones, black, white and true reds. Put ivory or yellow on me and I look kind of, um, deathly. There are many tools on line that can help you find what colors look best on you if you don’t already know what “season” you are. Then when you do know, just scan the racks for your colors. Major time-savor! Want to find out what your colors are? A professional color analysis is best, but this link is a good place to start: http://www.colormebeautiful.com/seasons/index.html And finally, if you’re like me, you’re looking for the good stuff. Go straight to the label. My method is, scan the rack starting at one end, when I see my color, I look at the label. If it’s a “good” label, spend a minute on further examination. If I like it, it goes in the cart. And then…
#12. OK, you’ve got a cart full of stuff. Now what? In Part 1 we told you to get a cart, and throw anything you’re interested in said cart. Now you’re done shopping and ready to check out. It’s time to look over your stuff. Find a quiet corner or table and go over every item in your cart carefully. Check hard goods for chips, scratches, dents and breaks. Go over every inch of your clothing items looking for stains, rips, and faded spots. Check any elastic for good stretch. Check all zippers, buttons and clasps to be sure they function properly. And lastly, be sure you really want it and can use it. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you need it. Don’t buy anything just because it’s a good deal (unless of course you can resell it, and we’ll talk about that in a future blog post. Be sure and subscribe to this blog!)
#13. Be nice. As we said in part 1, always be nice. While nice is in itself just a great way to be, it can pay off in a material sense, too. People really appreciate it when you’re nice and personable, and often respond in-kind. Some employees may tell you when the next big sale is, let you know when the next batch of new stuff is coming out on the floor, and, especially in the smaller, independent stores, they may even let you know when something you’ve been looking for comes in (the larger store just have too high of a turnover to be able to do this.) I’m on a first-name basis with most of the employees at my favorite thrift store. If nothing else, it just makes the experience more pleasant, and makes everyone’s day a little brighter.
#14. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; My impressions of the different thrift store chains. Here in Colorado, the big thrift store chains are Goodwill, ARC and Savers. (there are many smaller and independent thrift stores in Denver, many of which I’ll be covering in future blog posts) GOODWILL is the best, hands down. Here’s why: they’ve undergone a big re-do in resent years, and are endeavoring to run like a proper retail store. They have cleaner stores, better organization, nicer and more knowledgeable staff, & helpful floor managers. Unlike other chains, they take returns, not just exchanges. You can return anything you purchase at a Goodwill within ten days as long as you have the receipt and the original tag is still attached. (Everyone makes mistakes: I bought a pair of “Dior” shoes last week only to discover upon closer inspection at home that they were fakes. I’ll be returning them for a full refund on Monday.) This just makes life so much easier. (And, Goodwill now has a great discount program, which I’ll tell you about in #15.) They also have great hours and are open 7 days a week. ARC. The ARC is hit and miss, and usually more “miss” in my experience. Generally the stores are very overcrowded with merchandise, only half-heartedly organized, and for the most part I’m sorry to say, an uncaring staff. They will only exchange for store credit within 10 days (with receipt and tags attached). That being said, I still go, but not as often as to Goodwill. I just check my purchases over very very carefully. They do have good hours and are open 7 days a week. Because of the lack of organization and overcrowding, be prepared to spend more time hunting here. SAVERS. Savers is hit and miss as well (though my man says they are better for men’s wear) but at least they are well organized. The staff is pretty hit and miss, too, sometimes very helpful and sometimes uncaring. They will only exchange within 7 days (with receipt and tags) BUT you have to take your exchange The day you bring it back. They should really change this policy, as it is a deterrent to shopping there. That being said, of course I’ll still go, shopping even more carefully.
#15. Where are those “hidden” discounts? Here again, Goodwill takes the thrifty cake. They recently started a Goodwill Club Card which gives you 20% any and all purchases over $25, AND they give you a $10 gift card when you have accumulated over $200 in spending over time. You just have to sign up for the card. You can sign up online at http://www.goodwill.com or at the register of any Goodwill store. Also, they have a 55 and over Senior discount of 25% off any purchase on Mondays, (Come on Mom, it’s time to go shopping!) and about one Saturday a month is 50% day. (more on half-off days below) Check out Goodwill’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GoodwillDenver?ref=ts&fref=ts on Mondays, as they usually post a 25% off coupon that can be used that week. ARC also offers a Senior discount (55 and over), and has 50% off Saturdays, however “current” color tags are NOT included in the sale, which means all the new stuff that came in that week will not be on sale, unlike Goodwill where everything but “blue” tags is 50% off on their Saturday sales (blue tags are usually new, special high-end, vintage or collectable items) A word about 50% off days. They are pure unadulterated bedlam. Be prepared for an anxious crowd, grab your cart and watch it, (I’ve had items pilfered out of my cart before) Get there when they open (usually 8am, check the websites) for the best shot at the good stuff. It’s a challenging adventure, but it can be very rewarding.
I hope these tips get you fired up to go out and hunt for some treasures. I’ll continue talking about thirifting in the future, including new tips, local thrift store reviews, and showing off my “Finds of the Week”. Subscribe using the link to the right, and you won’t miss a thing.
What are your best Thrift Store Finds? I want to know! Post them in the comments section below. Happy Thrifting!
By the way, I do not receive any sort of compensation for any products, stores or websites mentioned in these blogs. My recommendations are all based purely on my personal experience.