Moschino, Versace, Maxmara, Diane Von Furstenberg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Prada, Hermes…what do all these designers have in common? They’ve all lived in my closet. And, they came from the thrift store. Yea that’s right, the thrift store. 90% of my closet is filled with designer labels, and about 70% of that came from thrifting. So get over your pre-conceived ideas. I’m going to teach you how to find the good stuff.
After over a dozen years of hard-core thrift store hopping, I’ve seen it all, and learned the ins and outs. So what’s so great about thrifting? Well, besides paying pennies on the dollar for really great stuff, it’s green, the ultimate in recycling. You’re saving items from the landfill, and usually the proceeds are going to charity. You’ve gotta feel good about that, but mostly, it’s fun. There’s nothing like the rush of finding something amazing, something you really love, for just a few dollars. I call it my weekly treasure hunt. What are some of my best finds? A gorgeous pair of Guiseppe Zanotti heels for $8.99; Prada boots for $12.99; a brand new Versace shirt for $3.99, and that’s just a tiny sampling. My top two finds so far have to be a beautiful new-condition full length custom-made ranch mink coat (I would only ever buy second-hand fur) for $29.95 and 2, yes TWO, Hermes’ scarves in perfect condition for a total of $43.99. (they were not quite my style so I sold them on Ebay for over $700, which covered most of my thrift shopping for the year, but more on that in future posts) You won’t find something good on every visit, but the times you do find a treasure make it all worth it.
Here are 9 Thrift Store Shopping Basics to get you started…
1.If at all possible, go during the week. My favorite days to go are Tues-Thurs. Most people go on the weekends, and it can get mighty crowded. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have to elbow my way to the skirt rack.
2. Be consistent. Most stores get in new merchandise daily, so there is a high turnover. Try to visit your favorite store once a week. And, it will help you get to know the store and the employees, which will end up saving you time in the long-run. (more on this next time)
3.Wear comfy shoes. You’ll be roaming the racks for an hour or two, so be good to your feet. (I admit to breaking this rule, I love my heels, but I usually regret it)
4.Wear clothing that’s easy to get on and off so trying on clothes is as painless as possible. (and um, be sure and wear underwear)
5.Bring socks, both athletic and every-day, so you’ll be able to try on any type of shoes.
6.Bring a friend who will be honest about how the clothes look on you whenever possible. This can be a life-saver, or at least, a clothes-saver…
7.Grab a cart. You may not think you need one, but trust me, grab it. It frees your hands for flipping through the racks instead of holding stuff. Toss whatever you find interesting in the cart. Don’t take the time to check it over just yet, you’ll do that before you check out. I know I’ve missed out on some great stuff by thinking “I can come back for that”, only to find it gone. If you like it, throw it in the cart.
8.The Most Important Thrifting Tip: Check out the new stuff first! The bigger chain thrift stores like Goodwill, ARC and Salvation Army are putting out new stock constantly throughout the day. If you see bins and rolling racks, (ie: stuff on it’s way out to the floor) dive in! I find most of the good stuff before it ever actually gets hung on the rack. I am not shy. I will follow the employees pushing carts out of the back room so I can get first dibs on the new goodies, which brings me to #9…
9.Always be nice. I often see people being rude to the employees. These folks work hard and put up with a lot, so be kind to them, and your fellow treasure hunters.
In “Thrifting It”, Part 2, I’ll show you all the extra “hidden” discounts you probably don’t know about. We’ll also talk about what to do with that cart full of stuff before you check out, the ins and outs of some of the various thrift store chains, and much more.
Have any comments or questions? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments box below.
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