go home. about me.      

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Art of Thrifting - Tips

Thrifting is one of my favorite hobbies. Right now, i average in at about five stores a week. After countless stops into stores to browse and relax after a long day of work and almost every weekend dedicated to scouting out the best shops in the state, i've pretty much got the process down pat. So often, people are shocked and ask why they never find great things like i do - especially since many of them shop at the same stores as me. Here are some things i've learned along the way - some things i wish i had figured out long before i did.

  • Shop often. You can't pop into your local Goodwill once a month and expect to hit a goldmine of vintage dresses and Pyrex lined shelves! Of course, luck could strike, but the majority of thrifters find their treasures with time. Many trips will end with empty hands. Make a weekend of it, stop in after work, go as often as you can manage!
  • Really look. Crouch down and peek at those bottom shelves, sort through stacks of ugly dishes, open up cardboard boxes tucked on the top shelf. Extra tip - browse through the "No Thanks" rack by the dressing rooms. Employees havn't sorted those back to their original spots yet and someone could have tried on and then passed on something great.

  • Don't discriminate. Size is nothing but a number. Look in every section, or at least the size up or down from yours as well as your own. Shoppers constantly pull things out, show their friends, and then stick it back on the closest rack so you may find things in your size in other parts of the store. Another reason to check those other sections - vintage! Vintage sizes are so different from modern. Last weekend i found a gorgeous 1970's sundress in with the larges because it was labeled a 10. I usually fit into a size 2-4 and the dress fits me like a glove!
  • Be aware of sales. Thrift shops will often have sales to get merchandise moving. My local Goodwill stores have a barb tag of the week. All barbs matching that weeks color are half off. When shopping in the top section of Goodwill, i exclusively look for that weeks color barb. Who wants to pay $4.99 for such a tiny piece of fabric? $2.50, on the other hand, is reasonable. Goodwill also offers discount cards for $10 a year. You get 10% off every purchase. For me, my card payed for itself in one weekend. My local Salvation Army has days where certain store sections are a percentage off - keep an eye out! 

  • Dress like a pro. Many thrift stores do not offer dressing rooms to try things on. Even worse, most do not offer a return policy. If they do have dressing rooms, you deal with lines. If you're like me, you will fill your cart to the brim - and who really wants to try on 20 tops inside a cramped dressing room with bad lighting? Dress so that you can easily test things out right on the floor. Leggings, button up sweaters, and slip on shoes are all excellent for a quick try on!
  • Don't go in with a list. Of course, everyone has their dream thrift finds. (A cardboard box full of 60's crystal glasses in perfect condition, a designer dress in your size, a vintage couch in that exact shade of aqua!) Thrifting is like treasure hunting, you don't know what you will find. Check every section of the store. This afternoon, i found 7 vintage aprons stuffed into a basket in the lingerie section. Scope out the jewelry counter, the kids section, books, furniture, etc. Keep an open mind!

  • Don't go price crazy. Just because those jeans are only $4.99, does not mean you need twelve pairs. If you do it right and shop often, the perfect pair will come your way. Don't lose all your cash just because things are inexpensive. 
  • Look for quality. Yes, that designer dress is gorgeous. But, it's stained, torn, and three sizes too big. You do not have to buy it just because you found Coach or Michael Kors at a thrift shop. It's cool, but you will never get use out of it. Snap a photo on your phone for bragging rights and move on. On the other hand, don't be afraid to ask for a discount if you see a stain or tear that you think you can fix. I once found a gold Betsey Johnson dress with a ripped seam and when i asked if i could have it for less, the woman gave it to me! 

  • When in doubt, alter. Not every piece is going to fit like it was tailored to your body. If you are in love with the print on a dress but it's too long for your tastes, consider having it altered! This is especially true when shopping for vintage. Clothing styles have changed over the years and dresses down to your shins are not always flattering. A simple alter and you could have the perfect mini dress! 

Has anyone found any good tricks while thrifting? Share away so i can add to own!


    1. Hello Brittany,
      Such a lovely first post with really useful tips. I love that one: don't go crazy. Haha, I go crazy about things sometimes and later ask myself what I'm gonna do with that bunch of completely useless stuff. :)

      1. Hi there! That was/is the hardest one for me!

    2. 5 times a week! I wish I was able to thrift that often! I used to go 2 - 3 times a week, but I've taken a brief hiatus in thrifting (besides last Saturday when I scored big!). These are some great tips! I am totally the girl that wears leggings and a tank and tries things on in the middle of the store! Good to hear I'm not alone! :)

      xx Adrian

      1. I'm very lucky to have a few decent stores close to my work so i can stop in before they close at night! And no, you are most definitely not alone! I'm that "weird" girl shimmying skirts up over my leggings under my sweater to see if they fit!

    3. great tips! I shop at thrift stores all the time and alter shirts all the time.All you need is a good tailor :)