I began thrift shopping back in high school. It started in the backwoods of North Carolina when I was a teenager, there weren’t many fashionable people and I didn’t have a nearby city to travel to and find better deals. It was just me and Goodwill. Finding good deals and rare finds now are just as hard as seeing them when you live in the middle of nowhere with all the rebuyers out there taking a lot of the “good stuff” but remember good deals are always around if you just take the time to look. I wanted to talk to you all a bit about thrifting and share with you my tips on thrift shopping and how to find hidden treasures.
Is Thrift Shopping Good?
I’ve seen a few things about thrift shopping that it’s not as good as it seems when it comes to sustainability or the downside of thrifting and much like shopping for anything there’s good and bad. The cons for thrifting are often the same as for any retailer. The clothing may be dirty. I’ve worked in retail for 10 years both boutique selling and thrift stores and nothing is ever as clean as you think it is. There is no washing prior to you getting the clothing because it will damage the fabric and wash out the dye.
You run the risk of price hiking which can happen at consignment shops not so much thrift stores. Consignment shops sell secondhand items on behalf of the owner. Once an item sells the shop will give a percentage of the sale to the owner 1 . Thrift shops stock the shelves with donated secondhand items, so they’re no reason to jack up the price, and usually (at least at Goodwill) the prices are set by corp. so they don’t change unless it’s a designer item.
When you thrift shop you give clothing a new life and keep it from adding to the ever-increasing clothing waste that plagues the world.
It also limits fast fashion the less we buy it the less in demand it is. I know influencers get a lot of slack for doing thrifting hauls but honestly, there is no shortage of clothes being donated. When I worked at a thrift store, we shorted clothes in a large wear house that housed a forklift, compactor, and a clothing compress. We had a large pile of clothes that engulfed 90% of the warehouse and people donated hundreds of bags on top of that each day. No amount of influencers is taking clothes out of the people who need their hands.
There are plenty of clothes to go around. If anything it’s destigmatizing the notion of thrifting being bad. Everyone should thrift, just to thrift! It’s a great way to find things you need and the occasional treasure but it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
My Favorite Thrift Shopping Tips
First thing, find what stores are good in your area. A simple Google search will tell you what thrift shop is good in your area. No matter how big or small each city will have a unique selection of shops some of them local to just that city. Especially in some smaller cities they usually have some thrift shopping gems!
Have a plan. Go in with a general idea of what you need and want, for example, if you want to add more skirts or dresses to your wardrobe go for it! Thrift shopping is a great way to add additional pieces to your wardrobe for everyday wear and works for multiple wardrobes. Try not to make it too specific, remember this is a thrift store, not a regular store, they’re sectioned off by garment type, not brands.
Shop regularly and keep track of what the store specializes in. It’s ok not to buy every time but go and look and see if there is something new and what the store gets a lot of. Each thrift shop is different so keep tabs on what finds you see, even if you don’t buy. Regardless of what the other sites tell you, most stores don’t wait to restock, stuff is continuously being put out unless it’s out of season. There aren’t any days overall that are better to shop unless it’s specific to your store, if it’s a local thrift store and not a chain then it couldn’t hurt to ask. Keep an eye out for signs or any news or sales it’s rare but it does happen.
Set Aside Some time this won’t be a quick shopping trip, unless you don’t care what you get you’ll need to look through the racks and inspect items to ensure there are no rips and tears in the clothing, especially stains.
When buying furniture please inspect it well, a lot of people donate old furniture and it might not be well-kept. Flip couch covers and make sure there’s no slip on the couches that anything might have climbed into. When you buy the furniture take it immediately to the cleaner. You’ll have to secure transportation because the store does not provide it. Wooden furniture is a bit easier, just make sure there is no bug activity or anything weird. I usually strip mine, sand it down and stain it. It also helps to be a little handy. I speak more about that here.
Don’t skimp on the kitchen and glassware! One of my favorite glasses is from Goodwill! They have really unique pieces and they’re nonporous so you can just soak them in your desired solution and keep it moving. This also goes for silverware and plates. While the silverware will probably not match most times stores will only accept the full set and price them cheaply.
Always test electronics before you buy. This is for obvious reasons, and most stores do check before putting it out but it’s always good to double-check and make sure that it’s all good before you take it home. Most places have batteries or an outlet but if they don’t then carry some batteries with you of various sizes just in case.
If you’re buying games make sure all the pieces are there before game night! It might be tedious but it is WELL worth the headache.
Keep an eye on the price. One of the perks of thrift shopping is the deal! I will always say thrift before you buy but you don’t want to buy something used that is the same price as new. Try to find a deal but if it’s as good as new and the price is the same that’s fine, if it looks worn and the same price I say pass.
Lastly, Don’t forget to look online! ThredUp Poshmark and Vinted are all great sites to browse and find amazing deals when you can’t get to the store. You can also talk directly to the seller in some cases and ask questions about the garment. I love thrift shopping online in fact, most of my items are online bought and I haven’t had an issue since.