Ever have a really frustrating thrift shop experience? I sure have. Thrift shopping can be hit or miss, and sometimes it seems like a real waste of time. Other times, you can feel like you scored some great finds, only to take them home and realize you wasted your money on some real duds!
Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty efficient system for thrifting. I’ve improved my chances of finding things I love, and learned how to cut down on wasted time and wasted money. Following are some general guidelines for thrifting. On my next thrifting post, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of the process.
So, without further ado, here are four things to consider before you even set foot in a thrift store…
1. Read online reviews – find out what different stores carry. This is a time-saver. Does the store carry the type of clothing you’re looking for? In your size? Is it the style you’re looking for? There’s no sense going to a thrift store full of 40s and 50s clothes if you’re looking for 70s bell bottoms.
2. Gather as much detail as you can about the store’s policies. What are the hours and special sales days? What is the price range, the cash/credit policy, store location? Are there dressing rooms?
This is a practical issue. Showing up at a thrift store an hour or less before closing can be frustrating in the extreme. Especially if it’s not close to your home or if you find a lot of great items. Ditto, showing up with no cash at a cash-only store.
No dressing room? You’d better know that for sure! One of my favorite stores in town has none. You wear exercise clothes or a bathing suit under your street threads so you can strip down and try on garments in the aisles. I forgot the last time I went (and this store is far away from home), so I ended up flashing everyone my granny panties (thank God I wasn’t wearing a thong!)
3. Give yourself lots of time. This is where knowing the hours comes in. Also, eat before you shop. There’s nothing worse than getting half way through your special finds only to realize you’ve got a hunger headache coming on. Stashing a granola bar in your purse can really help too.
4. Go with an idea of what you want to buy. It might be as broad as “some new tops,” or “dresses for work,” or as specific as “a white button down blouse,” or, “a navy blue cashmere sweater.” Also, have a rough budget in mind. This is thrift shopping. You may go slightly over budget and it may be worth it. Still, it’s good to have a baseline. That will help you make choices at the register.
In Thrift Shop Tips – Part II I’ll talk about ways to improve the sorting process to help you make the best choices.