For as long as I can remember my Mom made my brother and me go with her to thrift stores. We’re talking about WAY before it was trendy. As a kid I thought it was the most boring place on earth. Why would anyone want to dig through someone else’s old stuff? Then as a teenager I was mortified to go in. What if someone I knew spotted me in the dreadful place? It would ruin my reputation forever. Now as an adult, I absolutely love it. It’s my favorite place to shop! I enjoy it because it’s always a challenge… and a little bit like a treasure hunt.
It can be a little intimidating the first time you shop in a thrift store. It doesn’t look or smell like a typical retail store. So, if you’ve ever tried to go in but left after the first whiff of “The Smell” (yes, they all have it) here are a few helpful hints for you. And if you dig through the old discarded junk long enough you’ll find treasures too!
1. Know what you’re looking for. Make a list before you go. Once you get into the store it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff and the complete disorganization. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a cute shirt only to come home and find out I already have the exact same one. I probably wasn’t even looking for shirts, but I walked by it, liked it and had to have it. I needed a list to keep me on track! It’s easy to spend hours in a thrift store, because there’s so much to look at, but if you stick to your list you won’t get so distracted. PS-If you have ADHD you might not want to go in at all. 🙂
2. Know what you’re willing to pay for items. Take into account the cost of cleaning and tailoring clothes. If something is one of a kind I’ll usually pay a little more for it. Like the “Think Thin” sign below. Somebody’s Grandma spent a lot of time on it, and it’s the only one I’ve ever seen!
3. Don’t buy anything you don’t love. If you wouldn’t buy it brand new in a “normal” retail store, don’t buy it at the thrift store. I’ve made this mistake a lot. It’s so easy to get excited about a brand new Ann Taylor dress for $4.00, even though I don’t shop at Ann Taylor. I would never end up wearing the dress, because it’s not my style. Try to think through your purchases before you make them. Do you really need another Lynyrd Skynrd t-shirt? Or another white vase just because you saw it at Anthropologie and know what it originally cost? Yes, I recently asked myself both of those questions! The answers were Yes and No. Don’t bring home something you won’t wear or don’t have a special place to display. All our closets and cabinets are a little too full to begin with, right?! And you could use the $4.00 you almost spent on the dress for a frozen yogurt. 🙂
4. Go a lot. That’s the best way to learn what stores carry what items. I go to some for the clothes, others for the for furniture and home goodies. This saves a lot of time when I’m looking for something specific.
5. Try on clothes. Vintage sizes are different, so you can’t always go by what the tag says. Some thrift store don’t have dressing rooms, but I’ve tried things on over my clothes right there in the store many times. Who cares? It’s the thrift store for goodness sake, and most of the people in there are a little nuts anyway!
See a few clothing pieces I’ve found at thrift stores here, here and here.