My friend Erica is a master of thrifting, so when I finally got the chance for her to share her wisdom on one of my favorite topics, I jumped at the chance. Erica blogs over at The Truth Tea, so go show her some lovvvveee!
I’ve been thrifting since I was a pre-teen, when my friends and I would scour the aisles of places like Goodwill and Salvation Army and try on anything from 80s prom dresses, band t-shirts and then actual pieces of clothing we’d want to bring home.
A lot of people I know say they feel overwhelmed in thrift stores and that it’s simply “not worth it” to go in and peruse the racks to find a hidden gem. As someone who shops primarily at these stores, allow me to lend you some tricks and tips to make your next thrift shopping experience fun and exciting. After all — you’ll never know what you’ll find at one, and that’s the best part!
1. Give yourself time. Know that this usually won’t be an in-and-out situation. This is where you can feel overwhelmed if you don’t know this ahead of time. There’s a ton of racks filled with an array of colors and knits that will require attention from you. But that’s okay! Take a deep breath and give yourself the afternoon (or early morning) for it. Some stores have everything organized by size which can cut the time in half.
2. Check every section. I have found blazers, jean jackets and great high-waisted jean shorts in the men’s section, and cute gym and pajama shirts in the children’s section. And if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a woman in her mid-20’s. Definitely not expected in these sections, but I make stopping by there a staple in my thrifting plans. You never know what or where you’ll find, and a lot of what you find that could be too big or small for you can be taken in, which opens up even more variety in thrift stores. Speaking of adjusting pieces you’ve bought…
3. Remember the tailor. Don’t shy away from pants too long, shirts too baggy or dresses just a wee bit smaller than you’re liking. Most tailors don’t charge more than $20 for hems and take-ins.
4. Visit more than one store. No two thrift stores are the same. I find a lot at Family Value and Salvation Army, but not so much at Goodwill (normally). Your haul will be more fruitful if you treat yourself to more than one store in your shopping day. Most places even have a few within 10-15 miles, too!
5. Try urban thrift shops for trendy pieces, and suburban thrift shops for more selection and cheaper prices. This goes hand in hand with the tip above. You’re more likely to find discount designer pieces and other ‘trendy’ shops like H&M in the thrift stores that are found in big cities. Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet and Crossroads Trading are great examples of stores like this. My favorite stores are definitely the hidden gems in rural areas, though. These places are often less expensive and way less picked over. BUT, they usually lack the designer duds. Still if you’re like me who likes the challenge of dressing up basic pieces, you’ll have luck.
6. Figure out what you need. Sometimes if you go with a goal in mind (“I need a jacket”, “I need black pants”) you can bypass the overwhelming feeling and go for the gold. My favorite thing about thrifting though is that sometimes the things you find, you never know you needed until it was found.