For those of you who are not yet thrifters, and those who already enjoy the treasure hunt, here are 7 tips for making a thrift store trip easy and enjoyable so you can get lucky finds.
1. Find out the “best” thrift store in your area: If you live in a city that has many thrift stores to choose from, you can google “best thrift store in __________” and many times you will find helpful reviews. If you are unable to find out information ahead of time, you have the opportunity to be the first reviewer-hooray!
2. Go once…then go again…Repeat: A thrift store’s inventory is constantly changing. I have tried shopping at my local Goodwill on every day of the week to see if there is a day that “stands” out to be better than others. I’ve found no matter which day it is, I am always finding things worth taking home. (Although, I enjoy shopping on Wed. or Fri. nights the most-they seem to be the least busy). I go often…and by often I mean, the employees give me the “Hey, that girl is back again..didn’t I just see you yesterday” look. Now, no I don’t go everyday, but checking out your store frequently means you will have more opportunities to find items that are recently put out. I asked a staff member if there are certain days that are better for “restocking” the store. She said with the high amount of donations and purchases, new merchandise is always being stocked. Now, this might not be true at all thrift stores, so you can always ask a staff member.
2. Get to know “Color Codes/Weekly Deals”: Every thrift store I’ve shopped in has had some sort of deal occurring. Goodwills and Arc Stores are known for having a color system. There are advertised tag colors which get an additional percentage off for the week. There also might be unadvertised deals. The goodwill I go often has an undisclosed 75% off color each week. I have to ask an associate what the color is and I usually share it with other shoppers who might not know-this makes for a good conversation piece if you feeling like chatting. You can also Join e-mail lists: I signed up for Goodwill of Denver’s email list and found out their stores have 50% off the whole store sales twice a month. Each Goodwill division is unaffiliated with another and have their own sales, color codes and events.
3. Don’t be fooled: By size that is! You could end up being three to four different sizes. With the wide variety of brands and shrunken items, you don’t have to stick to your ‘normal’ size when thrift shopping. Try it on. You might be lucky and have a store that is sorted by size which makes things easier…my favorite store is not. You can also check the men and children areas-thrifters can be sneaky and hide items.
4. Check Fitting Room Return Racks: I have found many items on the fitting room rack. This is a great place to check because someone has already picked out something that they thought was wearable. Many times there will be multiple items in your size range if they put back a stack of clothes. I once walked into a fitting room and bought 4 items left from the person before-she must have known I was coming in after her. *Get to know your store’s return policy. If you don’t have time to try on items, make sure you can bring the items back and whether you will get a refund or store credit.
5. Brand/Fabric Scan: When I navigate clothing racks, I always feel the fabric, hold it up in good lighting and check over all areas for stains, tears, or loss of buttons. Be sure to check the armpits, especially of lighter colored clothing. Many clothes can be wrinkled, which can make them less appealing. Use your imagination to see how it would look washed and ironed. I also check the brand. I can usually tell by the fabric type or tag if the clothing was a “higher end” purchase at one time. I have a wide knowledge of brand names, but I also have googled many… even in the store.
6. Find a good tailor: Some people may think it’s silly to bring thrifted items to a tailor for alterations. I think it’s a great deal if you have something that you will wear often. I brought in a pair of White House Black Market jeans-(they were practically brand new). The total cost including purchase and hemming was 11.00. I have brought many items to my favorite tailor and I always tell her about my awesome deals. She is now a thrifter! If you are handy with a needle and thread you can also make your own alterations on straps and buttons-I do this too!
7. Bring a friend! You’ll have another set of eyes, lots of laughs and an honest opinion!
I’d love to hear your thrifting tips!
Collage images from: lookingflyonadime.com, www.debutanteclothing.com