Thrifting made easy

The world of thrifting can be overwhelming and intense. Between rows of porcelain knick-knacks, heaps of toys, and racks of clothes, how do you stay focused on your purpose and strike a good deal?

The world of thrifting can be overwhelming and intense. Between rows of porcelain knick-knacks, heaps of toys, and racks of clothes, how do you stay focused on your purpose and strike a good deal? Worthwhile thrifting is an art form that takes patience and practice to perfect. Even then, the best thrifters can still strike out. It’s important to know when to go, what to look for and when to leave.

The first thing to keep in mind is your time allowance. Don’t go if you don’t have time to spare. The best thrift stores can require a commute to get to them. Make sure you have a couple hours to burn, so you don’t feel rushed. It will make the experience much more pleasant if you give yourself time to really explore and look through all the merchandise.

Some thrift stores are much more organized than others. If you’re just starting out, go to one such as Better Bargains, Volunteers of America, or Value Village that organizes their inventory by size, style and even color. Their organization really makes shopping less intimidating. Once you are comfortable with this setup, move onto places like “The Bins,” which gets a little crazier and is completely unorganized. Stores like these can contain the best bargains, but you don’t want to overwhelm yourself on your first go.

Also, if you can avoid it, don’t go on the weekends. This is the time when stores are hit the hardest and picked over the most. If you must, then go right when they open. The new merchandise will be out and not picked over yet. Go on a weekday. Go in the morning when you’re still fresh, or whenever you have the most energy. Eat and go to the bathroom before you go. You don’t want to be thwarted by annoying personal needs.

Sometimes the dingiest places have the best bargains. Thrifting has become trendy these days, and some people don’t realize what it really involves. It’s not glamorous like the shiny stores in the mall. It’s an adventurous scavenger hunt. Just a heads up—you will most likely run into dirty and smelly things. That’s just part of the fun. You can bring gloves if it makes you feel better, especially at outlets where you have to dig through merchandise. Consider thrifting a hobby. It requires time, effort, and practice, but should be enjoyable.

Check the condition. Make sure all the buttons, bows, zippers, etc. are in place. Also check the armpits of the garment for stains or pilling. If the overall condition looks good, go for it. I would hesitate to buy something that needs work, unless you are an avid tailor/seamstress. Otherwise, it will probably just sit in your closet.

Don’t be afraid to strike out. You might not always find something you like, or it might not work out. That’s OK. There’s lots of turnover in thrift stores, so go back the next week or whenever you have time. Thrifting isn’t like normal shopping. The process of sifting through items is part of the experience. Also, don’t buy a consolation prize. It’s easy to get caught up in the cheap price tags and fall victim to something just because you haven’t found anything else. Don’t do it. Try imagining the item at the same price in Ross. Would you still buy it?

Know what you need and have a use in mind. Just because thrift stores are cheaper does not prevent you from getting carried away and going overboard. Create a set budget and stick to it. If you’re buying a non-clothing item, make sure you have a use for it, so that you don’t just add to your pile of “yard sale” material. When buying clothing, try it on! This may not be possible in some places, but trying something on will prevent you from regretting an unwise purchases later.

I would also suggest that you take a friend with you. Thrifting is a lot of fun when you have someone to share all the weird things you find with. Find a friend, bring some gloves and get your thrift on! You never know what may be hiding among the racks. ?