Six Thrift Tips for the Fearful Beginners

November 6, 2016

I can recall those early Saturday mornings my mom would take my sister and I thrifting with her to search for what she liked to call “hidden treasures”. I used to search the racks for hand-me-down graphic tees and American Eagle skinny jeans. Now my thrift store searches have evolved just like the activity itself. Recently, thrift store shopping has become a favorable creative outlet for many people of all ages who are looking for a bargain. Finding vintage, secondhand pieces can be a fun and cheap way to spice up your closet, living room, bathroom…the list goes on! Despite the popularity of thrifting, we all know someone who doesn’t have a single clue where to start once their foot is inside of a Goodwill. Luckily, I consider myself to be a master thrifter. So, with that being said, here are of few of my own personal tips to make every thrift store experience successful

1. Go in with an open mind.

If you’re dreading the thought of searching through hundreds of pieces to find something worthwhile before you’ve even entered the thrift store, chances are you won’t find anything. Thrift store shopping can be exhausting for first-timers, so keeping an open mind about thrift store finds can help spark your inner creativity and inspire some potential DIY projects.

2. Patience is key.

As mentioned before, digging through a ton of apparel can be annoying depending on your mood. This is why thrifting takes a lot of patience! You may find something you like, but it isn’t your size or you’re tired of that old clothes smell. I get it. But, patience is truly a virtue when it comes to thrifting. Give yourself an hour and a half to search the racks and don’t worry if you don’t find something worth buying. (Hint: An hour before closing is usually the best time to go thrifting, way less people.)

3. Let your eyes lead the way.

If you’re looking for a color, pattern, or texture, gaze around the store and let your eyes guide you. Most thrift stores, like Salvation Army and Goodwill, color coordinate their clothes. Also, they organize the racks by clothing styles like pants, jeans, blouses, tops, etc. You may even luck up on vintage designer apparel, like Tommy Hilfiger. Having an idea about what you’re looking for can be very helpful, or you can challenge yourself to find something without an end in mind. Making it fun is the key!

4. Bring a friend.

Sometimes we think something is a good idea, but a second opinion is needed to help us think critically about a potential fashion faux pas. Or, maybe we need another thumbs up. Either way, it’s helpful to have a good friend to tag along with you to the thrift store (because good friends are honest *wink*). Try to find a friend who has no shame in their thrift game. Their expertise will be greatly beneficial!

5. Try it on!

This one is a no brainer, but try on your items before purchasing them. I learned the hard way that looks can be deceiving when thrift shopping. Also, most thrift stores have a “no-refund” policy, so make sure you utilize the dressing rooms before committing to a purchase.

6. Know what works for you.

Maybe traditional thrift stores just aren’t your thing and you have to start somewhere a little more familiar. Try some place trendier like  Plato’s Closet or Uptown Cheapskate. You can still find cheap, hand-me-downs and most clothing items are from department stores like Forever21 and H&M. Then once you feel a little more comfortable with thrifting, you can give other thrift stores a shot!


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***Beware of shopping for shoes at thrift stores! Clean them thoroughly for your own safety!***

By Jeri Craddock

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