Life & Adulting · Style & Fashion

Beginners Guide to Thrifting Part 1

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So you want to start thrifting? Or maybe you’ve gone to Goodwill or your local thrift shop and completely struck out – you didn’t know what to do or where to look. Let me share with you my tips and tricks to thrifting.

Several years ago I made a life changing decision, I walked into my local Goodwill.  I was completely lost, I might as well have gone to a foreign country.  I had heard you could find great deals and save a lot of money thrifting, but I didn’t have a game plan.

Step 1 Research thrift shops and secondhand stores in your area.  Click here to find thrift stores in your area. Find out their hours and the days they are open.  I will admit I haven’t done this and showed up at 9am disappointed to learn the shop doesn’t open until 10am! Follow your local thrift stores on social media or subscribe to their newsletters. This is where you will learn about sales and get coupons.  Yes, even thrift stores have sales and coupons!

Step 2 Wear a thrift friendly outfit (if you are clothes shopping for yourself). I typically wear leggings or skinny jeans, a tank top with a cardigan or kimono, and shoes or sandals that are easy to get on and off.  This outfit allows me to easily try on most items without going into a dressing room.  Often the lines for the dressing rooms are crazy long and I want to make the most of my thrifting time.  I skip bulky accessories and wear a cross body purse so that both of my hands are free.

Step 3 Make a wish list of items you need or want.  I keep a list of items I’m on the lookout for, as well as the sizes of my family members in the notes of my phone.  For example I am currently looking for a black maxi skirt, size 7 jeans for my son, 18 months footed pajamas for my daughter, and USA themed items and books for my classroom (I teach US history).  This list serves as a reminder while I’m shopping, I get easily distracted!

Step 4 Bring your thrifting tools and supplies. Make sure your smartphone is charged.  I use my phone to compare prices and look up items while I am shopping.  I will google search or look up an item on eBay to see what it is going for and determine if I am getting a good deal.  Don’t assume that everything in a thrift store is a deal.  If I’m not sure about an item I will text a pic to the Mr. or a friend for their input.  I also bring a small tape measure.  I know my measurements and will often measure the waist, inseam, or underarm to underarm of an article of clothing for two reasons.  First, I now know my measurements and second, many items are missing tags or have been donated because the item was tagged the wrong size. Obviously the tape measure comes in handy when looking at furniture and large mirrors and pictures.  My final item is hand sanitizer.  I am not a germaphobe, but you never know how clean or dirty the items are in a thrift store.

Step 5 Go to the thrift store! When you arrive grab a shopping cart and ask an employee if they are having any sales.  Often there are unadvertised deals or sales, it never hurts to ask.  My time is often limited, so I will pick a couple of departments to shop.  Most stores organize their clothing by size and style, some even by color.  If you see something you like, put it in your cart.  I cannot tell you how many times I passed on an item, went back for it and it was gone.  Try on EVERYTHING!  Most thrift stores have an all sales final policy.

Stay tuned, I will be following up with Part 2 – How to Determine What to Buy.  I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment or send me your thrifting questions.

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