As a broke college student, I had to learn how to prioritize my money. Who knew choosing between drinks at the bar on a Friday night and your next meal could be so hard? Money gets tight. Real tight. But you find ways to finesse. Coupons. Student discounts. Finding the cheapest alternative for anything and everything.
It was here that I decided to explore the world of thrifting. If, for whatever reason you don’t know what thrifting is, it refers to the act of shopping from store to store in search of discounted fashion items, usually previously owned or vintage. I know from talking with other people, there is some stigma towards thrift shopping. All thrift stores may be considered cluttered, dirty, or lacking in quality clothing. From my own experience, none of that is true.
Let’s debunk these misconceptions real quick:
First, every thrift shop has its own way of organizing, but a lot of them arrange their merchandise like any typical clothing store, by size, color, style, and/or gender.
Second, thrift shops are generally clean. Okay sure, it might be a little dusty and probably smells like it too, but remember where you’re at. It doesn’t mean it’s dirty. It’s just that thrift shops hold a lot of different smells from a lot of different people’s old clothing in a single space, which can generate that specific scent.
Lastly, thrift shops have more than enough quality options to choose from. Emphasis on quality. I know many places such as Buffalo Exchange have standards for what they accept and put up for sale on their racks. Thrift stores are known for its variety. Depending on how the store is organized, you might have to search a bit for your size, but that is as far as your worries go. You most likely won’t walk out empty-handed.
I am no thrift-store guru extraordinaire, but I have 5 quick tips that helped me through my shopping experience that might be helpful to you too:
Tip #1: Know where to go.
I heard about many thrift shops in my area through word of mouth, but I also found The Thrift Shopper to be helpful in finding new ones. This website is an easy tool to finding a store near you, providing you with their contact information, hours, and other additional information like the charity they may be associated with.
Tip #2: Know what you’re looking for.
This is very important because otherwise, you’ll be in that store for years. Thrift shopping is an exciting experience. For me, any form of shopping is an exciting experience. You know, it’s all fun and games until you walk out with everything but what you initially came for. To avoid getting lost in the sauce, make a list.
Tip #3: Research the trends.
This goes with tip #2 in terms of preparation. Something I like to do is look through magazines or things online beforehand to find inspiration for looks I can recreate and make my own. Don’t be afraid to tailor or repurpose.
Tip #4: Look out for deals.
Many thrift shops have specials, frequently taking 50%, 75%, or sometimes even more off on all their items. It may be on certain days of the week. Stores often have discounts for specific groups of people like military vets, senior citizens, and students, too. Ask your local thrift shop what they have to offer.
Tip #5: Patience is key.
You have to go into thrifting knowing you might not find what you’re looking for right away. You’re gonna have to search for it and that’s all just part of the experience. It might feel like forever, but you will find it in no time.