Thursday, May 15, 2014

5 Tips for Thrift Store Shopping

Earlier this week I went to my local Goodwill to treat myself after a long day of work. I found a simple, red button-down sleeveless shirt and sent a picture to a friend for approval to which she responded, "How do you do that?!" I've had other friends share their frustrations with trying to shop at the thrift store so I thought it might be helpful to give my 5 tips on successful thrift store shopping:

1. Go early in the week. 
Most people have the time to make donations over the weekend so a great number of new items are on the floor on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you have the flexibility in your schedule to go in the morning or early afternoon, I highly recommend using that time since it's not as crowded.

2. Take each section at a time.
I like to start at the back, where all the furniture and homegoods are located, and then work my way up to the clothing since there tends to be much more to sift through. Keep your eyes open for basic serving pieces like trays, drink dispensers or pitchers and vases- there's usually a good selection that simply needs to be run through the dishwasher. In regards to furniture, unless a piece is a steal, really consider if it's made with quality material (i.e., real wood) before purchasing. And if it needs some TLC, honestly consider if you have the time and extra resources to give the piece a make over. A perk is that most stores will help you load large pieces into your vehicle!

3. Shop for staple items.
Athens is filled with vintage shops so I don't really consider the thrift store a great resource for true vintage pieces, especially since the quality can be sub-par. Instead, I look for staple wardrobe pieces that you read "every woman should have" but don't want to pay full retail on- like white button downs, lightweight jackets, dress skirts, and blouses. Staying somewhat specific is key in not getting overwhelmed. You can see I have a growing sleeveless button-down collection :)

4. Look for name brands.
Perhaps it's because I live in a college town, but my local Goodwill has a plethora of J.Crew, Gap, Loft and other top brands on a pretty consistent basis. Some of the local boutiques even donate their "left over" merchandise so it's easy to find pieces in mint condition. If I take the time to sift through an entire rack, I only pull an item to check the size if it's a name brand I love and can trust the quality. I mean, these are used clothes we're talking about! Just this week when going through the jeans section (one. by. one.) I walked away with two pairs of designer jeans - one by 7 for All Mankind and one by J.Crew. It might feel time consuming, but the extra 10 minutes are certainly worth the couple hundred dollars saved.

5. Find out the color of the day.
Thrift stores, like traditional stores, are trying to turn over product quickly and to keep items moving out, they offer half price discounts on certain tag colors. Once you know the color of the day, double check your items to see if any apply. Become familiar with pricing as every thrift store varies and just because it's used does not mean it's dirt cheap. At least the money is going toward something good!

Some Goodwill trips end up with me walking out empty handed, and that's OK too. I hope I have convinced any of you who don't thrift to give it a try, and if you do thrift but never seem to have success, I hope these tips offer fresh perspective to give it another go!

Do you thrift or shop at consignment stores? I'd love to hear any of your tips or suggestions!


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