Hello my fashionable friends! I wanted to write up a helpful "How To" thrift guide because I've gotten the impression over the years that the majority of people feel overwhelmed when it comes to "the hunt" and rather not try! (Which I totally get!) But before I do I felt it appropriate to write a little introduction or ode to my love of thrifting because it is really on that level! (Haha)
Much to my surprise I didn't set foot in a thrift store until my sophomore year in high school while hanging out with my new gal pals from a bible study I had just joined. I grew up bargain hunting at Ross and have been shopping at Target since I can remember (thanks Aunt Cindy!) but for whatever reason shopping second hand wasn't a part of my family culture growing up. Well needless to say after that first shopping trip I was hooked! I even remember what I purchased; a white pair of Roller Derby skates and a turquoise sweatshirt which I cut into an 80's style oversized neck, off the shoulder piece and wore excessively that year. I think maybe it's the thrill of the find or seeing how far $5 can get you but thrifting has been a hobby of mine ever since.
Flash forward twelve-ish years (agh that makes me feel old!) and I think with fondness of all the second hand treasures I've scored over the years and given away too! (Because otherwise I would be a hoarder and it has come to that several times before doing a healthy purge every so often)
I love to thrift because of the versatility it affords my wardrobe. I can be very hard on my clothes so buying something lightly used (sometimes even still new with tags!) at a fraction of the price always makes me feel better because I never know how long I will be able to keep it looking nice if I am being completely honest haha.
Ok now that we've covered that ;) the second and main objective of this post is to give you a simple plan of attack when it comes to shopping those resale racks to hopefully give you a boost of confidence in trying it for yourself and creating your dream wardrobe on a modest budget.
1) The Goodwill Bargain Bins.
I am starting here because this is hands down the cheapest place to shop! ALSO the sketchiest. I am going to try and be 100% real with you so you aren't completely affronted if you try and visit one. Ok let's start with the positives: They price their merchandise out by weight! Typically around $1.50 a pound and this is why I love to shop here. I've found some real gems and because of their light weight I've at times paid pennies to a dollar for these pieces. That is exhilarating to me! Now onto some of the cons, because you can't have a rose without the thorns ;) Everything here is tossed into giant rolling bins, they are like troughs for clothes ;) They've got shoes, books, clothes and then miscellaneous (which is a whole lotta of everything else) sorted into different bins. It is definitely worth a gander in my opinion, at least once to see if you care for the experience! It has also been an amazing place for us to get books, it varies location to location but typically they are under a dollar and I constantly find vintage books for decor if not for reading. (Also kids books are only .25 cents!) One last bit of advice when it comes to shopping here, the customers are a varied as the merchandise. What I mean is some folks can be VERY territorial, for example depending on the location, when a new bin is rolled out it can get fiesty, a lot of flea market and re-sale venders shop here because of the crazy low prices so they are very particular about finding those deals. I am not very competitive at all and rarely do I get in the middle of that craziness and I still manage to find great pieces so no worries about that! With all thrifting some days you win some days you lose, going somewhat frequently and only buying what you love is a good way to get the best collection!
^ My thrifting haul from my most recent trip to "the bins". I spent $11 and about one hour shopping and got all of this cute stuff including Coach flats, Joe's jeans and cute vintage baby clothes!
2) Buy Sell Trades.
If you know me personally you would know that I've spent the majority of my adult life working fashion retail! Crossroads was my first job right out of high school and thanks to a serendipitous series of events I ended up working for some of my favorite people for several years at FreeStyle Clothing Exchange in Sacramento, CA. These days I am working part time at Fringe and Fray, a local Buy Sell Trade boutique in Spokane and I love it! I guess resale is just in my blood at this point and I can't escape it ;) So what is a Buy Sell Trade? You can trade in your stylish and lightly worn clothes and receive a fraction of the selling price in cash or store credit. I highly prefer shopping Buy Sell Trade over consignment because 1.) The merchandise seems to have a higher turn over rate, keeping the store and selection continually fresh! 2.) You can use store credit!! I almost never get cash when I sell clothes because the store credit value is typically higher and can go towards (drumroll)...more clothes! If you don't live in an area with one of these mentioned stores I also reccomend Buffalo Exchange or Plato's Closet but the customer service and quality can vary location to location. My favorite Plato's Closet is in Reno, the staff there was the sweetest!!
^Here are some pictures from the Buy Sell Trade I work at in Spokane, WA. Fringe and Fray! We carry lightly worn designer pieces from stores like Anthropologie and Nordstrom for a small fraction of what you pay for pieces like these new, it's pretty amazing! :)
3) Poshmark App
I started to use this site at the beginning of this year and so far have had a positive experience. I like to use Poshmark when I am looking for something particular. I don't use it to just aimlessly shop because sellers are looking to get top dollar for their items (which I get because I have sold on here as well!) so the bargains aren't as amazing in my cheap skate opinion. That said they are still less than retail and it's been a great way to find what I am looking for! For example last spring I purchased a barely used pair of Saltwaters sandals for $25 which have been a staple in my wardrobe this summer! Or this bundle of Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters headbands for $15!
If you do decide to join/check out PoshMark use my referral code (JUAMC) to receive $5 credit off your first purchase and I will get $5 credit as well, woohoo! My username is @Karinathebean :)
And of course what is left are conventional thrift stores, most of them donation run to support charities and organizations (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Hospice, etc) and others for profit. (Like Eco Thrift or Thift Town) These are my least favorite way to thrift because they usually have general pricing that has nothing to do with the brand or quality of the items so yes you can absolutely score amazing pieces (Like the time I found a current Anthro skirt, new with tags at the Roseville Goodwill) for like 5.99 but if it's just a cute basic piece from Target that price isn't very impressive to me so I suggest the above options to optimize your thrifting experience. But of course that is just my opinion and it works for most people so hey, to each their own! ;) And a side note, shop on bank holidays, most thrift stores will have 50% off sales or at least some significant discounts!
A technique that usually works well for me in any kind of thrifting scenario is a quick scan of the racks (or bins) for colors and/or prints that catch your eye. I will usually start there because rarely, if ever, do I have the time or patience to examine each item. I am big on textures too, maybe the print or color wasn't eyecatching but if it feels soft like cashmere or silk I'm suddenly interested! (I found my friend Kiersten a great sweater recently this way) So do your thing and have fun popping those tags, because why not when it's only .99 cents! ;)
Happy hunting and let me know if you find any killer treasures in the coming weeks! XOXO