10 Tips and Tricks for Thrift Shopping

by Shania Gordon

Thrift shopping is a fun and convenient way to save money while exposing yourself to a variety of clothing, accessories and knick-knacks. Though the venture to find desired pieces is most favorable when ‘going with the flow’, advancing down this path rarely ends successfully. When brands are sorted with other brands and styles displayed alongside their complete opposite, feeling overwhelmed is definitely common.

These tips and tricks will have you coming out with cute new things and minimize the anxiety, while making thrifting a thrill rather than a hassle.

1. HAVE A PLAN

No one really goes to a thrift store knowing exactly what they want, but having an idea doesn’t hurt. That being said, a list is smart to have. Have an idea on styles or colors you want to experiment with. This will make thrifting easier and less overwhelming.

2. DRESS WISELY.

Often times there are a limited amount of changing rooms, so it is wise to dress lightly. Wear clothes and shoes that you can easily slip off and on. This won’t only benefit the person waiting in line, but it will also preserve time spent, allowing you to put back what you don’t like and replace it with more.

Do wear: Tank tops, blouses, dresses, sweatpants, sweatshirts, flip flops, comfortable sneakers.
Do not wear: Tight clothes, layered clothes, excessive or bothersome jewelry.

3. CARRY LITTLE THINGS.

Due to you moving around a lot, you’re not going to want to be carry a huge backpack filled with unnecessary items. As you are dressing light you should also carry light. Perhaps a crossbody, with your wallet, phone and must have items. You’re not going to have a place to rest valuable items and misplacing them is the last thing you’ll want happening on your venture.


4. BRING BAGS AND A CART.

Now is the time. You’re entering the gates of alluring and mesmerizing items; don’t forget to grab a cart. This comes in handy even if you’re aiming to shop lightly, it is always rewarding when you’re not swatting your handbag to-and-fro while balancing your items. Having a temporary place to put your thrifted items will come in handy.

5. GO DIRECTLY TO WHAT YOU WANT.

Now with your shopping cart in hand, you’ve finally entered a world of options. The most effective way to get things started is to go directly to what you want. Sucker for baggy things and graphics? Give the men’s section a visit. Start from the bottom and gradually working your way to the top.

6. SCAN YOUR ITEM.

When picking up an item, be sure to look out for stains or broken zippers. This will prevent you from buying something you most likely will never wear, or grant a reasonable discount when pointing out the flaw to the cashier!


7. NEVER STICK TO ONE SECTION.

Even if you’re more focused on baggy sweats and graphics, remember to wander around every section and scan throughout. You never know what will be hiding in between each rack. Most items are separated by colors, so to save time try starting at the colors you fancy.

8. CHECK SIZES.

This won’t apply for tops and sweatshirts ( bagginess often being a preference ) but is for jeans, skirts and dresses. Check it briefly when holding, if the item appears to be too small; see if it stretches. If something appears too big, see if it has loops for belts or if there is any possibility of alterations.


9. DON’T OVERLOOK THE KIDS’ SECTION !

A majority are small in this section, but once in a while you’ll find items that will give a reasonable fit. Cartoon logos and items are usually in this section, which is great if you’re into Marvel, Minecraft, DC and other popular kid themes.

10. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

Ugh, that shirt is WAY too big on you but you can’t resist because it’s your favorite color and you love the style. The perks of thrift shopping is price, making personalizing easy. What’s there to lose? Cut and stitch to your liking. Just because an item with desired features isn’t the right length or width now, doesn’t mean you can’t customize it.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Tenacity” The Teller October 2019 Issue #7

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