It is estimated that Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person a year.
Thrifting can also be considered a sport.
How can I get the best stuff for the fewest dollars? Anyone can dash into Nordstrom’s and pick up pants in three colors with the help of the ever-present salesclerk.
Thrifting takes time, attention to detail, imagination, and perseverance. With any luck, you too might win a “Thrifting Trophy” like a pair of Manolo Blahniks or a Coach bag!
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Google “Thrift stores near me” to find store locations, hours, and sale days.
Consider which day is best to visit the thrift shops.
- Most thrift stores have days where certain item categories are discounted- senior day, shopper loyalty day, last Saturday of the month. (The downside: parking and shopping carts will probably be in short supply.)
A little preparation leads to success.
- Before you go, make a list of things you need (and bring it with you.) The list will guide your shopping trip, focus your time/efforts. If size matters, (e.g. furniture, curtains, frames) measure before you go and bring a measuring tape to the store. Measure clothes that fit spread out flat- shoulder seam to shoulder seam, waist, hips, pant and sleeve length. Use those measurements to “prescreen” clothes; if the measurements match, then try them on.
- Tuck a small folded nylon shopping bag into your purse/pants. This helps spare our waterways of plastic waste. (Savers & Value Village no longer provide plastic bags, but will sell you a paper bag.)
- Bring a small package of wet wipes to check whether a stain on a garment will come out, whether a shoe scuff, flaw on a piece of furniture can be removed.
- These signs will tell you what’s on sale that day/week (often designated by a tag barb color on clothes, a letter after the price on other items- e.g. 8B = $8 and reduced when blue is the color that’s on sale.)
- Most thrift stores are very well organized- by item category, size, and even color. That said, other shoppers may find a good item and squirrel it away in the wrong section or wedge it in an obscure cubby-hole so they can pick it up later.
- Find a great outfit for an upcoming trip or your friend’s wedding in two months.
- Target donates clearance items/unsold merchandise to some Goodwills for a tax write-off. You may also find new items that individuals donate- often unwanted gifts or items too late to return.
- Bric-a-brac, housewares and souvenirs often show no signs of wear.
- If you find something great at a great price, buy it- it will likely be gone by your next visit. These two wire statues (6) -Big Ben and the Chrysler Bldg in NYC -were purchased for $1.99 each and retail for $49!
And finally, when you no longer need your purchase,
re-donate the item to a thrift shop!
Upcoming Topics: Tips for thrifting for holidays and special occasions; Finding unique and unusual items at a thrift store; Finding great shoes, handbags and luggage at a thrift store; What to look for when buying furniture and linens at a thrift store.