Sometimes people say crazy things to me like, "I wish I could find cool things at the thrift store" or "I can never find anything good at thrift stores." Sounds crazy to me, because I don't think it takes any ridiculous skill to thrift. Anyone can do it, and today's post is a collection of a few tips for how. I have waited on posting this, because I feel like they're similar tips to what's already out there. But I also don't mind being a reiteration of solid advice.
I'll start with this. Shopping in a thrift store is nowhere near as easy as shopping retail. Thrifting takes more time. It takes more effort. You're definitely a little dirtier when it's all said and done, and sometimes you leave with nothing. That said, a great find, in my humble opinion, is worth an hour of time, and definitely the little cash it will cost.
1. Decide how much time you're willing to dedicate to a thrift trip, and plan accordingly.
Are you down to spend an hour or more sifting through the racks, or is this a quick 10-15 minute trip? If it's the latter, you should walk in with a plan that narrows your selection. Maybe you're looking for a specific item, like a chambray top, or a metallic bag. Sometimes, when I'm not looking for anything in particular but have a very limited amount of time, I'll restrict myself to just home decor, or shoes, or something that doesn't require a fitting room. Sometimes I'll restrict myself to what's on sale, which means scanning for tag colors. This is all to say, you shouldn't walk in expecting for something to just jump off the rack at you when you walk in. Sure that does happen sometimes (not literally), but usually it takes some digging. Instead of doing a quick glance at every section, do a thorough search through a single section.
2. Look at everything.
If you do have time or if you've narrowed it down, look at EVERYTHING. Touch everything. The gems are often tucked between the crap. It takes time, but if you have a podcast playing, and get that hanger flipping rhythm going, time flies by. It's easy to shop at a regular retailer without actually ever touching anything, because everything is displayed to draw you in and make it easy for you to spend your money. This isn't the case at thrift stores, but often times the amount of work you put into it is how much you get out of it. Side note: If you're at a giant Goodwill you're not probably not going to want to touch literally every single thing in the store, in which case you can just go through certain sections. At smaller thrift stores, though, I will literally look through every single rack, shelf and basket available to me.
3. Size doesn't matter.
Especially, ESPECIALLY, with women's clothing, sizing does not matter. You can start your search in what you believe to be your size, but don't restrict yourself. Sizes between clothing companies are not consistent, and the human beings stocking these racks aren't perfect either. I have clothing in my closet of all sizes. I buy boy's t-shirts sometimes. I buy men's t-shirts sometimes. I find women's clothing in the men's section sometimes. The labels (on the clothes and on the walls) are guidelines, not hard rules.
4. Check the fitting room rack.
I LOVE doing this, especially when I see people in the store my age, or with style I like. Someone has already done the work for the clothing on that reject rack, it just didn't quite fit. Nothing wrong with being a scavenger. You're already in a thrift store.
5. Enjoy the process.
You're not always going to find something you want to take home, so it helps to enjoy the act of thrifting as much as its rewards. I always have a podcast playing these days when I'm thrifting. It makes it me time, but I also just love the game of imagining a strange or funny item's history. I've seen a very detailed painting of a uterus, a little tombstone that said "Please stop smoking, son" on it, and enough t-shirts with dad jokes on them to last me a lifetime. I didn't buy any of those things, but they still brought me some joy on my way to finding the things I actually did want to buy.