To say that I love thrift shopping would be a massive understatement. It would be more accurate to say that I LIVE thrift shopping. If you were to take a look in my closet you would probably find that about 80%-90% of the clothes are secondhand. It's become almost an inside joke with the people who know me, because so many of my conversations go like this:
"Maranda, I really like your (insert clothing item here)!"
"Thanks! It's from a thrift store."
I should get that on a t-shirt.
I've come into thrifting mostly because I was raised doing it, but there are many benefits of and reasons for thrifting. First of all, it's better for your wallet. Thrifting is a much cheaper form of shopping. While you could get one shirt for a retail price of $20, that same $20 could buy you anywhere from 5-20 items at a secondhand store. Second, it's better for your community. Lots of secondhand stores employ workers with disabilities, or who otherwise would have a hard time finding employment. Some are run by churches. You're contributing back to your local economy. Third, it's better for your environment. If you think about it, thrifting is recycling. You help cut back on waste by keeping used clothes in circulation.
You may be thinking to yourself, "That sounds great and all, but I can never find anything at thrift stores." I'm convinced that pretty much anyone can find success in thrifting, and here's how:
1. Don't be afraid. Plenty of people tell me that they just can't find things at thrift stores. Thrifting is a lot different from retail shopping because there aren't racks full of a few items, and it's almost always hit-or-miss. To me that's the fun of it; I like to think of it like a treasure hunt. You have to understand that you won't always find exactly what you're looking for (or anything at all). Give it a shot. Keep digging. If you can't find anything you like, find another thrift store.
2. Do your research. Not all thrift stores are created equal. Look up secondhand stores in your community. Some stores have a higher standard as far as what items they'll accept. These stores usually have higher prices to match the quality. Other places might have dirt cheap prices--for example, one church-run store near my house sells everything for a dollar or less. You can also try to stay up-to-date on fashion trends so that you know what you're looking for. One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through the Urban Outfitters and Free People websites to find clothes that look exactly like things I've thrifted, then comparing the prices. (I may do a future post with comparison pictures just because it's so fun.) If you know styles and brands to look for, you can pick out items that are stylish and well-made.
3. Mix and match. I'm about to share one of the best secrets I've learned from thrifting: put the new with the old. Thrift eccentric items. Buy new basic pieces. Thrift classic items. Buy new trendy pieces. Even though thrift stores are treasure troves for eccentric stuff, they're also great places to find basic pieces that can be paired with up-to-date styles. The reverse is also true. Build up a collection of good quality, new, classic pieces, then add the more fun and quirky thrift pieces. Personally I have a hard time finding pants and jeans at thrift stores, so that's an item I usually buy new. Accessories--like jewelry and hats--are another thing I buy new (and on sale). T-shirts, cardigans, sweaters, and dresses are great items to thrift. There are plenty of in-style items at thrift stores, especially things that have gone out of style and come back in. It's an even better deal if you can thrift trendy items, because once it goes out of style, you haven't lost much money on it.
I hope this post has inspired you to go treasure hunting at your local Goodwill. Happy thrifting!