You might not think that a blog post about thrifting tips would start out with a childhood story.....but I'm an old lady who has a story relating to everything so here goes....
When I was a youngen I was friends with a pretty manipulative little girl. She was bossy, always made me be the boy when we played house, and her breath smelled like poop. Really.
She loved to look for ways to jab me and back in those days I was a quiet kid who let everyone walk all over me. I hadn't yet broken out of my shell (that happened about a year later when I toilet papered the school bathroom ceiling....but that's another post for another day)
One day while playing at her house, she told me "My mom said you buy your clothes at THRIFT stores" with major attitude and a bitch face to match. I was 6 and didn't even know what a thrift store was. So she explained to me that my clothes were "old hand me downs." To me it had just always just been the store we shop at...I didn't care. But her mean girl attitude about the whole thing stung as a shy first grader. The funny part is the reason she even know this information is because her mom complimented how cute my clothes were and asked my mom where she shopped for me. So there! ;)
Fast forward about 14 years. I was 20 and had just started a new job and made friends with a girl named Kelley. I really admired her style and every time I would ask where she got something it was always from Goodwill. I would say things like "Ugghh...I SUCK at thrifting! I never find anything." When let's be honest.....I hadn't REALLY tried very hard. It took a few years but now I feel like I've found my thrifting groove and I'm ALMOST on her level. Here are some of the tips and tricks I've picked up along the way....
Just like I stated above, I was guilty of thinking that you can just show up here and there and find all these amazing gems. That's not how it works. You have to go often. I'm not saying you have to go 3 times a week and spend 2 hours there (although I would love that!) but you have to make a consistent effort. It works out best if you find a way to make it into a routine. I get out of work an hour early on Thursdays so I stop on my way home once a week to take a look. Then when I'm out and about on the weekends running errands I try to pop in when I can
Keep a Running "Look List"
Keep a list of things you're looking for. Picture frames, a leather satchel, a chambray button up shirt, vintage toddler toys.....those are some of the things I've had on my list. It helps if you show up with a purpose and then along the way you usually find a whole lot more. And make sure that this list isn't for urgent items. I'm sure most women to relate to this scenario..... You have a wedding to go to NEXT WEEKEND and you have a pretty specific idea in your head of the kind of dress you want. So you hit every store in the mall and can't find it anywhere. You leave pissed off and in even more of a panic. If it's that hard in new stores it can be 1,000x harder in a thrifting situation. Your options are to either go into it with a very vague idea of what you want and be flexible based on the items you come across....OR.....look ahead and start the hunt much earlier. I start shopping for things months in advance if I know exactly what I want
Scan EVERY Section of the Store
I highly suggest scanning every section of the store....even if you don't have anything from your "look list" in that area. A perfect example is that I was definitely not looking for anything over in the cup and thermos area....but walking past it quickly I found a brand new in the package Yetti brand tumbler cup....for $1.50!!!! That's a fraction of what it retails in the store and is a huge score for my Yetti lovin husband. Actually.....mathematically I paid only 5% of the retail price.
You never know what you're going to find so don't miss out on those opportunities
Become a Human Scanner
I call myself a human scanner because I can tell you the going price for a lot of different things....but it's good information to know. How are you ever going to recognize if you're getting a good deal or not if you don't have a general idea of what the regular retail price is. Pay attention to things as you are out shopping at regular stores and then you will know if it's worth the thrifting price or not. If you don't already know then just make Google your best friends (if it isn't already)
A couple of my own examples are when I came across this clipboard. It looked right up my sisters alley and also looked familiar. I did a little Google action and it's currently for sale at Target for $14.99
Guess how much I got it for?? 50 CENTS! Holla!!
One more example is this cute pair of wedges I came across. (left pair...the sandals aren't thrifted)
They were brand spankin new and exactly what I had been looking for for months.....but at $10 they were a little expensive to me for thrift store pricing. (yes, I'm really cheap and the more and more you thrift the better deals you look for) but I decided to google the brand because I had never heard of them before. Turns out they're a higher quality brand that they sell in stores like Nordstroms and the cheapest pair of any of their shoes I could find was $75......so when you think of it that way $10 brand new was a smoking deal that made me seal the deal. So moral of the story here: do your research
Envision the Potential
Another way to get the most out of thrifting is to look past what things are at face value and envision the potential in the item with a little TLC. Spray paint, lysol wipes, and magic erasers are your best friends (next to Google of course)! Here's a picture of one of my thrifting hauls
No I don't have a "thing" for snowy scene tins.....I got them because for $2 and the price of a coat of paint they made the perfect food and litter storage for MoMo kitty. (I'll post them sometime) And it's hard to tell in the picture....but the paint is all jacked up on the gumball machine but I wouldn't want a red one anyway. When you get things for a great deal to begin with you don't feel bad about customizing it as opposed to buying things brand new and still having to pay money to make it "right"
That covers the paint portion...but don't get too caught up on some of the grime you come across either. MOST things (definitely not all) can be cleaned up with a little elbow grease and look good. Like kids books for example....check the inside pages for scribbles and as long a the structure of the book is still good the outside covers can usually get a get scrubbing and be ok
Put That Crap in Your Cart and Decide Later!
As you're browsing I suggest that if you're even remotely interested in an item you just put it in your basket and decide if you REALLY want it later. Why you ask? Because it's a scientifically proven fact that once you touch an item you have activated its "It" factor and other people are going to want it now. Ok....so maybe it's not scientifically proven (although that's a study I can get behind and then win a Nobel prize for) But really, who know how it goes. You're on the same aisle as someone and out of the corner of your eye you see them pick up and examine something closely. Then you wonder.....what did I just walk past that they find so intriguing?? So you wait for them to put it down and walk around the corner and then you scurry over to discover the most amazing thing in the world that you can't possibly live without and wonder how you could ever have passed it by. They come back later because they decide they really do want it and now it' s gone. Waaah waah!! Don't let it happen to you! You can always put it back but you can't always guarantee it'll still be there in 10 minutes. Better to be safe than sorry.
And if you're worried that it'll make you spend too much by putting it in your cart then try my trick. As I pick up things I deem them in my head whether or not they are worth standing and waiting in the check out line for if that's the only thing you I find. As I find more things some things get the boot because I would rather have "This" than "that" and seem less important as I find new things. Or if I find nothing else worth buying I might put it back just because it wasn't worth getting in line for. It kind of creates a system of check and balances...at least for me.....to keep me from buying everything I place in my cart as a "maybe"
So there ya have it. Hope these tips help you suck a little less at thrifting :)