Saturday, November 1, 2014

How to Shop at a Thrift Store

When you go into a thrift store, everything can seem really overwhelming. Where do you start? Clothes are packed onto the racks, shoes are everywhere, and to be honest, at first glance it usually looks like there is nothing you would remotely be interested in. However, it is always good to remind yourself that a little hidden gem could be amongst the chaos. 

I am a thrift store junky. I will go into any thrift store at least once. I actually have an interesting story about the thrift store that I am currently addicted to. When I first moved to where I live now, everyone said that it was fantastic. The first time I went into it, I thought to myself, “You have got to me kidding me. There is absolutely nothing here for me.  I definitely would not like any of this.” I didn’t go back in until a year later. It was then that I realized I was looking, but I wasn’t really seeing.

Now I go into my thrift store more times than I am willing to admit, but it is a healthy addiction. It’s not like I have a bad habit of shopping at Neiman Marcus. It’s only a thrift store, so I can justify it. Since shopping at this thrift store, I have acquired tips and tricks on how to thrift store shop. Here they are:

  1. Find out how frequently they change out their merchandise. My thrift store changes every day. Maybe your thrift store changes every Sunday. This would mean that it would be wise to shop on Monday, or early in the week. There will probably be a much smaller selection by the time Friday and Saturday rolls around. 
  2. Ask if they hold any seasonal sales. For instance, will they be having a sale when fall turns into winter? Will they be having a sale when winter turns into spring? Also ask if they hold any bag sales. My thrift store holds a $5 bag sale twice a year.
  3. Find out if there is a pricing system. Your thrift store might put a shirt for $3 if it is from a generic store and $10 if it is designer. It helps when you are looking at merchandise and do not recognize the brand or if it does not have a brand/tag. You can look at the price and automatically know if it is a designer or if it is from a store like Target, Forever 21, or Abercrombie.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price. If you have a good argument about why you think an item is overpriced, you will have an even better chance at getting it reduced. You may not always get the answer you are looking for, however it does not hurt to ask. You only have something to gain.
  5. Keep an open mind. I went into my thrift store with a closed mind and it took me a year to figure out that it is one of the best thrift store’s I have ever been into. If you are not looking for hidden gems, you won’t find any. Once you open your mind, your whole world is open to new discoveries.
  6. Remember that you can always repurpose items. If you are looking for something to be absolutely perfect, it will be very difficult to please your needs. Something as little as new buttons can completely change an item from less than perfect to complete perfection.
  7. Take your time. If you give yourself thirty minutes in a store, there is a big possibility that you will feel rushed. Especially if you need to try on items. I feel much more at ease when I know that I have time to look through everything, try things on, and make educated decisions on what I want and don’t want. I feel as if my concentration and decision-making abilities are increased by 100%. The worse thing that can happen is hastily buying something you won’t use or realizing that there are so many amazing things that you have no time to look through; so, try your best to avoid these mistakes.
  8. Do not expect one thrift store to have absolutely everything. Do not judge it based upon whether or not they have amazing items in all categories. You may find a thrift store that has amazing holiday items and another thrift store that has amazing clothes and shoes. They both may provide everything, but one may be what you are looking for in one category and another may be what you are looking for in another category.
  9. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. There is always a possibility that you catch a store on a bad day. Maybe they have low merchandise or they incurred a problem and everyone is stressed out. I now believe that every thrift store deserves at least a second chance.
  10. If you find a thrift store that you really love, I suggest you ask if they would let you volunteer for store credit. My local thrift store gives $5 store credit for every 3 hours of volunteer work. Store credit can really help when you find yourself shopping there multiple times a month, or even a week!
Shopping at a thrift store is a great way to acquire a lot of basic items for a small amount of money. There will always be thrift stores you try to like, but it just does not click. The best feeling is when it does click and you find one that you just cannot live without. Using the tips I have provided will hopefully help you in your quest for the perfect thrift store! 

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