Tuesday, February 8, 2011

thrifting tips

a few people have asked about our thrifting adventures. seeking advice on how to thrift and find the good deals. well, i am not claiming to be an expert...i mean, i didn't get my thrifting degree. but i think i can safely say that both nora and i are pretty good at it. we come from a mother who loves a good deal. i grew up thinking that $10 was a lot to pay for a pair of shoes, and while i hated it growing up, i am loving it as an adult and as a mother. so, i will give you the tips that i use when i shop for myself. hopefully they help! if not, you're welcome to shop with us anytime!

1. go often. get to know each store. i have my favorites that i like to go to. thrifting can oftentimes be very overwhelming. stores are big, not always organized, and have loads and loads of stuff. if you go often and continue to go to the same stores, you will learn where you want to be in each store. i usually always look at shoes first, then vintage (if they have a vintage section), then i look at art work, then dresses, etc...you know what you like, so look in that area first. but seriously, this stuff changes every day, so go often. especially if you can go during non-traditional traffic time, like weekdays during the day.

2. sign up for email notifications. thrift stores are always having sales and deals. if you sign up for emails, you will know about all the sales. when they do have sales, get there early! grab a cart...you will need one.

3. if you see something you like, grab it. right now. don't think about it while you shop. you can always put it back later, but chances are, if you think something is cute, so will someone else.

4. if you see something that you really like, buy it. if you're like me and regret things you didn't get, buy it. this isn't a place that has mass-produced items. you can't go back tomorrow and buy it. well, maybe you can. but do you really want to take that chance???

5. if you don't like digging through items, or if you don't have a lot of time, scan. this is what i do when i only have a few minutes to shop...i walk up and down the aisles, looking at the patterns and textures of the clothes. i know what i like and don't like, and if i see a pattern or texture that i love, then i can stop and inspect the item to see if i want it or not.

6. which leads me to...inspect the items. people donate a lot of junk. seriously, i am amazed sometimes by the stuff i see. seriously? if it's torn and stained, throw it away. no one wants to buy it! so be careful, if you see something you love, check it for holes, broken zippers, frayed hems, stains, etc. it might be something you can fix...so use your own judgement on whether or not it's worth it.

7. look in all the size sections. not every store is sectioned by size...but if it is, check them all out. i can't believe i didn't always do this. i am always finding items that say large, but are really small. or even the items that are too large for me, but will look cute belted, or as a dress instead of a shirt...a little imagination goes a long way. i have also recently discovered that i can wear shoes that are a little small or big for me. i no longer just check the size 8 section at thrift stores...i have bought many a size 9 that actually fit me!

8. nora and i have a little thing we do when we shop together. we will hold up an item and say "is this cute?" if she says yes, i will then say, "but is it $5 cute?" to which she will give me an honest answer. $5 is a lot to spend on one item at a thrift store, so if you don't love it, don't buy it just because it's $5. don't get me wrong, i do that all the time...i don't always practice what i preach. but once you get into the mindset that $10 is a lot to pay for a pair of shoes, this gets easier. on the flip side, if something is one-of-a-kind, don't feel bad about paying a little more for it. a super cute pair of cowboy boots for $19.99 just might be worth it to you!

9. walk through the store more than once. if you have time, try it. seriously, i miss so much the first time around. i am one of those weirdos who walks through a store at least twice before leaving. you just never know...

10. finally, if you are out of town or on a road trip, check out the small thrift stores along the way. they have some of the best stuff. any time i go out of town, i google thrift stores in the area and try to hit up at least six of them. i have found some amazing deals.

see, not an expert, and i'm sure this is all common sense to most people. but really, just have fun with it. if you love shopping like i do, then you are probably already an expert thrifter (is there a word for that? thriftspert? thriftologist?) and, if you ever need a partner, i'm available for house calls ; ).

does anyone else have any advice to add? i'm sure there is much, much more to say on the matter!
happy thrifting!



  1. great post and awesome timing for me. We plan on hitting a few thrift stores after we stop by your sale on saturday!
    I have been the victim of your #3 and #4, you'd think I'd learn but no.

  2. I could not have said it many better! Every single one I was like OMG I do that!! thanks for the tips-- you are so right about not waiting for an item and regretting not getting it-- I did it last weekend with a piece of furniture (a really awesome wood bar on wheels) went back monday and it was gone!

    I enjoy your blog, feel free to follow mine =)

  3. These are awesome tips! Next time I go to my favorite (St. Vincent's), I will see if they have an email list to join. I missed a 75% off sale the other day and I was pissed! haha