10 Tips For Thrift Store Clothing Shopping Success

6 Sep

ImageThere was a real stigma associated with buying from a thrift store when I was a kid; especially when it came to buying clothing. This attitude was based on two illogical ideas: first, anyone who bought from these stores was a “garbage picker”, and secondly, if you bought from a thrift store you were stealing the opportunity from a poor person to buy that item. In short, it was OK to donate, but not to support the store by making a purchase. Today, people are less ignorant and understand that their purchase, not just their donation, is vital to the success of the thrift store.

Thrift stores differ from consignment stores and resale shops in a couple different ways. The main difference is that thrift stores rely on donated goods, sharing none of the profits with the item’s original owner. Thrift stores do not require donors to make sure the clothing is clean, in good repair, or current. For-profit thrift stores are more selective about the items they sell since they need to turn a profit to stay in business: it doesn’t make sense to waste labor cost or expensive floor space on items that will not sell.

Since the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis began, all of these stores, especially thrift store, have been flooded with items from folks had to dump their belongings in order to lighten the load. Retailers of new clothing, noticing this trend, began to reduce their prices in order to compete for limited customers. As a result, thrift store now have some of the highest quality (often new) clothing for the cheapest prices. In addition, thrift stores have specials (usually half off) and coupons (also half off) for deals that cannot be beat.

Now that you have a better understanding of the current market, here’s some tips for a successful shopping trip:

  1. Take a shopping list. Know what you need and what you have that will work your intended purchases. Know what size you need and what colors and styles work best.
  2. Coupons & sales. Visit the website and check your local paper for store coupons. Check website for special sale days; check in-store signs to see which items are on sale that day, usually by color tags.
  3. Leave the kids at home. Period. This will save your sanity and avoid lots of regretful purchases.
  4. Eat, drink & pee. Since you will probably be in the store a while, make sure you have eaten to avoid low blood sugar irritability. Make sure you are hydrated and use the toilet, since most stores do not have water fountains or public toilets.
  5. Allergy proof. Thrift stores are notoriously full of allergens, especially dust and mildew. I always take an antihistamine before shopping to avoid the misery and constant hunt for a clean Kleenex.
  6. Travel light. Only take what will fit in you pocket. This will reduce your chance of loss and theft. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t bring it.
  7. Dress appropriately. Since most stores lack dressing rooms, you have to try on clothing in public. If you wear lightweight or form-fitting exercise clothing, you can easily slide clothing on and off right over your outfit. Avoid wearing accessories since they make the process cumbersome. Pin your hair back or cover with a silky headscarf to make dressing easier and keep your hair dust free. Wear slip on shoes, especially if you are trying on pants.
  8. Wear gloves. I prefer cheap disposable latex medical gloves since they are easy to work in. This not only keeps my hands clean, but prevents hangnails and reminds me not to rub my eyes or face which can cause contact dermatitis.
  9. Avoid wishful thinking purchases. Don’t buy clothing that require weight loss, repairs, stain removal, etc. Let’s face it, you’re not going to follow through despite best intentions. Don’t buy items with the idea of reselling for a profit; it’s not going to happen in this economy especially if you are not already an expert.
  10. Wash immediately. If it’s dry-clean only, keep it in the trunk if you can’t go straight to the drycleaners; otherwise, put it straight in the washer. This will not only remove allergens, but remove the risk of infestation of bedbugs, lice, flea, etc.

With a little planning and basic understanding of the process, you can get some really great deals on a new wardrobe!

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3 Responses to “10 Tips For Thrift Store Clothing Shopping Success”

  1. loveitliz September 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Loving your blog —it’s so stylish! I’d love it if you could check out mine. Keep posting!

  2. hausofartistry September 20, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Great post and tips!

    • realpennywise September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks! I’m always open to suggestions if there is something you would like to see 🙂

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