I have to admit, I avoided shopping at thrift stores for years. I figured that it's already hard enough to find clothes that fit a tall frame, why make it harder by being forced to sift through a mish-mash of clothing on an endless series of racks?
That all changed when, on a whim, I spent an afternoon at a Goodwill. I came away with two dresses, a top, four purses, two belts, three necklaces and three bracelets all for $60.00. I was an instant thrift store convert.
To avoid falling prey to frustration when attempting to shop at thrift stores, follow these quick tips:
- Go in with a game plan. The day I became a convert, I knew I needed a dress for a wedding. I started my search in the dress section and after I found the perfect dress, I branched out my search to discover accessories and complimentary pieces that I could mix and match with it. If you can focus on finding a single item of clothing it will end up making the whole process easier as you discover other items that match or blend with the first piece you choose.
- Give yourself plenty of time. If you have to pick out a new outfit in an hour or less, don't bother doing it at a thrift store. It's not that it's impossible to find something that fast, but you'll be racing against the clock as you sort through the hangers and you're bound to start feeling stressed if you don't immediately find what you're looking for.
- Avoid hard-to-fit items. Finding pants with an extra long inseam or shoes in an extra large size will not be easy to do at a thrift store. You should give the pant-aisle a quick glance to see if any hems are hanging much lower than their counterparts, then take a quick walk-through of the shoe aisle to see if there are options that look especially "boat like." If nothing immediately stands out, you should probably move on. Stick to tops, skirts, shorts, dresses and accessories when shopping at a thrift store.
- Try everything on. Thrift stores offer a veritable smorgasbord of brands, sizes and vintages of clothing. A size eight in one brand will not be a size eight in another brand. Never assume something from a thrift store will fit without first trying it on.
- You don't have to buy just because it's cheap. After discovering your first prize item, you may find yourself falling into "frenetic bargain finder" mode - charging around the store, picking up items, checking the labels, then thinking, "Why not? It's only $3.00!" By the time you get home and unpack your things the high will have worn off and you may look at your purchases with confusion - why in the world did you buy three white button downs and eight more t-shirts? It's natural to get excited about finding shopping deals, but a deal is only a deal if it actually means something to you. Whenever you make a thrift store purchase, always ask yourself if you really like the item, if you would consider paying more for the item, whether you already have a similar item at home and where you intend to wear it. If you can't answer each of these questions, then you should probably leave the bargain for someone else.