I grew up with the “Queen of Thrift Stores” my grandma. She only shopped at thrift stores and was proud of it. Our local Salvation Army was a block away and we would visit there at least once a week. I was witness to many people coming up and complimenting her on her outfits. She was more than happy to tell them that it was purchased second hand. And I mean from the hat on her head to the shoes on her feet.
Here are a few tips to help you look like a million without spending a lot:
- Scout local thrift shops and ask them where they get their goods. You want to find locations that collect from upscale areas where “retail therapy” is an art form and the clothes look like they were barely worn.
- Shop brands. If you’re a thrift store newbie, look for designer labels and well-known names. You’ll be more confident that you’ve found a deal. Not to mention that the clothes were probably better made and will last longer.
- Launder or dry clean everything. Even if the item still has the original price tag, they’ve been handled by lots of people, tried on and stored with other garments.
- Become a regular. Make friends with the staff so they know what sort of items you’re after. This might be harder to do at large thrift stores, but it is worth a try. It’s also a good idea to find out when stores put out their new merchandise so you can show up early.
- Don’t be afraid to barter. Although some stores have stricter policies, many are willing to be talked down on a price that’s a little too high.
- Avoid binging. It can be tempting to stock up when you go to a thrift store – why buy just one sweater when you can buy 10 for $25? But odds are you don’t need ten sweaters, or even two. Unless you find something really great that you’ll actually use, stick to your shopping list. It’s better for your wallet and for the environment.
- Give back. Don’t forget to drop off the things you no longer use or need when you’re at the thrift store! Most of us have a pile of stuff to give away “someday” — old clothes, an unused piece of furniture, a box of books pulled from the shelf to make more room. When you’re heading to the thrift store, pack it up and take it with you.