Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Make the Most of Your Next Thrifting Trip

Many people, myself included, love digging through racks of mish-mashed clothing from across the decades to uncover special gems. Thrift stores can bring you unique pieces at low prices. Trends often come around again, and can be picked up for cheaper than "fast-fashion" at thrift stores. My approach to thrifting has always been pretty consistent.

Find your scene - Scout of your town or city. It may take a quick search on google and a few trips to see what stores appeal to you most, but you'll begin to see what stores appeal to you.

Look for good turn over. You don't want to be browsing the exact same racks of clothes week after week. Good stores will rotate on a system to keep stock flowing. Some thrift stores are cleaner and better organized than others. While it may be nice to have a general since of organization - the prices tend to reflect the amount of work put into presenting them to you. So if you're willing to dig through bins, you may find rock bottom prices.

Know your store - My local Goodwill isn't the cheapest thrift store I've ever shopped in, but they offer extra discounts in a multitude of ways: 50% Color tags, 99c Wednesday and Sunday, once a month 50% everything Saturday, Discounts for spending $25, student and senior discounts! Not to mention the lack of sales tax on used clothing. I've learned that my Goodwill gets many new clothes, tags still attached, donated. I've found a good percentage of the clothes are like new or are new.

Branch out - I've thrifted many places. My family were big into bargain shopping. We even hit many thrift stores and vintage shops in Gulf Shores, AL. I've gone thrifting in Nashville since it's a 'bigger city' than my little town. I've had a lot of luck, but unless I'm already heading to a new place, I tend to stick to my local shops.

Touch, Try, Buy - Thrift stores often host that "funny" smell, which usually puts my OCD into overdrive - but I remind myself I wash and so do clothes. One of the most important senses to you while thrifting is touch. Running your hands on different fabrics might find you a delicate silk top or a plush cashmere sweater. I usually run my eyes ahead of my hands for those pieces that visually catch me, but my hands may pull me back to a piece I might have overlooked.

Don't stay confined to your "size". Numbers and Letters only tell you so much about a garment. So, always look a little above or below your size. I have a good eye for what fits myself, but it never hurts to try something on if your thrift store has available changing rooms.

If you love it, don't leave it! I've had a few times where I waffled over something and figured I'd go back the next day if I really wanted it. This works in regular stores, but there is no guarantee that something will be there tomorrow. I still regret passing over the pink and green argyle cardigan a few weeks back. I got lucky a few times, but it often involved combing over the racks again since things got moved around. I've learned to either grab it or leave it.

Extra, extra - One final thing to keep in mind, many pieces may have become donated due to easily fixable "problems". A pair of pants may have a lost button. A hem may have come undone. If you're particularly handy, these can be fixed at home. If you're like me and create mayhem around sewing machines, remember your local tailor. So if you find a special piece with a minor problem, you don't have to turn it down. Get it and fix it.


  1. Woo hoo! Thrift tips from a pro. Love your recommendations, my dear. Especially the one about trying anything that looks like it might maybe possibly fit. Those size tags can be so misleading!

  2. Thanks, Sal!

    (I should also mention I just picked up 2 "new" merino wool sweaters for 99c each!)

  3. This has been a very educational post for me! I usually end up being extremely self conscious while shopping, and this probably explains my lack of success when thrifting, since I'm not digging as thoroughly as I need to! (Although I'm starting to suspect location plays a role about what ends up in your local stores...) But then again, I'm not sure why I have no luck in used bookstores. No, scratch that, it definitely location on that one! ;) Thanks for sharing these great tips though! :)

  4. Megan, this is an awesome post! You have really nailed the shopping experience perfectly!

    I totally do the touching thing - that's how I found my Prada top - and the sizing is exactly right.

  5. I love this post Megan! My mom is raving about some things she recently found at Goodwill that were new, or like new. I can't wait to check it out myself.

    I have also been trying more disount stores, like Ross. I saw the exact shirt I had paid atleast $14.oo more for at Kohl's, at Ross for like $7.00! I felt like a fool! I need to start shopping cheaper places first.

  6. Love this post! I have just started visiting thrift stores. Part of thrill for me is rummaging through the racks.

  7. If you're in the Nashville area and looking for stores the Plato's Closet in Antioch and a store called Phase II in Murfreesboro are great. They're more expensive than most thrift stores but I love shopping their discount days and clearance racks! Also, there's another one that's much more like a regular thrift store called All Things Possible that sometimes has jewels in Murfreesboro.

    If you could drop your favorite Nashville thrifts that'd be great. I haven't figured my way around there yet but I know there's a lot of them!

  8. @ Tabithia - I'm no longer in Nashville proper, but I used to love the Southern Thrift stores and the Goodwill that was in Goodlettsville that since moved to a much larger location across from Rivergate Mall.

    There's also a Plato's Closet in Goodlettsville, but in my experience the prices were too high for what I found. I have better luck with Rugged Warehouse and TJMaxx for places in that price point.

    I'm unfortunately north of both Nashville and Murfreesboro. But thanks for the recs! I'll pass on the Murfreesboro names to people I know around that area though.

  9. Nice to see I'm not the only one who shops by touch! I got a $5 cashmere sweater that way!

  10. I love this! Just sent a link to my twin, whom I've been trying to convince to thrift for 15 years. Recent score: Bloomingdale's cashmere blazer for $12, Ralph Lauren blue label skirt for $8, Frye boots for TWO dollars, James jeans for $6. Completely addicted.


Thanks for reading. Got something to say? I'd love to hear it!