Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tips For Thrifting


   Type "thrift shopping" into any search engine & you'll be shown pages (upon pages) of results...places to go thrifting at in your local area (or any other "local" area across the country/globe), reviews of specific merchants, or basic styling tips from "serious thrifters." While I do not consider myself to be one of those "serious" thrifters, I have definitely come to know the art of thrifting fairly well. And yes, kids, it IS an art.
   I've grown to appreciate the Mid-West/East Coast thrifting...considering the fact that most West Coast thrifting is labeled "vintage shopping" (& priced much higher due to this). After many thrift shop "attempts" in San Diego & Los Angeles, I've learned that unless you visit those "vintage" stores you're left with (mostly) damaged goods. And not in the "hey, I can fix that & make it pretty awesome" sort of way. Let's be honest...I don't want to pay $50 for a ratty t-shirt (that's mostly holes) just because you call it "vintage."
Here are a few guidelines I follow, these days, when I go thrift shopping....

1. Much like you might for the grocery store, make a list!
I try to restrict my trip buys to things I can use for potential (current) projects - pictured above is a list similar to one I used recently. To keep myself "on task" I list items by type (i.e. "clothes", "jewelry", etc.) & write sub points to keep in mind with each category (i.e. "look for: print pants to turn into shorts", etc.).
2. Know the thrift store you're shopping at!
There are a few thrift stores in Cincinnati that I've been going to off & on over the last few years. Being somewhat of a regular, I've seen the changes in people, merchandise, & even store methods/policies. At one particular store I frequent, when they first opened they held specific specials each day...green tags meant 15% off on Tuesdays, red tags meant 20% off on Thursdays..you get the idea. After their own "trails & tribulations," the current discount they offer is a 25% off discount on Mondays (& the occasional $5 off coupon in the local paper). To take advantage of this, I try to limit my trips to this location to Mondays...&, since I know a lot of people have the same "discount day" idea, I make sure that (if I go) I'm able to go as close to their opening time as possible.
3. Know your prices!
Yes, contrary to popular belief, it is possible for your thrift store haul to be completely overpriced. Thrift store shopping is meant to be a great resource for saving money on finds you normally wouldn't...& it's still possible for thrift stores to use pricing ploys to make you think you're getting a deal, while getting more money out of you than you realize. There's no reason to be paying $45 for a fake Gucci purse at a thrift store. There's also no reason to pay $30 for a single pair of shoes that are pretty beaten up, just because the shoes could be found at DSW. Unless there is an original sales tag on the item (for the store it originally came from) showing a good discount, don't take the thrift store's word for it. Always take into account the current condition (& lasting ability) of the item you're looking at. Another big example is dishes...people usually end up donating their dishes to thrift stores when the pieces to their sets break. And a thrift store doesn't think twice about turning a 24-dish fancy tea/luncheon set into 6 separate 4-piece sets priced at $5-$7 each. (I've seen it happen plenty of times.)
4. Set a budget!
Even though we all know that plenty of people who "don't need to thrift" do, that doesn't mean that you have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on everything just because you might be getting a "good deal." I know that, at times, it's pretty easy to get a little carried away if you're lucky enough to have a "good find day"...but this is exactly where the previous planning helps your budget. Making sure you only buy what you need/will definitely use helps keep your tally in check...& ensures you won't tack an extra $20 on because of last minute temptations. Just as an example, (the last time I went thrifting) I set a limit of $25 for myself. When I found an item that would've pushed me over my limit by $6, I negotiated with myself: you could get this/this/this/this, & probably not use the last "this" despite it's epic cuteness...or get this/this/this & save that extra money for lunch. (Needless to say, lunch won.)

5. Be reasonable!
One of my favorite things to do (when thrift shopping) is to find items I can alter into something else. I love being able to change things I can't use into things I can...& when I complete such a task, it's a pretty confidence boost. The thing is...I tend to take on a bunch of projects all at once, which monopolizes my time for each individual project I'm attempting. My personal motto when thrifting is "S.C.A.B."
As unappealing as it sounds, trust me, it's not meant to be some gross thing.
"S.C.A.B." stands for:
Sew
Cut
Alter
Be reasonable
"Sew/Cut/Alter" is my reminder to not be afraid of a potential project. "Be reasonable" is my reminder to be realistic about any of those potential projects...especially the likelihood of actually doing that project.

Either way, we all get something different out of the thrifting experience...& I won't be one to "poo-poo" on yours. These are a few tips I use to get a better experience...& hopefully they'll help yours, too.

Any other tips? Email them to me at  OneToSpare@gmail.com  & I'll share them.

Happy thrifting!
-  Alyssa Marie

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