Thursday, February 21, 2013

OTS Mailbag : Jenny


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On Feb 12, 2013  Jenny wrote:

Hi! I came across your blogs on thrifting and was wondering if you could share some of your favorite thrift stores around Cincinnati? I’m new to thrift shopping and was hoping to do some exploring.
Thanks!
Jenny

Jenny:

I'm so glad you're finding your way into the wonderful world of thrifting! I won't lie to you, there are a ton of "ups & downs" when it comes to thrift stores. Fortunately you don't have to be some kind of aficionado to have good luck with your finds. Cincinnati isn't a terrible place when it comes to thrift stores....but I've learned this city takes a bit more patience & digging than others. 

While any local Goodwill seems like a smart move, they're typically more "miss" than "hit" when it comes to anything that isn't a book.  Every now & then you might get lucky enough to find a cute frame (once you change the terrible picture it already holds), or even a piece of furniture. Shoes are usually in sub-par condition & clothes are mostly basic t-shirts/bad 80's clothes (the ever-present demons of thrifting, somehow magnified at most Goodwill stores). The location in Tri-County does have a small jewelry/accessory area inside it, which is run by a separate organization. Some of the prices are reasonable, but (for the most part) you're better off leaving this area to a local TJ Maxx. The biggest redeeming quality of Goodwill (aside their obvious contribution to the community) is that their website shares a calendar for you to view any discounts for specific days. Speaking of TJ Maxx, stay away from Goodwill's Montgomery branch "boutique"...while they carry more brand names, they charge prices similar to TJM for their used merchandise (definitely a rip-off).

Though the inside can sometimes look discouraging, the Valley Thrift Store in Reading is one of the better in the area. While I have had many occasions of leaving empty-handed, I've had more luck finding clothing items (sometimes even shoes) that are still BNWT (brand new with tags). They also have a wide range of denim, the most popular/stocked brands being Ann Taylor Loft & Levis. Even though the pockets were cut out, I found a pair of BCBG jeans there last week for 69 cents...I washed them & stitched the pockets shut, now they're almost as good as new (at a much better price than new). Every Monday they offer an extra 25% off purchases for their weekly "customer appreciation day"...it can be worth a stop, but plan on the place being mobbed after 1:30-2pm. If you have a free Monday I highly recommend getting there as close to open (10am) as possible. I have yet to explore their location in NKY, but that is on my "to-do" list in the next month or so.

The only other local thrift store I can think of worth mentioning is the St. Vincent De Paul on Este Ave. Don't be fooled, though...this place is pretty big, but it's definitely high on the "hit or miss" list. I'm not sure if they run any kind of specials (as I've never heard of any from them) & sometimes their prices can be a little high. It's slightly better when it comes to clothing (versus any other category) but it's still semi-slim pickings. My best luck here was 2 years ago when I found a cute plus-size Ralph Lauren button down shirt & a torn vintage Chanel shirt. Since I re-tailored the plus-size shirt into a size 4/6 shirt dress & repaired the Chanel shirt, they became some of my favorite pieces.

At any thrift store (unless you don't mind, or are trained in spotting real v. fake when it comes to branded purses) I would stay away from the purses. Honestly, just assume every major brand purse you come across is a fake unless you can be certain...because most of them are. Even thrift stores are guilty of price-jacking because of a brand image. Don't be afraid to alter clothing, either. That cute long dress could make a great mini & fabric dye is fairly easy to use on mostly anything.

Hope this helps....have a fun exploring (& share any awesome finds you come across!) :)

- Alyssa



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