When did you get into thrifting, and what or who influenced your decision?
You would think that I would have more of a recollection of when I started thrifting since it’s such a major life event, but I honestly can’t remember! It was a few years ago. I had gone to thrift stores before, but I never really got into it. Then I discovered some great thrift stores in the DC area, and started thrifting all the time! I think a big influence on me was that around this time, I was majorly underemployed. It was nice to be able to still go shopping and find some great things, but not have to spend a lot of money. It was also great to be able to stock up on work appropriate attire as I was constantly changing jobs at the time, without having to spend a lot of money on new clothes each time I changed jobs (and consequently, proper work attire codes).
Describe a typical thrifting adventure for you. (Do you go solo? What time/day? Multiple stores? Quick browsing or carefully combing through racks?)
I usually go alone, but also enjoy introducing friends and family to the world of thrifting. I usually go off on my own for a bit, though, even if I am with people. I like to go in the middle of the day, as I find morning and evenings to be more crowded. I usually just do one store, because my favorite thrift store (Unique) is quite large, and I can easily spend more than a few hours in there. I usually only go thrifting when I am in the mood to carefully comb through the racks - I won’t always look at all of the racks (I often skip pants and blazers/jackets), but I do comb through because that is when you find the best steals.
Do you thrift as a primary way of shopping, or for certain types of items only? Do you find that certain items are easier or harder to thrift?
I would say that my clothing wardrobe is pretty 50-50 between being thrifted and being from “regular” stores. I don’t typically go to thrift stores in search for a specific item; if I’m looking for a specific item, I usually just go to a department store as they have a variety of styles and sizes. For non-clothing items, again, I don’t usually go to the thrift store seeking a particular item; I am more likely to be browsing the home goods or books section and find something I can use for a great deal.
I don’t think that there are items that are necessarily harder to thrift than others, but some take more patience to find (i.e. it may take longer to find a pair of red pants, if that’s what your heart is set on, but you can find them eventually). I don't often find shoes at the thrift store, partly because who knows whose feet they've been on and mostly because shoes have to fit just right - so I would say that for me it is harder to find shoes, but that isn't the case for everyone. I will say that kitchen items are always able to be found thrifting. ALWAYS. If you don’t care to have your kitchen items match or be brand new, always check the thrift store first.
Have you tried out thrifting online, such as through ebay or an online secondhand shop? If you have, how does it compare to shopping in person?
I do shop through eBay and online sites, like Threadflip. I’ve found some great items through both, at great prices. It is a little bit harder than shopping in person because you can’t try the clothes on (if that’s what you are buying), and often the hassle of returning an item to these sites is just not worth the time/money. Especially if you are the kind of person that has specific fit requirements, it’s much easier to shop in person so you can try clothes on. On the other hand, you can shop eBay in your pajamas at midnight, which is always a perk!
What types of items do you avoid buying while thrifting? What criteria do you use to sort out the “duds”?
For whatever reason, the thought of buying linens or towels at the thrift store just grosses me out. You will probably never find me buying pillows or blankets from the thrift store!
For the "duds", since I mostly buy clothes at the thrift store, I’m going to keep my answer specific to clothing. I’ve gotten pretty good at having a good eye for spotting whether or not something is good quality. I can comb through the racks and pretty quickly know if an item I like is from one of those high quality name brands (Loft, J. Crew, New York and Company, Macy's brands, etc). I try to only buy better quality brands at the thrift store, because I know that they will hold up over time. I also sometimes look for items that are high quality, but are not in my size/not my style, because these items have great re-sale value (and I can make a profit selling it on eBay).
It’s important to ask yourself a few questions when buying, to make sure you are not getting a “dud”:
- If I saw this at a regular store, either full price or on sale, would I consider buying it? (This keeps you from getting pulled in by a stellar price tag alone.)
- Is the quality of this item worth the thrift store price? (This has kept me from buying some items that I would have bought in the store, but the price was too much for the quality - i.e. a dress from Target being marked at $15 at the thrift store. No thanks.)
- Does the item look new or like new? (There is no point in buying an item - even if it is super cheap - if you are only going to be able to wear it a few times before it can’t be worn anymore - look for pilling, small stains, tears, moth holes, etc. If it has any of the above, no matter how small, it’s not worth a buy for me.)
- Does the item require special washing (i.e. dry clean only)? If so, is it worth the money you will have to pay to clean it? (To me, it is not worth it to buy a shirt that is dry clean only. However, I have bought a couple of coats and a dress that are dry clean only, and those are still worth it to me because they don’t need washed as much as a shirt would, for example.)
Share with us what you consider the greatest deal you ever got thrifting on a single item (picture please if at all possible!)
My winter coat! It is from Style & Co., which is a Macy’s brand, so I knew that it would hold up well. It is red - my favorite color - and I love the style. The coat looked like it was fairly new when I bought it. I believe I paid $10-12 for it - I can’t remember exactly, but I do know that I spent more to have it dry cleaned ($14) than I paid for the coat itself! So far, it has held up for two winters, and is still going strong!
|Can't ever lose me in a crowd!|
Share with us a complete outfit, or nearly complete outfit, entirely secondhand/thrifted (picture please if at all possible!) If you are willing and able to, you can share what this outfit cost.
I don't remember specific prices anymore, but I paid anywhere from $2 to $10 for the thrifted items!
|Green sweater (Loft) - consignment store in KY; Jean skirt (unknown brand) - Unique Thrift;|
Necklace (Premier Designs); Boots (A2) - Kohl's
|Blue dress (Land's End) - Unique Thrift; Jean jacket (Old Navy) - Unique Thrift;|
Sandals (Croft & Borrow) - Kohl's
|Skirt with pockets (Ann Taylor) - Unique Thrift; Magenta blouse (Fashion Bug) - Unique Thrift;|
Boots (Bare Traps) - DSW
|Black and white dress (Mossimo for Target) - Unique Thrift;|
Boots (Merona for Target) - Target
As you can see, I tend to find quality, versatile pieces at the thrift store, and then I buy my shoes where I can find just-the-right fit!
Are you a thrift-a-holic? I'd love to hear about your thrifting experiences, including any big tips!
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