Monday, July 2, 2012

How to Score at Thrift Stores...Part 1

      I.Love.Thrifting. I'd say I get at least 75% of my clothing from some type of Thrift store. I love not only the unique pieces I get there, but also the satisfaction that I paid at least 90% off retail, with my entire outfit often coming to less than a Venti latte. So starting this week I'll be sharing some things I've learned from shopping at Thrift Stores.

        Find Your Favorite Stores
              If your a total newbie, the first thing you'll need to do is check out what's in your area.  is a great resource for finding local charity run thrift stores.Just search by your zipcode. There are even reviews by other users. I love that I am also supporting a great cause when thrifting at these places, instead of some huge chain. Also try Yelp and search "thrift" or "consignment" to see what the locals favor. Speaking of consignment...
          Thrift or Consignment- What's the Difference?
                  A thrift store is often charity run, or occasionally a small chain. Usually there is a base price for each type of clothing. For instance $3.99 for Short Sleeved tops, $4.99 for sweaters, $5.99 for jeans and so on, and the occasional higher price for brand new or valuable items called "buyouts". Thrift stores usually take just about anything and everything. This means you'll have to root through quite a lot of junk to find the treasures(but they are there, I promise!).
                  If rooting through lots of ugly 90's sweaters to find that perfect piece isn't your thing and you have more cash to spend, consignment is for you! Consignment stores are more like boutique thrift stores. They are usually a small chain or individually owned. The consignment store buys and sells, so individuals come in with their gently used clothing or goods and the store looks through and decides what they'll take. They may pay you upfront for the items, or more often, will take the items and then pay you when they sell. Consignment stores are more like boutique thrift stores. They are very picky about what they take and it has to be in excellent condition and name brand. Most traditional consignment stores price the item,say at $16.99, originally, and then on the tag it will say what price the item will be after a certain date. So the item may be discounted down to 11.99 after 6 weeks, and then 6.99 after 8 weeks.The fact that they are paying for the items and have such quality items(and know it) is reflected in their prices.
           How to Shop At....
  • Goodwill    If you live anywhere near any type of civilization, chances are you have a goodwill. Goodwill is the most common, and they receiv many,many donations, so they will always have a large selection. This also means that a lot of other people will be going there, so here are some tips on getting the best deals. Most likely you'll have more than Goodwill location near you. Pick the ones in the best neighborhoods, as these will have the best items.First, check online or stop in a store and grab a sales calendar. This will let you know what sales are going on when. Goodwill has a 50% off day on everything at least once a week.Keep an eye out for certain days when specific items, such as all shorts or sweaters, might be 99cents-which is more like 75-80% off. Also keep an eye out for tag sales(certain items .50 cents!) and Managers Specials, which can be even sweeter! While your there ask an employee if they have any tips on the best time to come. They may put more items out on certain days and times, or have less traffic, which means even sweeter finds! Also check your local goodwill website as they may feature coupons, such as $5 off $20 or more.
  • Thrift Stores  I'm lumping all other charity and chain thrift stores into one as there are so many and they differ greatly by region. St Vincent DePaul and Salvation Army are not as well known and popular as Goodwill so they may be less picked over. Scope out the place and ask about sales and specials. Often each tag will have a color and that color will go on sale a certain day. Again, ask employees as the best days to come in. At one of my favorite thrift stores, they have 50 cent Mondays where a certain tag is only 50 cents. Some of my favorite pieces have been these 50 cent finds!
  • Plato's Closet    You may or may not have a Plato's Closet nearby, but its worth checking into. Plato's is a franchise consignment store,big sister to Once Upon A Child. This store is geared toward the teenage and college crowd, so their clothes are trendier and newer. If your looking for vintage, this is not the place! There are lots of the usual Abercrombie ,AE and Hollister hoodies and tees with free advertising splashed all over them, but I've also found some J crew and other "classier" pieces. At my local Plato's they have a bag sale 1-2 times a year where you stuff as clearance items as you can in a bag for $15. I think I got at least 25 items in my little bag last time. This is a great deal and a lot of fun! Also they'll have progressive sales or $2 clearance. I suggest signing up on their website for emails to be notified when the best sales are going on. And if you have name brand clothing you don't wear try selling it to them. They pay cash up front- not much and they are very picky, but it's wort a shot.CAUTION: These stores tend to play some trashy music. I recommend bringing some headphones with more uplifting music if you plan to stay awhile:)
  • Consignment/Boutique Thrift   Some of my local consingment stores will have a $1 rack or a 75% off sale making for some very cheap name brand clothing. I suggest finding your local consignment stores and signing up for their email list or asking about annual sales, so you'll know when you can find the best deals.  Also, if you have a good assortment of nice, name brand clothes you don't wear anymore,try taking them to the local consignment shop and you may make a little extra money! 
                                           Next week I'll talk about what to do when you get there!



  1. Absolutely great advice dear! You are a thrifting pro! (;

    1. Oh how sweet you are:) Not really, but I like to pretend I know what I'm doing. tHank you for checking out my blog!

  2. Wow, great job Laurel!

  3. Yay you have a blog!! Looks like it's going to be smashing :) I especially like this post because thrift stores intimidate me...I will have to try out some of your advice!

    1. Thank you Rachel! I used to hate thrift shopping, but I came around eventually after my mom took me enough times:) I'm still intimidated by all the choices sometimes!

  4. I love this. My question is, how can I convince my mom to let me shop at a thrift store? She thinks if I do, I will end up ill or something. I really want to get the awesome vintage and old-fashioned pieces you can find, but as of now, I am not allowed.

    1. I understand your Mom's concern Asilia. I would check with your local thrift stores and ask if they can tell you what they do to sterilize their items. At most the clothes are washed at least once, and some type of disinfectant is used. Again,if you are searching online, see what people say about the cleanliness of the place. The places in the nice neighborhoods are going to be cleaner in most cases. At consignment stores there are many items that still have tags and have never been worn! And of course washing the clothes again at home one or more times will give you confidence that they are thoroughly clean. I would talk with your mom about it and ask if you can check a few out so she can check for herself the cleanliness of the place and approve it. If it helps, I have been shopping at thrift stores for years, have been in all kinds, and never been seriously ill or had lice, bed bugs etc!
      Best of luck to you!


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