Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top Three Excuses

At a recent get-together at my home, one of my friends complemented me on item after item in my house.
“Oh, look at this bread box! Where did you get this?”
“I love these dishes! You have the most adorable stuff. I have to know where you shop!”
And on and on she went.
Now, while I do enjoy being unabashedly praised for my impeccable style (yeah right), I have more interest in helping other people find their own impeccable style. When she asked me where I got everything, I told her that I picked most of it up at the thrift store.
She immediately made a face and proceeded to tell me that she hates shopping at thrift stores. When I asked her why, she gave me one of the three stock responses that people usually give when I ask them this question.
“Every time I go, I never find anything good. I guess they just don’t have anything for me there.”
The other two answers are;
· “I don’t have the patience for thrift store shopping. All of those unorganized racks? Forget it!”
· “The idea of wearing used clothing freaks me out! It’s just gross!”
Now, if these are the reasons for not thrifting, you are entitled to them. Maybe you didn’t grow up thrifting. Maybe you had a bad experience at a thrift store or maybe you just haven’t really tried. But I am here to tell you that you are missing out on an amazing experience and some good buys, to boot!
The First Excuse:
When I asked my friend how many times she had been thrifting, she said,
“Oh, three or four times.”
“This month?” I asked.
“No. Three or four times in my life”.
And there was the problem.
Most department stores update their stock seasonally or every three months. They might restock daily, but for the most part, they have a schedule.
Because of the nature of how thrift stores get their stock (donations) they have large amounts of new stock come in every day. Because of this, the best way to shop a thrift store is to go at least once, every week. Most thrift stores have a specific day that they make a large push to get everything out there. For the ARC, it’s Friday. Then they have ½ off days on Saturday.
For the Salvation Army, it is Saturday and for Goodwill it’s Wednesday and Saturday.
If you shop at a locally owned shop, just ask anyone who works there what day they restock. If you get in good with the staff, they might even give you the skinny on the upcoming sales!
The point is, if you walk into a thrift store once every six months hoping to find treasures, the law of averages is going to foil you every time. The rule is PERSISTANCE.Sometimes I go shopping three times in a row and I don’t find a thing and then the fourth time I’ll hit the jackpot. Just keep at it. It pays off in the end.
The Second Excuse:
When I ask people how they shop, they look at me like I’m crazy. But it is not a crazy question. Just as it is important when you shop, it is just as important how you shop.
Sometimes I go to the thrift store with a specific idea in mind of what I need. I need jeans, a cape for a Halloween costume or a piece of jewelry for a friend’s birthday. More often than not, though, I go thrifting for the joy of the hunt; I don’t know what I want but I’m determined to find a treasure. It is in these moments that if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you need to look at everything. I’ve seen people walk in the door, glance around the store, meander through the racks and walk out, ten minutes later, frustrated because they didn’t find anything. Well, they didn’t really look, did they. I mean, they didn’t even touch anything! Thrifting is not a spectators sport.
The rule here is PATIENCE.
You have to go to the thrift store with enough time to really look at the merchandise; to go through every single isle and run your hands over ever piece of clothing. Most chain thrift stores have adopted a very organized, sometimes even color coded system to organize their merchandise. This has taken a lot of the guess work out of shopping. It’s easier to look because everything is laid out for you, well sorted and organized. It’s more like department store shopping. But not every thrift store is that organized. Sometimes you have to dig for the gold, but I promise you, it is well worth the pursuit. It won’t be easy at first and you might leave the store disappointed and empty handed, but DON’T GIVE UP. Anyone can master thrifting; EVEN YOU.
The Third Excuse
Some people just can’t get over the ‘ick’ factor of thrifting.
“You want me to wear used clothing? And eat off of dishes that other people have eaten off? Sorry. No way.”
My nice answer to this is: it’s up to you. Everyone has their limits and I respect that.
My honest answer to this is: GET OVER IT. You don’t know what you’re missing.
For me it’s easy, right? I grew up thrifting. My decorating style generally gravitates towards antique/retro and my husband enjoys thrifting just as much as I do. But it’s so much more than that.
I am a dedicated thrifter because I have never had the luxury of being wealthy. Growing up, we didn’t have money to buy the new, brand-name clothes that all the cool kids had, so we did the best we could. For me, that meant developing a style that is all my own, and that is priceless.
Now that I’m older, I’m thankful to have learned a skill that comes in handy in these uncertain economical times. There is a certain amount of pride knowing that I can buy awesome clothes and home furnishings AND stay well under my family’s budget. I don’t feel cheap, gross or tacky. I feel intelligent for know what I will and won’t pay for something.
And practically speaking, it’s not gross in the slightest!
  • Before I buy any item of clothing, I inspect it thoroughly for stains, tears, pilling or misshaping. If I’m shopping with a friend, I ask THEM to inspect it, The rule here is SHOP SMART. It’s not a good deal if you’re going to have to throw it out in a week because it’s wrecked.
  • I soak dishware in bleach or soap to disinfect it.
  • I ALWAYS wash everything that I buy before I wear it. Sometimes you find clothing items or shoes with the tags still on! No one ever wore it and you’re getting it for a fraction of the retail cost! Score!
But even I have my limits:
  • I don’t buy undergarments (underwear, bras or lingerie). I occasionally buy vintage slips, if they are in good shape.
  • I don’t buy socks or swimsuits. I buy both so infrequently that I rationalize buying them new.
o I do know a gal that buys second hand swimsuits, rips out the lining in the crotch and cups, adds new lining and has a brand new (to her) swimsuit! It’s all about your comfort level and the work you’re willing to put into it.
In short, when you first start thrifting, the task can be daunting. It’s important to not get hung up on the rules or the social stigma associated with thrifting. Just have fun and let go. Take your time to develop this new-found skill. You never know. You just may find you love it.


  1. Thrifting is great when you have young kids too... they out grow cloths and shoes in a few weeks. Buying new costs around $100 every time they need a new size!

  2. Oh, man! Isn't that the truth! I don't have kids yet, but a person could write an ENTIRE blog just about thrifting for kids! It's such the way to go! Plus, when they're super young, what do they care what they wear, right? Save that money for when they're teenagers and want the brand-name jeans! ;) Thanks for reading, Jolene!

  3. If you eat at restaurants then you are eating on dishes that a lot of other people have eaten off, so that's not a good excuse! lol

    Love the blog!


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