It seems as though thrift store shopping as suddenly become all of the rage! Consumers are starting to figure out that deals are to be found at thrift stores, and some serious money is to be saved. Name brand clothing and accessories can be snagged for mere pennies if you know where to look, and you can dress your best for less while finding unique pieces you may not be able to find elsewhere. If you have never shopped at a thrift store before, you may not be sure where to start and become intimidated. But the truth is, you don’t have to be. Shopping for second hand clothes can be frugal and fun, and make you feel like you have a giant closet at your disposal. If you have wanted to build up your wardrobe for less, take a look at these thrift store tricks and learn how to shop for second hand clothes.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time, effort, or money when you shop for second hand clothes. And in the end, you will still end up with some wonderful selections at a great price. Take a look!
1. Know your options.
Do you know where all of the thrift stores are in your town? Do a Google search or check a local directory to find all of the thrift stores in your area. Chances are you have at least a few, and you don’t want to miss out on a single one. Ask your friends which ones they like to visit, or look for customer reviews online to find some favorites in your area. While all have a huge selection of clothing, it seems like the stores near the most populated sides of time have the biggest selection and get the most frequent deliveries.
2. Discover the discounts.
Many thrift stores offer a weekly sale color, where all items with a certain color tag are a percentage off. Many also offer discounts if you are a senior or student, or on a certain department that day. Thrift store prices are low, but when you shop with discounts they are even lower. Be sure to ask an employee about their discount policies and save. Comb through the clothing and look for the discounted colors and stock up.
3. Pick piece by piece.
Shopping for clothing at a thrift store requires patience. There is typically so much to see and you won’t see it unless you go piece by piece through the racks. Pieces tend to get hidden and pushed back, so pick a row and go through it by piece so you don’t miss a thing. It can feel tedious at first, but once you get going you are sure to find some hidden treasures.
5. See the light.
Before purchasing any clothing items second had, hold them up to the light. Look for common stain areas such as the under arms and neck and collar. Make sure all of the buttons are in place and the zippers are functioning. Look for loose threads or pilling. Such flaws may be deal breakers if they can’t be easily corrected, so take your time and go over the piece with a fine tune comb for flaws and save your money if the piece is not up to par.
6. Look for labels.
A label can make a clothing item worth its weight in gold. Be sure to check labels and see who the maker is. If it is a name brand, your item will retain more value. Should you choose to consign it later, you will get more for it since it is a well known, quality maker. Check the necks or shirts and waist of skirts and pants to see who the designer is. Remember that the bigger the name, the better the find.
7. Don’t forget your feet.
Thrift stores carry a huge variety of shoes, and if you are lucky you can find plenty of gently or never worn foot ware. Look for a few things such as the maker, the treads, the cleanliness of the inside, and the outer condition. Avoid anything with scuffs, weak treads, damaged hardware, or dirty insoles. Opt for gently worn pieces with a name brand and really get more bang for your buck.
8. Have a ball with bags.
Looking for a new handbag to go with your outfit? Thrift stores have a plethora of purses just waiting for you and they tend to be in great condition since women change their purses out often. Look for labels, and check the handles and hardware for wear. If there is a little dirt or grime, most purses can be machine washed and made to look like new. If you just want a bag you are going to use once or twice for an event or weekend getaway, a thrift store is the perfect place.
9. Find the fitting rooms.
There are changing rooms at most thrift stores, so take advantage of them. Different brands fit differently, and if the pieces have been washed a few times they may have shrunk. Try all of the pieces you want on, even if they say they are your size. You don’t want to be stuck with clothing that does not fit.
10. Know the return policies.
Some thrift stores offer returns or at least exchanges if the tags are still attached, but many only offer a final sale. Be sure you know these policies before purchasing any items. If you get it home and run into any problems, your only choice may be to donate it back.
Once you get your pieces home, take a moment for a fashion show and to pay yourself on the back for your fabulous finds! Now, a quick trip through the washing machine on a gentle cycle is all you need to get your items ready for wear! Enjoy your new to you clothing, and enjoy the fact that you bought it for just pennies.
Second hand clothing can be a fun and frugal way to stretch your budget. Hit up your local thrift shop this weekend and see what you can dig up.
Katie Femia is a wife and mother of three. She loves vintage finds, handmade goodness, the frugal life, and the long road to publication. You can find her at The Savvy Luna Bugg, the blog for frugalistas seeking simplicity through a handmade and vintage lifestyle.
Sue Dodson says
My husband and I are retired and living on much less money. We shop carefully. We have Nearly New Stores that is where we can find name brands. They are not that inexpensive. They do have sales but rarely. You make many valid suggestions. I will not wear used underwear, period.
Always try on everything. You can’t depend on labels. I make rag rugs and buy cotton articles for them. Larger sizes are great for this.
Also, extra large jeans and some childrens are great for remaking into a multitude of garments. Bibs, purses, placemats, potholders this list is nearly endless.
Good searching for you. We have a special style of tables in our living room. My husband found a matching piece for 20% of what we paid new. Excellent condition. We were very pleased with us!