Savvy Shopper: How to Navigate Thrift Stores and Score Big

November 9, 2012  |  

Thrift shopping is a very cool endeavor that not only allows you to find one-of-a-kind pieces, but is eco-friendly as you recycle clothing items; but taking the time to search for items that you like, in your size, that are still of good quality can be quite a daunting task. There are often racks and racks of merchandise to be sifted through for that one great find. Yet, taking just a few key preparatory actions can make your shopping simpler, helping you to navigate in a way that scores you the best stuff.

Do your research – Check in with stylish friends, read blogs, do Google searches, read reviews at the Better Business Bureau website, post questions on social media. Whatever your preferred method, find out where the reputable thrift stores are in your area—ones that have been in business for a while, and are known for quality merchandise with fair prices. If you want to dig a little deeper, you may even be able to find the ones that suit your style specifically—whether you are looking for high-end items, items of a certain style or even from a specific decade.

Get friendly with the owner/staff – Thrift shop owners and staff are your absolute best resource at finding the items you want. They take in the merchandise from donations, they are savvy about the history of the pieces they sell and they often know when or from whom pieces are coming. Half of the battle in shopping at thrift stores is getting to the merchandise before someone else can pick it up. Give yourself a leg up by being friendly so that you know when items are arriving—bonus if they offer to put items you would love aside for you to preview first. You’ll probably even learn a thing or two in the process about the designers you love, specific periods or collections, authenticating items, etc. depending on the store.

Look for unconventional ways to wear conventional items – Can that dress you spied also double as a top? Would that pair of men’s jeans have the perfect amount of ‘boyfriend’ style slouch? Can you rock that fedora with a feminine menswear inspired business look? Would that bulky sweater be great if it were belted? Keep your eyes open for opportunities to layer or transform items that make them look totally unique when you put your personal spin on them.

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