Thrift shopping is probably my favourite way to shop. It’s cheaper, you find all kinds of clothes and not just what is on trend, and it’s a great way to reuse something instead of it filling up a landfill. But sometimes thrifting can be really frustrating and feel like it’s not worth it at all. I truly think that more people should give it a shot if they haven’t, or another chance if their first visit didn’t go well. Here are a couple tips to make you more successful and find just what you’re looking for.
Wear a comfortable, light outfit
This might be the most important tip if you’re shopping for clothing. You are going to want to try on every single piece that you are considering buying. Since the clothes are pre-loved, it’s really hard to predict how the sizes you normally buy will fit. They could have stretched, shrunk in the wash, or be from 60 years ago when sizes were different. But I have never been in a thrift shop that had reasonable changing rooms. Value Village is especially notorious for this!
Basically, you want an outfit that is both easy to get in and out of quickly, but also ideally one that is light enough that you can try some stuff on over it. For example, I usually try to wear just a light tank top or undershirt. That way I can just throw any shirts, sweaters, or outwear on in the aisle and not worry about taking it back to the change rooms. A maxi skirt is useful for getting changed quickly, but leggings are good for trying on skirts and shorts in the aisle. Flip flops are also a must, so you don’t have to worry about tying laces if you want to try on bottoms.
Make sure you have plenty of time
This is going sound extremely overdramatic, but thrifting takes dedication! It’s not like a regular store where you can walk up to a shelf or rack, look at one of the items, and then either walk away or find your size. Most thrift stores are size sorted, which is useful, but pretty much every item on that rack is unique. You need to dedicate real time to sifting through each one. Sometimes you can tell from a distance, like if there are a ton of sequins or something denim that should not be denim. But you can’t just walk up and expect something you love to be sitting there waiting for you.
Don’t go in with a specific goal
I made this mistake recently. I really wanted a denim jacket. I went into Value Village, and they had about four, and none of them fit me. Instant disappointment. I figured that since denim jackets aren’t really in style but were in recent history, that stores would be flooded with them. Don’t set yourself up for failure but trying to find a specific item. Wanting a shirt would be a good expectation to set, but looking for a blue tank top is just going to let you down.
Look out for specials and sales
While thrift stores are normally really cheap options, they sometimes get even cheaper! For example, Value Village often has 50% off sales. That means that sometimes you can get certain items for a buck or two. This makes it a lot more fun because if you find something that you like but aren’t sure about whether you can pull it off or if it will be uncomfortable, it’s less of a loss to buy it and try it out. Some stores also have loyalty programs where you get access to special sales and offers. Value Village has Super Savers which not only has unique sales but gives you early access to the big 50% sales, so you can go and get the good stuff before it’s gone. Value Village also has a system where if you donate a bag of goods, you get a stamp on a card. Every stamp gives you 5% off on your next purchase!
Don’t give up on one spot
The beauty of the thrift shop is that everyone has a completely unique stock. If you go to one Walmart, you don’t need to go to another Walmart if the first one didn’t have what you wanted. But you could go to 10 Good Wills and not see the same item twice! So if the first one is a dud, try going to another one across town.
Good luck and happy shopping!