Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seven tips for Thrifting

It's been entirely too long since I have been thrifting. So in hopes to inspire myself to hit the racks soon (maybe even as early this weekend when my friend Emily from Redesign That comes in town!), I thought I could create a post with a few helpful tips that always help me when I thrift.

1. Give yourself plenty of time. I think this is the number one reason I haven't been able to go thrifting in a while. You need lots of time to sift through all of the great finds in a thrift store, especially if it's clothing you are searching for. I personally like to give myself at least two hours to spend at the Salvation Army thrift store here in Birmingham. If you are visiting multiple stores, or a pretty large store, you might need even more time than that.

2. Go in with an open mind. This is not a department store or a designer boutique. It's a thrift store filled with old clothes, furniture, etc. It's most likely not going to be very clean and it will probably smell musty at best, but as long as you have this in mind when you enter the door, your expectations will be right where they should be to give you an enjoyable thrifting experience.

3. Stay focused champ. Know what you are looking for when you enter the doors, whether it's knick knack decorations for your home, or a certain piece of furniture, or a mod dress, or any clothes for that matter. Having some type of focus, and sticking to only spending time looking for those pieces, will make tackling the thrift store a little less overwhelming.

4. Look at the labels, but don't use them as absolutes. If you're shopping for clothing, be sure to look at the labels to know what you are buying. You can usually tell how vintage something is just by what the label inside looks like. If you like a piece, it's not necessary to get "hung up" on whether it's truly vintage or not, but it might also help you weigh whether the price or the condition it is in makes the piece worth purchasing or not. Also, sizing is never accurate so be sure to look at as many of the racks as you can. You could either miss something because it was placed in the wrong section or because a size 10 in 1960 might not quite the same as a size 10 now.

5. Stick to your initial instincts. If you come across a piece of clothing, no matter how wacky it might look on the hanger, and for whatever reason you are drawn to it....TRY IT ON. I can't tell you how many times I have picked up ten or so items to try on, only for none of them to look right on me. But then I'll go find some weird dress that I couldn't forget about, try it on, and it looks smashing and it's the only thing I walk away with. This doesn't happen every time, of course (there have been many more laughs at these items than successes, I am sure!) but it's always worth giving it a shot!

6. Spend some time with your item before you head to the cash register. If it's a piece of clothing and you are trying it on, stand around for a sec in the dressing room while wearing it, and even sit down if you can. This way you give yourself time to find anything you don't like the longer you wear it, like if it itches, or gathers some place weird on your body. Also look items over for tears, stains and malfunctioning zippers or other closures. Sometimes you can wash out a stain or replace a button or zipper, but at least you can use these discoveries to again decide if the garment is worth purchasing or not. Same goes for any blemish on furniture, etc.

7. Be in the know. And by this I mean, first find out which thrift store in town is your favorite, if there's more than one. Then learn their hours of operation and their promos. Some thrift stores have certain days where all clothing is half price. Most all use color codes for pricing and give percentages off based on what color the price tag is. Then other thrift stores will discount furniture a certain percent after how long it has been sitting in the showroom. Each stores promos are different, so do your research to find out how you can score the absolute best deals.

Hope this helps!!! Happy thrifting!


bonbonmilk said...

Hey Christen! This is your friend Caroline that went off to South Korea for a year. I'm coming back in 2 weeks and if you ever need a thrifting partner I'd be down. Oh by the way I've been lurking your blog for a while using my gmail reader and thought that I should say hey lol. Anyways I like your blog and I hope I can see you sometime when I'm back in town :)

Morgan said...

Wow, you hit all the nails on the head! I like to think that I am a thrifting professional, and so are you! And you're totally right, you need to devote time to it. People go in for 20 minutes and they give up and leave and I just think it so silly because if they just really looked they'd be surprised. Great post!