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I love, love, love thrift store shopping.  I have gone thrifting since I was in college.  Everyone was into vintage clothes at that time, but many of my friends stopped shopping at thrift stores while my trips continued.  Many of the people who have never been thrifting think of thrift stores as dirty or not having anything with any kind of style.  Once I get them to set foot into a thrift store, I normally can’t get them to leave.  One of my co-workers has started wearing a lot of thrift store finds and she looks amazing!  It’s really smart to visit thrift stores while you are on vacation.  Often, people with a little more money to spend on clothes drop their designer duds off at Goodwill and Salvation Army.  Thanks!   I really appreciate your generosity.

I just recently found this post on Get Rich Slowly – http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2008/12/14/embracing-the-thrift-store-ethic-18-top-tips-for-buying-used-clothes/ There are 18 tips about shopping at thrift stores.  I have added my own tips to the bottom (19-23).   I hope these tips help

  1. Set a budget. This is difficult at first — you don’t know how much things cost. But eventually you’ll be able to tell yourself, “I’m going spend $20 today”. It becomes a game to see how much you can buy for $20.
  2. Discard your prejudices. Some people consider thrift stores and used clothing shops nasty dirty places. Some are. Most aren’t. Explore your neighborhood. Find a shop or two that you like, and you’ll be hooked.
  3. Go with a friend. It’s good to have a second opinion. Your friend may have an eye for what looks good on you — and vice versa.
  4. Try things on. Sizes vary widely between manufacturers and even by eras. (Today’s clothes have looser fits.) But go in knowing your general size and measurements. Note that some places don’t have dressing rooms, so it’s smart to wear a modest thin layer in case you need to strip down in the aisle.
  5. Examine each item thoroughly. It sucks to get home to find your new shirt has a hole in the pocket. Or that the slacks you thought were a steal actually have a broken zipper.
  6. Check washing instructions. You don’t want to pay $3 for a silk blouse if you’ll never dry-clean it.
  7. Use the tags as a guide to find quality brands you like, but don’t limit yourself. Sometimes a brand you’ve never heard of can yield a favorite piece of clothing.
  8. Think layers. Maybe that shirt with a stain on the sleeve has a great collar for wearing under a sweater. For $3, you can afford to buy a single-purpose shirt.
  9. Use thrift stores as a way to diversify your wardrobe. Buy colors and styles on which you normally wouldn’t spend much. Wear the new clothes a few times to see how you like them, and to gauge the reaction of others.
  10. Used clothing stores are great for certain accessories. Why pay $30 for a new belt in a department store when you can get a better belt in your size for just $2? I like to shop at second-hand stores for hats. (Nice hats.)
  11. Look for clothes new with tags. Sometimes unsold department store inventory finds its way to used clothing stores and thrift shops. You’ll generally pay more for these items, but not much.
  12. If you won’t wear it, don’t buy it. You don’t save money buying a $3 shirt if it just sits in your closet for two years.
  13. Wash clothes when you get them home.
  14. Watch for sales. Used clothing stores (and thrift stores) run periodic specials. Our favorite local store just ran a half-off sale. The local thrift stores often have specials on certain items.
  15. If you go to the same store often, ask when they rotate stock. Stores get new shipments regularly. Most also have extra stock in storage. If you become familiar with the owners, you might even ask them to keep an eye out for particular items.
  16. Take your time. At normal clothing shops, everything is neatly organized. Not so at most thrift stores. When thrifting, it’s more important to be patient, to browse the racks methodically.
  17. If buying used clothes becomes a habit, institute a “one in-one out policy”. Every time you bring home something new, get rid of something old. (Give it away, take it to a thrift store, or save it for a garage sale.)
  18. Have fun! Buying used clothing can save you money. It’s also a fun way to kill a Saturday afternoon. At $3 an item, you can afford to be adventurous sometimes.
  19. Keep an open mind. If you go into a thrift store with one particular item in mind, you are not going to find it.  If you go thinking that you need shirts, sweaters, pants or children’s clothing, you are more likely to find items you like.
  20. Tag team with friends or family. My  We tag team by looking for what the other person is looking for.  It makes it much quicker and we have a lot of fun finding things.
  21. Know your designers.  When you can’t try clothes on at a thrift store, I find it much easier to know which designer fits me best.  I know that a certain size or style in a particular brand will fit better than most.  I also know what types of style look better on my frame.
  22. Wear light clothes that will allow you to try things on. I wear a light t-shirt or tank top in the summer to try shirts and sweaters over.  I know some people who wear bike shorts or something to try pants on over.  It helps when you can’t find a dressing room.
  23. Don’t forget to check out the appliances and furniture. You never know when you are going to find that really great deal you weren’t even looking for.