Looking for some great ways to expand your wardrobe in a way that’s good for the environment and doesn’t cost too much money? Try thrift store shopping! Here are some thrifty tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck!
The Thrifty and Thriving Lifestyle
I’m thrifty by nature and there’s something calming about combing the racks full of things that used to have former homes. Sometimes, I get poetic and wonder where they came from, how long they were there, and why they were donated. If you’ve been thinking of venturing out to the local thrift store, here are some thoughts and thrifty tips that may make your experience more productive and worthwhile!
Why Should I Choose a Thrift Store?
1. It’s good for the environment
“Fast fashion” is inexpensive clothing mass-produced by retailers, usually in response to rapidly-changing trends. Not only is this fashion quickly produced to fast-track from the runways to store shelves, it quickly ends up in landfills as trends change. More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetic and derived from fossil fuels. This textile waste in the U. S. ends up in landfills or oceans where it will never decay. No matter what material, if you’re buying clothes from the thrift store instead of new, you’re doing your part to counter the toxic fast-fashion culture.
2. You save a ton of money
Need I say more?
3. They Benefit Worthwhile Charities
Check out the store’s websites if you want to make sure you’re supporting a worthwhile cause. Some of my favorite non-profits include the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, The Disabled American Veterans, and the Salvation Army.
4. Kids Grow Out of Clothes Very Quickly
Listen, kids. never. stop. growing. I think it’s safe to say that those shorts you bought your two-year-old may last for one season, but you’ll definitely have to buy another pair when summer rolls around next year. Why buy something new that’s going to last them for two or three months?
What Kind of Stuff Should I Be Looking for at a Thrift Store?
- Kids clothes: Thrift stores are often flooded with lightly-worn kids’ clothing. Don’t worry, most stains are only from the tears of parents who paid way too much for them.
- Books: Second-hand books are great because usually, you only read them once anyway! You never know what kind of gem you may find.
- Natural materials: They’re more expensive, regardless if it’s furniture or clothing. When you see natural materials, you’re looking at a higher quality piece that will last longer and is more environmentally sustainable.
- Skirts: Skirts are my go-to thrift store item, especially if you deal with weight fluctuations (can I get an amen?). The beautiful thing about skirts is they’re fun and feminine, and if it’s an elastic band, it can be very forgiving about sizing! I’m also not above sliding the skirt on over my pants in the stores without changing rooms. There’s an unspoken rule in thrift stores that this is not only acceptable but necessary. Trust me.
- Off-season clothes: You’re more likely to score unique or quality pieces at great prices because fewer people will be shopping for them in the off-season.
- Familiar Brands: One of my favorite brands for find while thrifting is Universal Thread from Target. I know exactly how those clothes fit me, and I like how often they use natural fibers. If there’s a brand or two that really matches your style or sizing preferences, keep a sharp eye out for their tags while you’re scanning the racks.
Thrift Store Tips:
Know the colors and textures that you’re drawn to. It will be easier to spot when you’re looking through an intimidating rack of seemingly daunting chaos.
Know your size. It’s important to know your size in different kinds of clothing: shirts, jeans, pants, dresses, skirts, shoes, etc. Hold your favorite jeans up and take a good look at them. You already know how they look on you, but how would they look if you were holding them up in the store? Check out the length, waist, and hip size and get a good visual feel for them. Bring a cloth measuring tape to the thrift store if you really want to be sure!
Make sure to wear layers. This really makes your life easier if there’s no changing room. Don’t wear that thick, knitted pullover sweater with nothing underneath.
Test electronics. Almost all thrift stores have a power strip or outlet available. If not, ask an employee if you can test the product before buying it. Most stores have already tested them, but better safe than sorry.
No babysitter? Bring your kids with you! You can use the book section like a library and “check out” a book at the beginning, and return it at the end of your trip. If they love the book, you could consider the purchase! The thrift store is also a great place to shop for children’s’ books, especially if your children are younger and tend to wear and tear on their books.
Most thrift stores have weekly promotional deals. The CHKD Thrift Store has “Customer Appreciation Day” every Tuesday and customers get 25 % off every purchase! Mondays are Military Day (active or retired) and with a military ID, you receive 25 % off! Most stores also have a tag color that goes on sale each week on the same day.
Pick a strategic day: Ask when your local thrift stores re-stock so you know when a fresh batch of inventory comes in. Usually, the day before will be a high-discount day as they are trying to make room for a new wave of donations to put out on the stock floor.
One item in, one item out: If you’re anything like me, you don’t enjoy the feeling of clutter. What I like to do after I go thrifting is to scan my closet. If there’s something obviously worth getting rid of, I immediately put it in the donation pile. It’s nice to have a rotation of clothing, especially if you like to take fashion risks or try new trends.
What if my clothing doesn’t fit when I try it on at home? Goodwill and The Salvation Army usually have fitting rooms. Hey, I didn’t say it was the Ritz, but it’s just what you need to get the job done. If you’re not sure, ask an employee if they have changing rooms before you make a purchase. Also, some stores have a return or exchange policies.
The Big Idea:
Thrifting takes practice and patience. I will often take that friend who complains she “can never find anything,” and watch as she briefly scans one rack, only to get bored and start texting someone. In order to be effective, it takes perseverance, a good attitude, a little risk, and an open mind. I use it as a time to get out of the house without spending too much money. Just give it a shot, you never know what you may find!
For more family money tips and advice, check out the Money-Saving Family category on FamilyApp.