in some of my recent IG posts about thrifting i have gotten some questions about how i thrift. i have also had a lot of comments from people about how they don't have good thrifting in their area, or that i am lucky because seattle just has good thrift shops. this is simply not the case. it is true- seattle does have some pretty awesome thrifting. no mistake about that. thrifting does get pretty great around large cities and areas where the average income is high. hello brand new looking kate spade diaper bag from palm springs.
but!!! that does not mean if you are not near a large city that you are out of luck! i have thrifted all over the place while traveling, small towns included. sometimes the best finds are in small towns! especially if you love vintage. there is good thrifting everywhere, you just have to know what you are doing. here are some of my tips for how i get my thrift on.
EAT A FREAKING MEAL BEFORE YOU THRIFT. better yet, eat before you do anything! but seriously, you need to be physically prepared for the task of thrifting. it takes physical energy out of you, as weird as that sounds. shopping in general does, at least for me. if you go on an empty stomach or when you are really tired, you are going to get frustrated or overwhelmed or elbow someone in the face. if you are not feeling up to the adventure, it can seem quite daunting, even for a self-proclaimed thrift queen like myself. go get yourself your latte or your diet coke or whatever caffeine you need to get into your system prior to thrifting. and leave that starbucks cup in the car. this is not like regular shopping ladies. you can't just expect items to pop out at you and to be able to browse. it takes picking through racks- item by item-two hands. this is how you find the good stuff, i promise.
bring a friend! if you are like me, i love shopping with companionship. especially thrifting. there is so much entertainment and it can really make thrifting seem like less of a challenge when you turn it into an experience. from the purple faux leather jacket to the nasty wig that might be a dead squirrel laying in the purse department, there is always entertainment to be had. gosh i just really sold you on the experience there, didn't i? but the people watching! oh, the people watching. it is glorious in thrift stores. bring a friend that loves to thrift or is open to the experience and i promise you will have a good time.
timing is everything. don't write off a place just because you don't find anything good on the random day you decide to go. you need to do your research. talk to employees. ask them when items are put out on the floor. usually they put items out once a week. if you aren't finding anything at a certain location it could be because you are shopping there on the wrong day. maybe you are going on a saturday night when all of the new things go out on sunday morning. if you are there days after the new arrivals get put out, you are going to miss out and be looking through things that have already been picked over by everyone else, including the professionals. when i say professionals, i mean it. i don't know about other places, but here in Seattle there are people that literally thrift for a living. they are experts at this. they know when stores put new items out and they come in and swoop up things that are label and designer at a low price and sell them to the consignment shops or sites like eBay for a profit. you must get there before they do or they are going to snatch up that vintage designer handbag that could have been yours.
find out when the sales are. stores like goodwill and value village color code their tags and have days when certain tags are discounted. i know that things that i often buy from goodwill have blue and green tags, so i look out for those days. you will save a ton of money this way. random three day weekends like president's day, columbus day and veteran's day are big sale days. that's how i scored an outfit for myself AND a coordinating outfit for ruby for under $10 total the other day.
have no shame. don't be afraid to ask about price negotiations or discounts or haggle for a better price. the pricing can be off at times. have you ever been at a thrift shop and seen a forever 21 shirt that they are trying to sell for $8? it's ridiculous. you may have bought it if it was $2, but when it is so close to the price you can buy it for new, it isn't worth it. i ask all the time why things are priced certain ways. for example, the other day i found a pair of leggings i liked for ruby. there was another pair that was very similar for $2 less. i took them both up to the counter and asked to speak with someone about pricing. usually the employee won't want to take the time to go get a manager, so they will just work with you and ask you what you want. compare the two items. don't be shy. tell them why you feel the item is overpriced. sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. it used to embarrass me to ask for discounts at a discount store. you are doing the store a favor though. they have so many items to sell and if they have something mismarked it is going to sit on the rack and eventually end up in a landfill. (OR at the goodwill bins, but that is a story for a different day. not for the faint of heart. we'll get there when you are ready!)
keep an open mind! think of the possibilities! I'm going to let you in on a little secret. this is probably going to horrify some of you, and that is okay. try to breathe through it. that pink nightgown that i was wearing in my maternity pictures on my bed? yeah...thrifted. there are certain things that i draw the line at. like underwear (i mean obviously), wigs, hats that can't be washed on hot (baseball hats are a no. beanies, maybe), pillows, things that i don't feel like i can really wash off all of the bugs and germs that my mind imagines are crawling all over them. i used to run past the nightgown section. ew, someone probably wore it nekkid right? but after i searched high and low at regular stores for something that looked soft, romantic and flowy (is that a word?) i took the chance on a nightgown that looked like something a granny probably donated. i knew it wasn't something that i would wear on a regular basis, but i don't feel bad giving it back to the goodwill after the photos since i only paid a buck for it. dolla makes me holla boo!
i hope i can make a beleiver out of you. give it a chance and let me know how it goes!
Lauren and Ruby