How to Thrift Shop with Sense

Original Image by Artem Beliaikin

If you’re anything like me, you don’t like shopping, or you don’t mind shopping but you lack the “patience” especially for waiting in lines.

I’m the type of guy who’d rather pay a premium than to have to wait in lines. If I’m craving coffee, I’d go down the street and find the coffee shop with the shortest line possible. Even if that means a steeper price… Hell I’d gladly spend double or triple the price for that coffee!

When Black Friday, Christmas, and Boxing Day sales come around I’m nowhere to be seen. Thank God online shopping is a thing right? Now I can spend even less time shopping.

I just simply don’t like waiting in line to save $30 on pair of pants.

I know that some people out there get off on that kind of thing.
There’s something in people’s psychology that makes them feel amazing when they find out they got such a great deal. Even if it’s only $2 off a purchased item.

When I was 18 I worked at a clothing store. The amount of people that would come in looking for a sale is ridiculous. Some wouldn’t even come in unless something was on discount. We used to sell clothes on clearance that went on for $1.97. (Keep in mind the regular price for something like this would have been $15.) And yet… they still won’t buy, unless it goes for $0.97. Crazy right? Thats over 90% off! I guess some people just shop for that feeling. Maybe that’s why they call it retail therapy.

The way I look at it, people who do that are idiots…. (but, maybe I’m the idiot.)

I mean all those savings add up right?

Thats where Thrift Stores come in…

Luckily for me, thrift stores are hardly ever busy! There’s no waiting in line like you would at a regular store. The truth is that “most” people don’t shop at thrift stores.

I’m going to be honest, they aren’t the most appealing stores. Hence that’s probably why they don’t seem to be that popular…

They tend to have this stigma to them…

A dirty, negative, unorganized, bummy, welfare, poor type of vibe. They aren’t exactly eye candy.

I remember one time I walked into a thrift store with my dad and the first thing I noticed was this stale, cardboard, dead-smelling air that came over me. We went for some “dirty” outdoors clothes, that were going to get dirty anyways. This was my self imposed stigma as I would only go to the thrift store for clothes I didn’t care about.

I also didn’t like shopping and sometimes still don’t because growing up, I was always rushed. It just seemed like a chore that took the fun out of it all. I remember talking to someone about that, and they recommended that I go to the clothing store just to browse, nothing else, not being forced to buy anything. That this could break that stigma that I was at the store because it was an errand, something I had to do rather than something I got to do.

Basically every time I walked in, I felt this negative feeling come over me, that I was super poor or something. (I grew up struggling and I hated that feeling), and when I tried on a pair of jeans I felt gross – the fact that someone else was wearing them before me. The thought that their sweat had seeped into the fabric. Thats just how I thought growing up and it gave me those preconceived notions and prejudices of thrift stores.

Now that I’ve grown up I came to realize that, it’s just silly. (Back then I even remember my dad told me that when all the clothes came in, they washed them all with disinfecting chemicals so that I would shut up and put them on. These days I’m not exactly sure if thats the case, but guys we have washing machines for a reason.)

The truth is that thrift stores aren’t quite the slum I used to think them to be. They are actually GREAT PLACES to buy clothes.

Thrift stores actually carry name brand clothes. I’m talking high end, designer stuff here. Clothes that can cost close to or more than $100. Thrift stores don’t seem to be such a bad place after all. They can actually be a gold mine!

You can get the good clothes for 75% less than the cost that it would be new. I found multiple (high end) pairs of jeans that would otherwise cost hundreds. I found Levi’s and even non-standard styles like athletic fits. Once I found a pair of Buffalo Jeans, brand new with the tag still attached. Regularly priced at $130, and I snagged them for $24.

With this being said, I am no expert but here are some things you need to keep in mind and look out for.

To start, I would not go in expecting to find anything good right away. It’s hit and miss and requires a lot of patience. It’s definitely not the place to go to find an outfit on short notice. This doesn’t mean go and shop for a night out or an event the day of or close to it!

Thrifting is a thing you’d want to do on your downtime. When you go just to see… you’ll find that when you aren’t expecting anything thats when you’ll find the gold. It’s funny how that works. Just picture it like a treasure hunt.

I would suggest that you go early in the morning as you’ll want to have as much time as possible. Spend at least an hour in each store. You might even need to go to multiple stores, so plan ahead!

Thrift where you live. Avoid going to stores located in a seedy neighbourhood, chances are if the neighbourhood is seedy, the clothes are too. Instead try the wealthier neighbourhoods.

Also, keeps your eyes open when you’re travelling – thats one of the best times to thrift because you never know what you might find.

Now you’re going to want go through the entire store. A lot of the time things are hiding in places you wouldn’t expect. Often things are mis-placed, (like the gems) and put in sections that they don’t belong. A previous customer might have liked that particular item and then later ditched it in another part of the store. (I guess one person’s treasure is another’s indecision.) Or maybe they’re just hiding items for themselves later.
For example, you might find a men’s shirt in the boy’s section or a woman’s shirt in the girl’s section.

Brands and styles can differ in size so often a medium could be as big as a large or vice versa.

You’re going to have to sift through everything so make sure you stay optimistic because it can get annoying. Remember to look for the potential in the clothes. Picture ways you can wear them as outfits and even if you can alter them.
e.g., If you want an edgy look you can take normal jeans and “upgrade” them to ripped jeans.

Finally, you should Inspect your new found riches for unwanted rips, stains, and holes. You don’t wanna buy damaged goods! Also stay away from swim suits, thats just gross. (I seriously, don’t know how they even find their way onto racks.)

Thats all there is to it!

If you know what you’re doing, you can stunt on your friends wearing designer clothes without them ever suspecting they are thrifted. Just because you have nice things does not mean you’re rich, it just means you spend your money poorly.

Don’t mistake price for quality, usually you get what you pay for, & if you spend more money on something, usually its going to be of better quality but a lot of times products are over priced to cover overhead costs. Some products out there are not worth it, they are actually not even good quality for the price you pay.

A lot of stores sell you cheap crap, favouring fads that have you coming back, keeping them in business because the quality simply doesn’t last!

There’s nothing wrong with refreshing your style but when it gets super expensive and you find yourself keeping up with Mr. and Mrs. Jones there could be a problem. Instead express your own style and you’ll stand out even more. Go for correct fit, garment quality & versatility.

In fact I recommend refreshing your style, but you should have a wardrobe that can go well in any occasion and any environment. You want clothes that allow you to easily mix, match and change up – keeping your style fresh.

Heres a little tip. If you find some great stuff but you feel that you’re still not liking how you look, you might want to hit the gym and improve your physique. Clothes should accentuate your image, look at it as an extension of you, it’s your expression. Who knows, you might even feel better about yourself when you look in the mirror…

Leave a Comment