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Hobby, Leisure, Lifestyle, Money

Thrifting 101: Tips and Tricks

Written by Lily Yuan
Full-Time Student
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First off, what is thrifting? According to Wikipedia, it is the act of shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, flea market, or charitable organization, with the intent of discovering interesting items at a cheap price. Thrifting can also be a past-time hobby that is both rewarding and energizing. Each piece of attire is unique, and each one bought is helping to save the environment. Some thrift for profit, others thrift for personal style, and yet even others thrift just for the sake of it. Whatever the case, it’s always a win-win situation.

Here are some tips and tricks accumulated over the years as a self-proclaimed amateur professional thrifter.

1. Go with a goal, but don’t limit yourself.

You may have 20 black shirts, or perhaps 50 pairs of leather boots, or countless designer bags. Is it a good idea to continue adding to that collection? You decide! For every thrifting trip, it is always a good idea to come in with a vague list of items in mind (e.g. autumn scarves, sweaters, and cardigans). However, it is more than possible that you may come across a magnificent piece that doesn’t fit into the list, such as a gorgeous pair of sunglasses. Does that mean you shouldn’t make the purchase? Absolutely not! In fact, most off-season attire are priced competitively in order to sell them during the off-peak seasons — leading to additional savings.

In short, go with a mental list, but be open-minded to unique, random items that may spark your interest.

2. Thrifting gear is a must!

No, not a helmet or steel-toed boots — no one’s going to be injured. Thrifting gear is essential, as you simply cannot foresee how busy the store will get on a certain day (and definitely have this handy for those sale days!). It consists of form-fitting, comfortable clothing that can easily have additional clothing worn over it, so that you don’t have to spend extra time waiting for change rooms. Don’t go sockless; instead, wear relatively thin socks (or better yet, bring an extra pair), so when trying on footwear, sanitary issues can be reduced.

3. Bring Cash

“That’s a cute shirt! Only four dollars? What a steal!” Before you know it, you’ll be crossing your pre-existing budget in no time. Since the items in a thrift store are (for the most part) very reasonably priced, it is easy to assume that each item won’t make too much a difference in the final total. However, like dollar stores, this gives a deceptive illusion of frugality, when in reality, the numbers add up quickly. To avoid feeling guilty of overspending (happening often with bank cards), take it from Macklemore and just bring the bills:

“I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket…”

4. Familiarize!

Every thrift store is different: from items in stock, to hours, to stock days. Don’t be shy, and be sure to politely inquire a sales associate concerning how the store is run and when its inventory is being replenished; ask about sale days and if any membership discounts exist. Once a relationship is established with the employees at the store, communication becomes much easier, and sometimes, they will let you know of special upcoming sales that aren’t available to the general public.

Talk about customer loyalty perks!

5. Enjoy the moment.

It sounds cliche, but it is true. It may be of great pleasure to get caught up in the potential number of dollars saved and the feeling of fabulous frugality, but the best thing about thrifting is the happiness and unpredictability of the treasure hunt. Take in your surroundings. Look at the splashes of surrounding color. Feel the various textures of the fabrics. Listen to the ambient chatter of fellow thrifters. Even if you come back with an empty bag at the end of the day, the experience would have still been fulfilling nevertheless.

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Relax. Thrifting is a journey, not a battle.

It’s time to start the search!

Featured photo credit: The BlueGrass Situation via bluegrass-assets.s3.amazonaws.com

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