Fly11 Goes Thrifting for the First Time

It was a spur of the moment, taking the rent-a-son to have fun kind of day when I happened upon a "Goodwill" store sign near our destination. Serendipity? Probably not but I figured going into the store might be worth a try; especially considering the probability that this place was a benefactor of the nicER side of used clothes.
 Prior to that day, I had never truly shopped for ANYTHING inside of a goodwill or consignment or thrift store...nothing at all. Despite my mother's many accolades about her goodwill finds throughout my childhood, I found secondhand wearing of strangers clothing unappealing, to put it lightly. However, a build up of redundancy in the shopping malls and clothing stores will drive any fashionizer to extremes such as going thrifting for the first time in 30 years.

My first stop was an absolute bust and they had items in there at regular store prices such as $20 for a plain offbrand top...they became a tip on my list just a little lower. I quickly dialed a well respected fashionista thrifter friend of mine for guidance and she pointed me into a hopeFUL place. The day ended with only two stops but I learned a few things and scouted out a few worthy items. Continue reading below for tips on thrifting and the type of finds that makes it worth it.

Thrifting Tips from a Newbie

1. Research 

all thrift shops are almost NEVER created equal. As I stated earlier in the post, my first stop was a hopeLESS place that showcased only three short racks of clothing and most of that was actually new merchandise with an unimpressive discount. Had I assumed all thrift shops were like this I would definitely not have ever wasted my time again. Make a list of local area thrift shops based on sightings, web searches., and word of mouth and commit to making at least one visit in order to sort them out. Thrift stores with the fortitude to stand amongst many other clothing stores and even malls will probably be more pricey than you would expect or hard to find real goodies in. Try to find shops that are somehwhat isolated giving them less competition. Talking to others in your area who thrift is the most effective form of research you can do. Find the thrifters in your area and tap into their wealth of knowledge; they always know at least a few good places to get you started in.  

2. Search for Quality

resist the urge to "buy it because it's cheap." Go thrifting with a very general idea of what you are looking for and that way you will avoid buying your fifth jean skirt because it's cheap. While shopping, a lady stopped and asked for my opinion about two jeans skirts. The skirts were extremely similiar except one looked more structured and thus appeared more refined. We both agreed, the more structured skirt was the best option but the point is that she didn't jusy buy both. Keep in mind when thrifting, buying items that look like they should've been $4.99 in the first place is not finding a deal. The second store I visited had a decent selection of items but it was mostly filled with Target brands, Old Navy, and other clothing lines with known lesser quality. While these brands are capable of providing trend inexpensively, they also have a short shelf life due to the corners cut with garment construction and fabric quality. Learn the brands worth buying and find the store that seems to carry them.

3. Find a Buddy

I'm a loner by nature so shopping alone is usually my first choice but thrifting is a little different...the need for a second opinion increases thus the lady requesting one from strangers. The sheer adrenaline of digging and digging until you find gold is addictive enough but the effect increases when you have a buddy to bounce this energy off of. Seeing my friend find things she liked just gave me more motivation to keep looking. Finally, it's good to have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of when buying from thrift stores since it requires a great deal of visualizatoin.

4. Off Hours

this is sometimes too far out of our control to consider but when at all possible, shop during the off hours. I went during the daytime so while there was a few other people there with me, the place was virtually empty. Shopping when the store is least crowded gives you that much more energy to expend on searching for a treasure instead of sharing the rack nicely.

5. Go Often:

while I haven't had much experience with this tip since this week was my first trip at all, I can certainly see the need to visit frequently. You have to consider that when you find something good, you are getting it for nearly a tenth, sometimes a hundredth of the cost, and sometimes even less; so what you are not paying out of your pocket, be willing to pay with your time. I certainly intend to go again this weekend as I think I might've developed a little habit for this kind of shopping. It's fun and releases those brain chemicals that translate a "too good to be true" message when you find something you like. Oh the thrill of it all!

6. Think Unique 

I am not an advocate for shopping the thrift store for a simple black skirt because you are too cheap to just go to the mall. I think thrifting is most beneficial when it's used to express style as opposed to frugality. The assortment of trends and eras represented in a thrift store is much greater than that of a department store; utilize this to give your wardrobe more personality and flair. The insanely inexpensive cost should actually be considered an extra perk. If your first reason for going thrifting is to save money then you are least likely to emerge with any real gems. Keep in mind that while it is cheap, it is still used and if it isn't unique enough for you to have requested it off of it's original owner's back then don't bother acquiring it.

Checkout the items I liked and the few that I bought below:

Location: Mers Goodwill Stores at 14373 Manchester Road (Henry Ave)

Basic trendy Jumper style black dress. Belt it with a small pants belt of your choice and pair with a fedora hat...Lots of style potential!

The cut of the dress on the side drapes the bosom very nicely. I remember when this cut was popular but quickly disappeared. The color though opens many doors.

 There isn't a better way to say Vintage than the print and style of this dress. Unfortunately for me, it was a tad too tight so I had to leave it :(.

This much style in one simple piece is hard to find. It's the perfect option for a warm Spring day of shopping. Pair with ballet flats to complete the look or flat booties for edge.

This a seasonal item for fall so while it wouldn't get much play now, the tribal print in the dress will never get old.

A little boxy in the shoulders and bland with the cut. However it's a basic wool motorcycle jacket with just enough detail to rely on it in your wardrobe. Hey what I liked most of all, it's $5.00.

I can't explain why I loved this item so other than it's vintage appeal. All I can tell you is that I certainly left with this in my hands! 

This gray metallic finish, fron pleat skirt is made from a shiny viscose material. I bought this to pair with the vintage top above. LOVE IT!

This basic black and gray striped miniskirt is made from a woolblend that fits like a glove. The skirt is a stretchy material that makes it comfy though it is fitted. I also bought this one for it's versatility and as a backup option for the vintage top above.  

Do you have any tips or information we need to know about thrifting?

More Vincit Omnes | Fashion Conquers All


@Cali_B said...

GOOD POST! I stopped by Goodwill to kill time during a Discount Tires trip. Found some pretty cool items but YES... that take a friend tip is a good point. In the mall/dept stores I am good alone but it does take someone to help you see the potential in a item while thrifting! next trip to STL let's go!

Anonymous said...

Awesome Blog Patton......I cant wait for us to on a shopping voyage!

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