Monday, February 20, 2012

How I Shop The Thrifts...Get In, Get Out

Tag-On Loft Dress
When I tell people I thrift for most, if not all of my clothes, most reply with~I just don't have the time to look at the thrifts. I can see where people might think this. Here is this big store with everything from clothes to cleaning supplies and items ranging from current to back from grandma's time. Why have to sort through all of it? Why not just go to the mall, right?

I say~just go! Go thrifting, park at the door, and have all of your favorite store brands under one roof, all on the cheap! No searching for mall parking, dealing with the crowds, and roaming from store to store to find the bargains.

Dana Buchman
We are all busy, so I have a couple of tips to get in and out of the thrifts...quick. 

If you are looking to get in and get out, ditch the cart. This allows you to maneuver easily in narrow aisles or crowded areas.

When I thrift for clothes, I do not flip through each hanger. Now, I know my fellow hard core thrifters are shaking their fingers at me, but I don't have the patience for this. Might I miss a bargain? Sure, but there is always next time.

For me personally, I skim and do an initial edit right at the rack. I walk up and down each aisle slowly, focusing on one side at a time. Think of the fabrics and colors you like and look for those as you skim. When you see something that fits your criteria, pull the garment off the rack and do what I call an initial edit. Check the arm pits for holes or stains and do the same for the rest of the garment. If there is *minor* piling and you have a fabric shaver, fine, but if it is anything beyond minor, put it back. Also, glance at the tag, are you willing to pay that price for this piece? If yes, it's going to the fitting room. If not, right back to the rack, why waste the time trying it on? Be brutal in your editing process. Now move on to the next piece!
Tag-On Express Trouser
Let's talk jeans. If you are looking for tag-on clothing, these can be the easiest to spot on jeans at the thrifts. How so, you ask? My friend Tina Shake over at We Sell On Ebay blog taught me to skim the racks while hovering above the hangers and looking downwards (I have to stand on my tip toes). This way you can easily spot the paper tags that they attach to the top of the waist band. And if that is missing, the original price tag that is attached to the label is also easy to spot. If you don't care about the tag-on part, then it is still easy because you know what wash you like right? Well, scan and look for your wash-type and that drastically narrows the field, then edit at the rack.

Need a dress? Dresses have their own section at the thrifts. Many only wear a dress a few times before donating it, so they are typically in excellent condition. I have found Diane Von Furstenberg for 8.99 and designer label Hilfiger for 5.99!

Now try on your fabulous finds. Again, be brutal! Did you find a tear? Does it not fit quite right? Ditch it! Even if it is only 99 cents. Friends, you can find clothing at the thrifts in perfect condition and sometimes even brand new, so there is no reason to settle for an item that doesn't fit quite right even if it is cheap.

Steve Madden
When to thrift? Any time that it will fit into your busy schedule. Have an hour lunch? Locate your nearest thrift and eat your sandwich on the way, then shop! Have time between work and that dinner with friends? Run to the thrift! Have kids? Hit the toy section first and let them pick out a toy to play with while you quickly skim the racks!

I hope this has inspired a few of you to visit your local thrift store. Trust me, the first time you find tag-on Dana Buchman or nearly-new Via Spiga on the cheap, I promise you will be hooked on the thrifts!
If you are new to thrifting, what questions do you have? If you are already a thrifter, share a quick tip to help new thrifters get started!


  1. Great post Rachael! I don't tend to buy clothes at the thrift because I find it overwhelming, but if I do, I totally use this method! I usually shop for my clothes at other kinds of cheap places, like the Nordstrom Last Chance they have in Phoenix. Whenever I am in town I love to hit it up, and I have to use this method there, because a lot of time their clothes will have holes and stains! Take care girl!

  2. I have really streamlined my process (though when I take my kids with me, they wouldn't agree). Goodwill usually puts clothes in color order, so I skip colors I won't wear (though I will skim for cashmere sweaters I might be able to resell). It's taken a while, but I think I'm finally getting the knack! I can be in and out in 30 minutes. I have 4 kids, I homeschool, and I still find time to thrift. When there's a will, there's a way! Another suggestion is to shop off season. You are probably going to find some beautiful sweaters if you shop in July, and some nice summer dresses if you're looking in December.

    1. you are right, where there is a will there is a way...even with 4 kiddos and everything else going on you still find time, good for you and thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Great strategy Rachel. I've always been a bit overwhelmed by the clothing racks at the thrift, but will have to think about your pointers the next time I go in. :)

    1. i find the dresses to be the easiest section to take on because it is usually a smaller section...good luck on your next trip! stop by the fb page and show off whatever you find :)