Thrift Store 101

Japanese Thrift Store

Tokyo Thrift Store by jeffk (CC BY 2.0)

Thrift stores aren’t the first thing you think of when you go out for your new school wardrobe, but in college it may be the only thing you can afford. Instead of dropping a couple hundred buck on a single outfit at Urban Outfitters, try going to a thrift store to buy an entirely new wardrobe.

Getting Schooled in the Art of the Thrift Store

Thrift Store Overview
Thrift Town by MikeR….. (CC BY 2.0)

What’s that? You wouldn’t be caught dead in a used pair of pants? Well, let me tell you something, no one cares. And I really mean that. Unless you dig through the bargain bin and find the cheapest and most outdated pair of bellbottoms in the pile, people aren’t going to call you out for that slightly faded pair of jeans. All they’ll notice is that you’re wearing something new, and possibly boho chic.

When you go to the thrift store, the main thing that you have to worry about is finding something that you like that actually fits you. You’ll often find clothes that are unspeakably perfect for you, in something three times your size. Have no fear, for the local tailor is here! Tailors can take things out or in, and make that summer dress look like it has always been your exact fit. Check for prices in your area and see if you can get the $200 pair of jeans for a total of just $20.

Thrift Store: A Lesson in Savings

Thrift Store Clothing Selection
Goodwill by Brad.K (CC BY 2.0)

So I had your interest, but now I have your curiosity. You’ll be needing to know what to expect when you walk into one. Many thrift stores have special days that carry deeper sales cuts throughout the week for certain items. This means you can walk into the thrift store, stake out what you need and then wait until the sale day for that item comes. However, this method also means risking out on losing out the item to someone else.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to buy out the whole store just because it’s cheap. It’s easy to get carried away by the sales tags and cheap prices, but don’t let it suck you in. I find that taking a list with me helps prioritize my needs. It also helps to set an absolute budget. Only have $15 to spend? Only bring $15 with you. No credit cards, no checks, no Google Wallet. Just $15.

Thrift Store Graduation

cat on top of vinyl records in thrift store
High fidelity by eva101 (CC BY 2.0)

Receiving is great, but giving is even better. When you’re done wearing and upcycling your old clothes, don’t just hoard them or stash them into storage. Give back to your favorite donation center! It doesn’t just have to be clothes. You can donate old kitchenware, furniture and electronics for families to use and enjoy.

Congratulations! You’ve graduated Thrift Store University. How does it feel to be able to smell a bargain from a mile away? Make sure to pass along your newfound knowledge to friends and family.

Do you have any more amazing tips for thrift store shopping? Let me know in the comments section!