I’ve been thrifting since I was in undergrad at the University of Houston. I see thrifting as both a hobby and a way to save money without sacrificing my style. Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about thrifting and I feel like sharing!
1. Keep an Open Mind
I usually try to make sure that I have an open mind because I don’t want to miss any goodies. Use your imagination when you’re thrifting. For example, I almost didn’t purchase the blue dress above because I thought, “It’s gorg, but where am I ever going to wear this?!” Luckily for me, I LOVE theme parties and dressing up so I was able to wear it for Halloween one year and to a “Great Gatsby” theme gala! You never know what you will find or when you will be in need of a thrifted piece.
2. Have Patience
I know for many, thrifting can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. This is why I usually don’t thrift unless I have mentally prepared to go on a hunt for treasures. If you go thrifting when you aren’t in the mood or when you’re just feeling a little anxious, you will most definitely not have a great experience. The fun is in the hunt! So be patient and enjoy the experience. The more intricate you are in your hunt, the more you are likely to find something that someone might have missed.
3. Set a Budget and Stick to It!
Because I’m short on time these days, I usually only get a chance to thrift a few times a year. Even though I don’t go often, I still try to keep my spending to a minimum. If there is a 50% off sale, I will try to limit my spending to $20-$30…you would be surprised with how many awesome pieces you can get when there is a huge sale! Because the prices are so low, you will be tempted to go overboard and buy lots of items. However, if your money is tight, it is best to limit your splurging.
4. Be Selective
I know this kind of contradicts what I said in #1 about keeping an open mind, but you have to make a judgment call even when you do find a great piece. So many times, my friends and I have purchased items that are 3 sizes too big or need major alterations and fixing up because it looked cool, only for the item to sit in our closet for years and eventually end up in our donation box to go back to the thrift store. Unless you are sure you will make the time to get alterations done on clothing, steer clear of purchasing items that you don’t honestly think you can see yourself wearing.
5. Thrift in the Suburbs
In my experience, I have had much better luck thrifting in the suburbs. There are a multitude of reasons why this is the case, but I have reaped many benefits from travelling to the boonies and just taking a look around. For one, the clothes may be in better condition and the stores may be less crowded. My absolute favorite thrift store in D.C. is in the suburbs and I usually leave out with a myriad of treasures.
6. Thrift when You Travel
Thrifing while traveling allows you the opportunity to explore the local scene while also getting a feel for local trends. You will also find great pieces that you might not have come across in your own local thrift stores. Thrifting will also allow you more money for your actual trip instead of spending it on shopping!
7. Dress for the Occasion
Whenever I thrift, I try to wear clothes that will make it easier for me to try things on if there isn’t a fitting room or if the fitting rooms are crowded. So I will usually wear tights and a tank top with a cardigan just in case I have to slide into a skirt, dress, or button-down shirt.
8. Know the Difference Between Resale & Thrift
Some people don’t understand that there is a difference between shopping at a thrift store and shopping at a resale store. The biggest difference is usually the price. Resale stores paid for the clothes they receive, so they tend to charge more. This is common for places like Buffalo Exhange, Reddz Trading Co., and Current Boutique. The cool thing about Resale Stores is that they have already done some of the work for you by being more selective in what they carry in-store, which is helpful if you don’t have the time to devote to a full thrifting experience in a large store. Most of the items at thrift stores, like Value Village, Goodwill, and Salvation Army are donated, which trickles down to a reduction in pricing. However, the standard is very low for the items carried at thrift stores, so you will need to have more patience with sifting through some of the junk.
9. Don’t Limit Your Search to Clothing
I say this to people all the time! I have found some of the best jewelry, furniture, and houseware at thrift stores. You would be surprised some of the things people have donated. I have multiple pairs of 10K and 14K gold earrings and necklaces that cost me under $15. It’s literally INSANE!
Here is a list of my favorite places to thrift/resale shop:
Value Village/Unique: 10121 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20903
*50% sale on every federal holiday!*
Georgia Ave. Thrift Store: 6101 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011
Reddz Trading Co. (Resale): 7801 Woodmont, Bethesda, MD 20814 AND 1413 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007
Current Boutique (Resale): 7220 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814 AND 1301 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Crossroads (Resale): 2015 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Goodwill: 2030 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Women’s Cottage Thrift Store: 811 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
The Guild (great for jewelry): 2009 Dunlavy St, Houston, TX 77006
The Blue Bird Circle: 615 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77006
Buffalo Exchange (resale): 1618 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Plato’s Closet: 10516 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77043 AND 7885 Farm to Market 1960 Rd W c, Houston, TX 77070 (specialize in Professional Clothes)
Disclaimer: This is not an AD. I was not paid to recommend any of these stores.
2 thoughts on “Thrifting: A Short Survival Guide”
You’ve found some amazing things in your thrifting journey! I’m new to shopping at thrift stores. I’m surprised how good it feels to score a real bargain.
It is one of the BEST feelings to find a really great thrifted find! So exhilarating and a lot of fun!