As mentioned in the money post I have a severe addiction to thrifting. It wasn’t always like this. I would go into thrift stores and Goodwills and even the bins and come out with nothing or when I did leave with something I would wonder why I bought it about a week later.
Working at Buffulo Exchange planted the seed to change all that. Because I was working there I didn’t have to scour the racks all the time. Part of my job was making sure the racks were properly sized so while doing that I would come across things that I would have never thought to see if I had just been a customer. My previous way of shopping was to look over the racks real quick and if nothing caught my eye then I would move on to another store. Definitely a mall style of shopping… that is, before the days of Forever 21 and H&M.
I think maybe the seed for thrifting was planted even before Buffalo now that I think about it. I mean, Forever 21 was awesome in high school but it was only awesome when you took the time to look through at just about every rack to see all the different pieces they had. It didn’t mean to be a one off store but with how crazy the organization was (or lack there of) it kinda was.
Tangent… whoo, back to point…
So with Forever 21 in high school and then Buffalo Exchange, I definitely grew the inclination to thrift but still was quite shabby at it. I wanted to like it but still couldn’t spend very much time in a thrift shop. Then something switched. I don’t know when or how or why but during my time in Chula Vista I went to this one thrift shop that Unicorn Sparkle(bottom)s swore by and which I swore I would never name. There, maybe the second or third time visiting something clicked. I finally took the time to look at most of the sweaters instead of just walking through the racks hoping something would jump out and grab me. I looked through all of the stationary just in case some pieces suited my fancy. I stopped looking at books because I already had too many. My transformation had begun!
When I moved back to Portland it was on! For the last month or so I have been thrifting like crazy. Nicole is quite the enabler in this addiction, or maybe I’m her enabler… We hit the bins for hours, sometimes waking up at 6am to do so! We’ve spent many a weekend going from one thrift store to the next to quench our special-find thirst. Really, it’s a sickness. But I won’t stop!
When I first arrived and took a look around the shops with Nicole I was quite grabby. Strawberries painted on just about anything got my attention. Then I started getting a tad more picky. I’ve found a couple of blankets I couldn’t live with out and a couple of cameras. I found a good amount of dishes to stock my place when I move in (April 1st cross my fingers), and I’ve found some awesome decorations.
I have things I specifically look for now that the grabbies are out of the way. I look for the perfect vintage/retro thermos or the next book in my Dark Tower series. A goal I have yet to meet is to find Miles to Go, Miley Cyrus’s autobiography for $2 or less. I won’t buy it unless it for less than two dollars so when I’m at the bins I mentally cross my fingers. I’ve found it at Goodwill but never for under $3 so I had to walk away.
The good thing about thrifting is I get use to low prices. This helps keep me from buying a lot of expensive things in other shops. I now ignore the main portion of Urban Outfitter and go for the sale items. While I use to think Powell’s had good prices I now find myself turning up my nose at the prices of books at Goodwill. Plus you can’t find the treasures in regular retail stores that you find at the bins or the regular Goodwill stores. I know find myself getting frustrated when I think about something I need and realize I can’t find it at the Goodwill. It’s almost silly but helpful in money matters. My shopping addiction is still in tact but I put a dollar limit on most of my purchases and stick to a mental list.
While I am by no means an expert, nor do I make any sort of a living at this I would like to end this post with a few tips I’ve come to learn. Most are the sage wisdom of my enabler Nicole.
-Take your time
Even the best thrift shops or perfectly maintained Goodwill’s make mistakes. If you are there before the rush of the day then you don’t have to worry as much about things being out of place but make sure to at least briefly glance over areas you wouldn’t normally explore. Mine is usually the sports and/or glass section of Goodwill, BUT I found an awesome camera on a random shelf with all the glass cups one time and now I don’t ignore an aisle.
What appears to be an ugly thing could have promise or what seems to be a great thing could have holes. Go back to previous tip when looking over items.
–Grab first, assess later
This is 100% necessary at the bins. If you don’t grab what you even kinda
-Be picky with prices
I don’t know if this is as much of a problem in other places as it is in Portland but goodness the Goodwill has started charging more. I remember the day of getting clothes for a couple of bucks, now sweaters are up to $15 if not more. I think thrift stores are trying to hire people with some fashion and trend knowledge now so they can get more money out of their customers. I’m a bit miffed at that but it hasn’t stopped me from going. (obviously)
If you find something and it seems great but the price seems a little high it’s usually best to hold off. You didn’t come into a Goodwill store to buy something at almost full price. If something seems a little more than it should be to you then it probably will to others too and if you’re lucky it will stay on Goodwill shelves for a few weeks and then get marked down.
Above all make these trips fun. Take pictures of weird stuff you find so you can laugh about it later or send it to a friend. Think of thrifting as an adventure and then it doesn’t seem like as much of a chore. Don’t expect to find anything good so that you are happily surprised when you do.
Nicole and I have had days where every shop we went into was a bit of a bust. I still managed a good amount of purchases that day but overall it wasn’t a winning streak. That was the day we ventured out of the Goodwill thrift stores. We weren’t completely discouraged though, we learned valuable knowledge (like not to waste our time at the Salvation Army in far out SE Portland) and I did find a cool old Polaroid camera.
Go with friends… but friends that are willing to keep an open mind. If someone is a germ-a-phobe or just doesn’t have an easily sparked sense of humor then I wouldn’t go thrifting with them. You have to want to laugh.
That’s what I have thus far! I’ll be sharing some of my thrifting adventures as soon as I get my own place!