Dreaming of wearing those Gucci shoes that’ll make you feel like the star you are at your next convention? How about that Perla teddy to wear to your next photography shoot? Or maybe you wished you owned that Chanel jacket to wear after a hard day camming.
If these brand names seem impossible to own, I’m here to tell you they’re not, because I’ve scored them all at my local thrift store for under $75!
Sure, there’s an element of luck when scoring super high-end luxury items like these at thrift stores, but if you know what you’re doing you’ll consistently find clothes with tags still on, jeans for next to nothing that cost hundreds in boutiques, outrageous dresses that you can wear once and not feel guilty about it because they were so cheap… and every once in a while… the Moschino, the Marc Jacobs, the Alexander McQueen.
In the of this two-part series, I’ll talk about the most important skill you need to begin building your incredible bargain wardrobe:
How To Pick and Determine a Good Thrift Store
The reason you’re not finding any steals is you haven’t found a great place to shop.
- Location – this may sound snotty, but don’t go to thrift stores in poor areas. In general, places where wealthier people live have better quality items. On the reverse side, thrift stores in super rich areas can also be lousy because they’ll mark things way up. What you want is some middle ground.
- Real Thrift Store – Make sure you’re not going into one of those hipster places that calls itself a thrift store. They’re charging a lot because they find the items (vs. you doing the hunting) then mark them up.
- Independent Thrift Store – I haven’t had a lot of luck at Goodwills. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but generally independent thrift stores are better.
- Research – Be willing to hunt for your store and even go out of your normal shopping radius. As a sidenote, I find YELP reviews are not accurate as most people don’t know how to thrift, so they give bad reviews when the store is great.
- Cleanliness – If it’s dirty, it’s probably going to suck. If it smells, it’s probably going to suck.
- Newness of Clothes – Only need to glance at one row, if the clothes are old and tired looking chances are the rest of the clothes in the store will be too.
- Labels – Check labels. Once again, only need to glance at one row. If everything is Forever 21, waltz right out of there. On the flip side, don’t expect to see luxury labels right off – that’s a rarity, you’ll have to dig, but what you should see is middle to higher end labels scattered in with the lower end labels.
- Prices – If the store is super cheap it’s probably not going to have fantastic items. This is not a hard and fast rule but in general when everything’s $3 or less that’s what it’s worth. A good thrift store will have some overpriced items, correctly priced items, and will miss some gems and underprice them. These are my sweet spots – you may have a different threshold – $6-$8 for shirts, $8-$20 for jeans, $5-$20 for dresses with leeway on either side.
This should get you started, don’t give up, you’ll find your place if you’re persistent! Tune in next week for Part 2 where I’ll cover how to find the best deals once you’ve found your store.
Photo credit: iStock.com/VictorHuang
Alyssa Collins hails from Minnesota, where snowy days were the perfect excuse to stay warm inside and write. Over the years, she turned that joy into a career and has authored numerous articles for various publications (under pen names). Email Alyssa via [email protected].