I’ll admit it. I used to be a snob about thrift store shopping. The whole idea of wearing someone else’s clothes gave me the heebee jeebees. And I didn’t have the patience for combing through the racks or walking around looking at endless shelves of “junk”.
I’d much rather pay full retail price for something shiny and new, I’d say.
But then during a casual conversation with friends, we found out that upon losing a lot of weight, and needing to basically get a whole new wardrobe, they started hitting thrift stores. Virtually their whole closet is filled with items found at said stores (and they always look good). That gave me something to noodle over. Then, in reading more decorating blogs with stories of people finding something shabby for a dollar and turning it in to something amazing, I became convinced that this was worth trying.
So, 2 weeks ago I made my first Goodwill run. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Not sure why but I guess there’s a certain skill to thrifting and I felt like a total newbie with the spotlight shining on me. I walked among aisles, glancing at things but not really looking. I saw other people with shopping carts full of stuff and was in awe. I went to 2 stores and my total loot was one throw pillow.
I felt somewhat successful though I knew I could do better. I decided to make Friday evenings my Goodwill time so last Friday I carried out the same mission, only I went to two different stores. This time I loaded up.
At the first one I found 2 cardigan sweaters, a pair of slippers (we’re going to have a “no shoes” rule at the new house and want to provide slippers for guests to wear), a blue vase and 4 colorful plates (for the new kitchen). Grand total: $20.
At the next one I got a cool lamp that will be perfect for the family room and 3 pairs of child sized slippers. Grand total: $15.
Then on Saturday, I took Isabella with me and we hit one store. Didn’t find as much there. We got a throw pillow, Clifford book for her, and a water bottle. Grand total: $6.
I’m still new at this and trying to figure it all out. But I’m learning. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up so far:
- Go often: this is probably the biggest rule of thumb. You can’t go once every 6 months and expect to find what you want. You have to be a regular as the product moves fast.
- Don’t have expectations: unlike regular shopping, you can’t go in with a list of items you want, because they may not have them. You need to have a general idea of what you’re looking for but yet have an open mind.
- Isolate: No, not yourself. Isolate the various items. It’s hard to see an item on the shelf, amongst hundreds of other items, and picture it in your house. You have to pick it up, look it over and try to envision it on your mantle or countertop or in your kids’ room. And again – have an open mind!
- Carve out some time: you can’t race through the store in 5 min. If you want to find stuff, you have to walk up and down every aisle. That was my rookie mistake the first time around. I was too impatient.
- Go to different stores: there are like 20 different Goodwill’s in Omaha, plus all kinds of other thrift stores. Rotate locations. They all have different inventory and depending on the neighborhood, will have varying qualities. It goes to show that a store in a more wealthy part of town will probably have nicer stuff. But not necessarily. Visit them all and find your favorites, then get in a rotation to visit your favs on a regular basis.
My hope is to build my wardrobe and decorate my new house with thrift store items. Not only will it be cheaper but I’m also more likely to find unique and fun pieces that I couldn’t find at Target, Wal-Mart or other retail chain stores.
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