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How to be a Successful Thrifter

April 30, 2013

Greetings! Ya know, to thrift is an interesting thing. Many people do not like to thrift for various reasons and I can say for a fact that one of those reasons is because they do not know HOW to thrift. My soul mate friend Caitlin is here to the rescue. She has been thrifting for years–she even worked at a thrift shop during her youth–and she knows how to do it best! So I followed Caitlin around the local thrifty shop to pick up on some of her best thrifting tips.
thrifting with caitlin

1. Before you even hit the thrift shop you must be prepared!: a) Some thrift stores do not have a changing room, they only have a little mirror in the corner of the main room. Always be prepared for this situation by wearing either a fitted top or a tank top under your shirt so you can examine a good fit when trying clothes on. b) Along with this tip comes watching out for creepy people. Once in a while some old creep might like to hang around that mirrored corner for the “visuals”. Caitlin said the best way to get rid of them is to stare at them in the eye with a compete blank look on your face. This tends to scare them away. c) Wear something with pockets. You regret bringing in your purse or hand bag once you’ve started to shop around. Your hands are always full of things and it is just a hassle, so keep your money and phone and keys in your pockets.

2. The best place to go as soon as you step into the thrift store is the the shoe section. Shoes tend to be more scarce and it is harder to get lucky with a good pair of shoes at a thrift shop so always try to get first dibs.

3. As you begin to shop, scan the store for other shoppers who have similar taste as you. If you see anyone with that match, be aware, for they are now your enemy. Everything from this point on, for a lack of a better term, and not to sound completely dramatic, is a competition.

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4. Grab stuff that stands out. Be liberal–just grab what looks good, even if you aren’t too sure if it will fit or look good on you; keep the scarcity in mind. You never know what it will look like once you’ve tried it on.

5. When trying on clothes, be ruthless. Ask yourself: Does it fit correctly? Where would I wear this? What would I wear this with? Do not leave with more stuff than you need or stuff you will not wear. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen something and thought it was neat so I bought it, wore it once and never wore it again. Never buy something that you are not 100% on board with. You must love what you are buying. And do not tell yourself “it’s only $1!”. Do yourself a favor and do not become a thrift shop hoarder.

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For example, check out this little red sweater Caitlin is holding… it is the cutest little sweater I have ever laid my eyes on. It is red, which I love, it has a little peter pan collar, it is just so tiny, and it was only 99 cents. I was about to buy it because all I could think was this is the cutest little thing ever! But I had to back myself up and remind myself, I am not a mother, I do not have children, my siblings don’t have children, I am not an aunt, my friends don’t have children and I do not know any children this tiny. What on earth am I going to do with this sweater? Nothing! Absolutely nothing. If I were to buy this it would have been a waste of space and even though 99 cents ain’t much, it would have been a real waste of 99 cents.

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6. This shirt is a great example of the unknown while thrifting. Caitlin saw this shirt and what she saw was something that isn’t the cutest most awesome shirt ever but it might look cool on the body. When I tried it on, I ended up really liking it but I probably would not have thought that if I just saw it chilling on the hanger. And sewers really have an advantage to thrifting because we can alter any garment.

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7. Now let’s talk pricing. You must be willing to walk away from something with too high of a price. Here is an example: If an item does not have a price tag on it, examine it and decide for yourself what you think the price of it should be. Let’s say you decide it is worth $3 because it is in ok shape and is not a designer label. When you approach the shop worker to ask how much the item is, chances are they will try to push the price up and say, “That’s a vintage shirt–$15”. You have to be good at bargaining and know why it is not worth $15 in order to say something back to them such as, “No, the value is more like $3; the fabric is worn; it has clearly been used a lot.” Most of the time they know they are trying to rip you off so if you come back at them with respectful confidence then they will go with your $3.

8. Remember to not touch your face at all while thrifting because you WILL get zits! Bring hand sanitizer with you so you can wash your hands when leaving. Trust me, your hands will feel nasty.

Heeding these 8 tips will make you a thrifting pro. Now go out and change the world!

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