I’m no shopping expert: designer labels intimidate me and I’m not entirely comfortable using “thrift” as a verb. But, I do go to thrift stores at least a couple of times each week, and I've gotten pretty good at collecting objects and clothes that are truly unique.
When it comes to thrift stores, you may find yourself saying, "It's just too frustrating!" But here are five tips that will help you become a more efficient shopper, without sacrificing your budget (or your sanity).
If something doesn’t fit right or if you find yourself holding up a dress and saying, “I can just cover that hole with a belt,” you should probably just skip it.
You’re looking through literally decades worth of clothing here. The chances of you finding something perfect in the first fifteen minutes is slim to none. Grab some coffee beforehand, buckle down and start digging.
Going shopping with friends is fun! There’s chit-chatting and advice giving and dressing room sharing. I have a few go-to thrifting buddies, but if I want to bust out a big haul, I go solo.
This allows me ample time to get my grubby hands on each rack and guiltlessly take five trips to the dressing room. Not to say you should never shop with friends (how depressing!), but try going by yourself and see what happens.
Try new places.
There are a million thrift and vintage shops around Austin. One. Million. It seems logical to stick to places that have proved successful in the past — I go to the stores on North Loop a lot — but don’t get too comfortable.
Some of my favorite pieces were found in places I had never been to before. Smaller, well curated shops are distinct and specialize in different eras and styles. The more places to go, the more variety you’ll see.
One of the great things about thrifting is that it’s so darn cheap! Eight dollars for a dress is pretty fantastic. This fact, though awesome, gets me into trouble a lot. I’ll make exceptions for things because I’m not spending much on them. If something doesn’t fit right or if you find yourself holding up a dress and saying, “I can just cover that hole with a belt,” you should probably just skip it.
Small purchases add up quickly and there’s nothing more soul sucking than spending $50 on a bunch of crap. I used to say “If you don’t love it in the store, you’ll hate it when you get home,” but then Sandra Bullock said the same thing in The Blind Side, so I stopped. Whatever, it’s still true.
Accept (temporary) defeat.
You don’t have to buy something every time you go shopping. After two hours of trying on clothes to no avail, it’s temping to purchase something you don’t absolutely love so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted an afternoon. Don’t give into this. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a store empty handed: It’s part of the process. Save your money for something special.
Looking for a place to start? Get yourself a Vintage Around Town guide, pick a 'hood and let the shopping begin!