by Lisa Sails
I started my affair with thrift shopping in high school. I even remember my first purchase: the coolest purple velvet loafers, which I still have to this day. I instantly fell in love. I felt like such a pirate, treasure hunting, and boy, did I score some serious gold. I’ve “thrifted” everything from vintage Dior, Michael Kors, and Phillip Lim, and I’m still on the lookout for more beautiful designer, vintage, and stylish duds. I daresay I’ve even found some great furniture that people throw away. Garbage picker and proud!
I use to be a big mall kinda girl — every weekend I would beg my mom for money so I could shop. I really favored Forever 21, and I would get lost in the jewelry section because it was so cheap. Then again, you get what you pay for in Forever 21, and it felt like I was completely wasting money on clothes that were temporary. So I started thrift shopping instead, and try hitting every thrift shop, resale store, and garage sale for the best one-of-a-kind pieces.
Goodwill vs. Salvation Army
The first ever thrift store to steal my heart was Goodwill. It was right next to my orthodontist and every time I had an appointment, I would peep in and see what I could sneak past my momma.
I didn’t want to cheat on my beloved Goodwill, but I needed to know who else had awesome pieces for such low prices, so I took a trip to Salvation Army, which wasn’t too far from it, and scoped the place out. I noticed they had much more furniture than Goodwill and a huge selection of clothing. However, compared to Goodwill, Salvation Army’s prices are much higher.
For discounts, Goodwill does 10% off for students with their college ID, and “the color of the week” is 50% off everyday. Salvation Army, on the other hand, marks all clothing half off on Wednesdays. It’s a bit different, but still a great way to save money.
Since I’m giving my honest opinion, I’d like to add that Plato’s Closet doesn’t count as a thrift store to me. They only buy name brand items to sell and nothing is vintage or really thrifty. It’s also hand picked: thrift stores take in everything by donation, whereas Plato’s Closet gives money to people getting rid of clothing. But have you ever taken clothes to sell at Plato’s? If your answer is yes, you’re probably going to follow up with how much they gypped you. I brought in a couple of garbage bags filled with clothes and as they picked them apart and used their “cool radar,” they determined that all my clothes were worth $13.00. That wasn’t even enough to pay for the gas I’d wasted. So in conclusion, Plato’s Closet is not a thrift store.
Smaller Thrift Shops
Mom and Pop thrift shops are really fun to stumble upon because they’re usually really low priced and have some unique stuff you won’t find anywhere else. However, they also have more broken or stained items, so you need to keep your eye open for any imperfections.
(I once saw a really sketchy mattress being sold…it looked like a murder scene.)
Garage Sales and Swap & Shops
Another one of my secrets: Huge community garage sales and local swap and shops. If you’re looking for a great girl’s night mixed with massive amounts of clothing, this is your night. I suggest you check out Other People’s Property and become their fan on Facebook. Every couple of months they plan a huge Swap & Shop: Everyone is able to bring clothes in that they want to give away, and for just $15.00 you can fill up your bags with anything you’d like. By far the best deal I’ve had so far for recycling clothes.
I always try and mark my calendar for more upcoming swaps and garage sales because I can’t miss out on finding art, furniture, free TVs, $0.50 dresses, and vintage denim jackets. How could I turn that away? Yes, garage sales and swaps are a bit more time-consuming, but you’re working directly with the owner, and he or she will usually work with you on price, so start practicing your haggling!
Your takeaway: Figure out what you like most and plan accordingly.
Getting more bang for your buck really takes some planning, time and effort. Finding the right spot might be hard, so giving every place a try is really worth it. Maybe Salvation Army has more home goods for the interior designer in you, or Plato’s Closet houses all the brands you need for a fraction of the price. Goodwill will always be my number one, but you’ll see me at every Swap & Shop and driving around your community garage sale, because I just can’t get enough. I’m a sucker for a bargain.
Goodwill Store: Flickr photo by Scurzuzu.
Salvation Army Store: Flickr photo by Mike Mozart.
Plato’s Closet storefront: Foursquare check-in photo by Nina D.
Thrift shop furniture section: Flickr photo by Orin Zebest.
Garage sale: Flickr photo by John Beagle.
Group of women clothes swapping (at top) and Other People’s Property Springtime Swap & Shop flyer images courtesy of HerCampusUCF.
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