Thursday, 4 October 2012

10 tips for Thrift Store Shopping

I've decided to start a blog posting chain called Thrifty Thursdays. Every Thursday, I'm going to post some of the wonderful little treasures I've found in thrift stores over the years or just plain good deals! This Thursday, I'm actually going to feature a post that I wrote before (from my old blog) just to start off for all you beginning thrifters!


 I don't know when my obsession with thrift stores started, but maybe it was when I was a 10 year old, going on Saturday morning excursions with my mom to yard sales where people were selling cheap knick knacks and second-hand goods out of their garages. I distinctly remember my first second-hand purchase was a $2 nike sweater from one of those garage sales. Favourite sweater ever. My other favourite sweater was a red and black plaid number that said SCOTLAND in big black letters on the front. I was so cool. How come kids nowadays don't go through such an awkward clothing phase? I attribute my later coolness to having experienced that awkward phase, contrary to popular opinion that suggests I'm still in said phase. haha.


The images below aren't mine. They're from a Refinery 29 article featuring tips for thrift store shopping in New York. I thought the pictures were super nice though so I used them instead of my own and I decided to write a few tips about thrifting where I live. I don't know if thrift store shopping is quite as "trendy" in Vancouver yet, but that's okay because I like it when I find little shops that are rarely frequented. I much prefer it to shopping in a crowded commercialized mall. 

all images from Refinery 29

Here are some of MY tips on thrift shopping (specifically) for clothes + fashion accessories.

When you are thrift store shopping...

1) be happy: It sounds kind of silly but you've got to be in the mood for thrift-store shopping. If you're in a hurry, it's probably not a good time to be hunting for unknown treasure in the depths of a dark second-hand lair. If I'm in the right mood though, I can spend hours combing through assorted racks of fabrics and rummaging through shelves brimming with trinkets. For me, thrift store shopping is a therapeutic, enjoyable treasure-hunt of an experience!

2) be open: Going second-hand shopping is not for everyone, but if you're willing to attempt it, you have to be open to possibilities. The outside of the store may look like a run-down warehouse, and the inside might be overwhelmed with dust bunnies, but sometimes those are the best places for hidden treasure waiting to be uncovered. 

3) be risky: But not in the scandalous way. Take some fashion risks - since thrift store prices are so cheap, you can try some styles that you usually might not try if paying regular prices at the mall. It's an inexpensive way to experiment with fashion and find one-of-a-kind pieces that are beyond the current trends.

4) be eagle-eyed: hahaha. seriously. be as sharp as a hawk. I usually like to look at accessories (handbags, belts, jewelry) and I head to those sections with the intention of finding some cheap but interesting additions to my accessories collection. If you're searching for something particular, switch to tunnel vision and use your thrifting eye lazers to zero in on that specific colour, fabric, print, or style that you're hunting for.

5) be androgenous: (creeped out by the headings of my tips yet?) Okay, so for this one, I just mean that if you are a girl, sometimes you might find something worthwhile in the men's section. I do it all the time at Urban Outfitters, where they sell men's clothing in some colours that most straight men would not wear, and that's exactly where I find my size XS men's cardigans that are more comfortable than form-fitting women's ones, and often slightly cheaper too!

6) be inventive: This one's a biggie! If the chain of a small handbag is broken, maybe you can cut it off and use it as a clutch. If a belt is too long, sometimes the leather can be cut and shortened. If you see a skirt in a cute print but it's a tad too long, think of how you could bring up the hemline for a more youthful look. If a blazer fits nicely but the buttons are not your style - that could be an easy DIY fix! There are endless possibilities with thrifted items!

7) be selective: Now this is the opposite of #6 but it's just as important and this tip balances out the amount of spending that takes place. You might have a whole pile of clothes that you want to re-sew and re-new, but... (and this is a lesson for myself as well)... only buy something if you're REALLY going to take the time to fix it up. If you don't have time and it's just going to sit there in your closet, then don't buy it. 

8) be thrifty: kinda sounds ironic while we're talking about THRIFT shopping, but sometimes even if you're grabbing all these amazing cheap items, the price CAN add up. Make sure you ask yourself, "am I really going to wear this or am I only buying this because it's $2?" If it's the latter, then drop it and run from the evil lures of the beast named Impulse Buying.

9) be kind: if you've collected a whole pile of items and decide not to purchase some of them, do put them back in the sections where you found them or give them to the shop workers. Most thrift stores are pretty organized and it's pretty annoying to have piles of unwanted clothing lying all over the place, discarded by customers.

10) be patient: I usually go thrifting alone just because when I take people with me, they tend to get bored faster than I do. haha. You really have to be patient. Sometimes, you'll search for a long time and come up treasureless. Don't be sad if you can't find the perfect coat of your dreams right on your first thrifting attempt.  You have to be willing to look through racks and racks of moldy sweaters or stained t-shirts... but when you find that one gem of a spotless white blouse, mint-condition pearl earrings, or vintage leather bag... it's totally worth it.

So there you have it. Hopefully that list of tips was mildly interesting. Below is a picture of one of the thrift stores that I always go to. Anyway, next Thursday I will post some of my favourite thrifted items. 

Do you like going to thrift stores? And if so, what's your favourite thrift-store purchase?


  1. Hey! Thanks for your comment! Great idea with the burgundy-pants remixing :) Your blog is lovely and I really like this post :) the store on the pictures looks so cosy and cute!


    1. yah the store does look cozy doesn't it! haha. im looking forward to more outfit posts with burgundy pants! =P

  2. Great post!Lovely blog. What about following each other?

  3. i'll take credit for #7 thanks :)

  4. The perfect piece of advice for thrift shopping! I think every thrifter NEEDS to see this! <3

  5. really interesting blog... maybe we can follow each other?