Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the basics of thrifting

My mom taught me to thrift shop when I was young. In Jr High, I think more than half of my wardrobe was thrifted (the rest was from Hot Topic). Thrifting is definitely one of my favorite things to do, but it's also one of those thing I have to be in the mood for.

Thrift shops can be the best places to find cheap items to decorate your home, cute dresses for a special occasion, designer brands for less, Halloween costumes, furniture to refurbish, cheap and adorable baby clothes, old sheets and fabric scraps for crafting, and the list goes on and on. I have found all of the above and more over my years of thrifting.

So, since many of you have commented to me about my thrift shop finds and my thrifting skills, I thought I would share some of my tips with you. And just for fun, you can find more tips here and here.

1. Make sure you have plenty of time- Searching through racks of clothes, piles of fabric, stacks of books and all the other buried treasures takes time and patience. Be prepared to spend time going through it all if you want to make some good finds. Every now and then something will just jump out at you; most of the time that one thing is hiding from you, just waiting for you to uncover it.. which makes it a little like a treasure hunt!

2. Look for sales- Many shops will have a sign when you walk in stating what is on sale that day or week. Most of the time clothes with a certain colored tag will be marked down. For example, when I went last week the sale was: All pink tags $1 and all green tags 1/2 price. Another shop had all books for $.25! Keep in mind the color of the tags to look for as you sift through the racks.

3. Keep in mind that while it may look funny on the rack, it could look awesome on you- Try on larger items and belt them or think about hemming longer dresses. Sizes might also may be different than what you're used to if the pieces are vintage (vintage clothing are marked with larger sizes than present day). Besides, you're going to spend less money on thrifted items so be adventurous and try something new!

4. Make an offer- Some stores have strict price policies that they cannot change. But others are sometimes willing to haggle. And sometimes prices change if an item hasn't sold for a while. It doesn't hurt to ask, all they can do is say yes or no!

5. Search for craft supplies- Most stores will have a section with yarn, fabric, patterns, zippers, etc. This is a great way to save a lot of money of craft supplies that can be too expensive elsewhere. Also, look through the old sheets to use as fabric. You can find some great prints and sometimes even some vintage prints!

6. Bring cash- This helps in 2 ways: it keeps you within a budget so you won't spend more than you have (which can be really easy to do) and many thrift shops don't take credit or won't swipe a card unless it's over a certain amount. If you just found a couple $1 shirts and a few books, it probably won't be enough for you to pay with a credit card (or at least without being charged extra).

Here are some of my favorite thrifted finds from over the years:

1. Express dress, purchased back when I was in high school
2. Skirt, Don't recognize the brand, but I loved the print and fabric!
3. Land's End belt
4. Chico's shirt with some beautiful embroidery and beading
5. My $1 Chargers sweatshirt!
6. Banana Republic dress, $4

1. Picnic basket that I use to store craft supplies, $2
2. Silk scarf
3. Picture frame, $3 (it was white.. I spray painted it and then painted the squares inside)
4. GIANT beaded necklace
5. Silver bracelets
6. Franco Sarto shoes
7. the complete family sewing book, $1
8.Reader's Digest: Back to Basics, $1

I hope these tips will be helpful to you! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I'll get back to you. Good luck!!


  1. Jessi, Where are your favorite Thrift stores in our area?

  2. Jamie- I usually shop at the few on PCH near my apartment. But there are some in Vista.. by your house. That big one in the Fresh n Easy parking lot. And of course, Garment Gourmet (altho they're kinda price-y for me :).