When someone asks me, “Hey where did you get that top (skirt, dress, etc.) and I tell them “Goodwill” their expression changes from curious to absolute shock. I explain that a good portion of my closet actually is second hand and they’re usually my favorite pieces to wardrobe. Then they say how lucky I am to have found such a deal because they themselves have never been successful at thrifting, and in some cases would never even consider doing it. And to be honest I used to feel the same way.
When I first started thrifting it was so frustrating to have to sift through a bunch of unwanted clothes just to come out empty-handed. I have always loved the concept of thrifting: giving purpose to older goods and being able to recycle from what can be a very wasteful fashion industry. But I almost gave up on the idea when I just couldn’t find anything worth having. It all changed when I moved to San Francisco and discovered the tricks behind finding the best of deals.
San Francisco, much like other big cities, is a second-hand-shop mecca! At first, I began shopping at consignment stores like Crossroads Trading Co. and Buffalo Exchange with great results. Consignment stores are different from thrift stores in that their merchandise typically does not consist of donations. Consignors choose and buy the products they carry which means they are going to be more expensive. Their items are usually gently used and sometimes even brand new. I find a ton of stuff from these stores and always for good prices; however, nothing beats thrift shops. Here are my tips on how to become not only a savvy shopper, but an amazing “thrifter”!
- BE WILLING: Remember you are thrifting, not just shopping! You should not come to a second hand shop with a wish list because chances are you will leave unhappy. Instead be willing to search racks of clothing and explore shelves of stuff. It’s like a big Easter-egg hunt so you want to make sure you are in the mood to thrift and have the energy to do so.
- BE PATIENT: It may take you some time to come across something nice, but I guarantee once you do it’ll be well worth it (the prices will be unbeatable!). The best results for me come when I make a day out of it and visit more than just one store. Thrifting is hit or miss but that should not discourage you to keep trying. When it comes to thrift stores it is all about location because they usually take up donations from local residences. Based on my experience, the shops I liked most were in neighborhoods where there were more people around my age and therefore had a similar style to mine.
- BE CREATIVE: Thrift shops are the best place to tap into your imagination. You can really change up your style at a low cost. I try to be more creative when it comes to colors, prints, and clothing textures. It allows me to be adventurous when it comes to layering and styling pieces. I even try to replicate outfits that I see in magazines. This creativity can also be applied to other merchandise you might find such as furniture or vintage décor.
- BE KNOWLEDABLE: One of my most important tips is to really think about what you are buying. What will you do with it? Are you actually going to wear it? Is it in good condition? It is important to ask these questions because there is nothing worse (and definitely NOT thrifty) than buying something you won’t use/wear – no matter how low the cost!
- DO YOUR RESEARCH: If you are like me and want to know the life of your clothing, then take some time to search up brands. When I come across an item with a questionable label, I pull out my phone to see whether or not it is worth my buy. Sometimes, I even come across very expensive brands that are sold in shops like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth. The better the brand, the bigger the deal!
I hope these tips lead you to the best thrifting experience! Have fun and good luck!