As a seasoned thrifter, you have seen and done almost everything. You already tried that dress on last week, considered that pair of pants the month before last–and didn’t you donate that top? If you are a regular at your local thrift and consignment stores and are growing bored with the selection, it may be time for a change of pace.
Gab’s favorite thrift finds: Unlabeled Lined Waterproof Anorak, $6
1. Seek new favorites.
Everyone loves to frequent their favorite store, but sometimes the clothing turnover is not as fast as you would like, or you’ve left empty-handed the last few times. The first thing you can do is ask employees and owners of the stores you visit regularly about the opening of a new store or a great one in the next town over–they may be in the know. As a bonus, you may find that giving your regular store (or stores) a break helps you to feel inspired once you do stop in again. I’ve found the best stores while abroad, since my own town doesn’t have much to offer. Mid-sized cities are great because they typically have lots of selection without major-city prices.
Kate Spade Flats, $30
2. Bring a different shopping partner.
If you usually shop alone, try bringing along a friend. Fresh company can give you a fresh outlook on a store. Alternatively, if you shop with the same person all the time, ask a different friend to join you. Even if the selection is tiring to you, your friend may appreciate you helping him or her to pick out something special. This is also an excellent way to introduce a friend to thrifting who was previously hesitant. If I’m in New York, I love taking a friend to my favorite stores for the first time.
Eddie Bauer Shirt, $3
3. Find out when the store updates the stock.
It’s not necessary for you to camp out in the donation area, but strike up a friendly chat with a salesperson and they should be happy to tell you when most of the new stuff comes in. For example, perhaps most people at your store consign on Saturdays when they have time, and the new things make it to the floor Monday morning. You will have first pick of the new stock, and once they get to know you, the employees may even keep an eye out for specific styles or brands that you are interested in.
Wool French Connection Coat, $6
4. If you have time, give back.
Sign up for a volunteering shift, offer to help out with events or donate your own clothing. Stores like Housing Works are always looking for volunteers at a variety of events. If your store hasn’t yet put on any events, consider offering your time and helping them start a fashion show where the proceeds go to charity, or organize a prom dress clothing drive for a local school. There are several creative ways to keep the thrifting karma going.
Silver Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag, $10
5. Branch out.
Next weekend, see if there is there a flea market in your town. You can also try checking out yard and estate sales. I once found five button-down James Perse shirts at a yard sale for $3 each. Sites such as Twice, eBay and Craigslist can also be worthwhile.
Kate Spade Flats, $30
6. Brush up on classic thrifting techniques.
You may already be sure of how to navigate fitting rooms, seek clean and well-made items or know what not to look for, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit some tips. Don’t let a gross thrift store ruin your whole outlook on the process!
J. Crew Wool Cardigan, $20
2. Dritz Sewing Kit - For those of us who are not seamstresses, this tiny sewing kit has a great selection of colors, as long as you didn’t go to art school and are oblivious to the fact that the red in the kit and the red blouse you bought are completely different… and just enough tools to fix a button on the go, or a small seam rip. Do not believe for a minute that you will have enough thread to do more than 2 buttons, I’ve made that mistake before.
3. Measuring Tape - Probably the most useful tool to keep in your purse when thrifting and altering your finds. Have you tried measuring yourself with a normal tape measure? I have. It did not go well. Vintage sizing can be very misleading compared to modern standards, and sometimes you don’t have time to try on the entire store.
5. Fabric Glue - For those of you that somehow surpass the laziness of a kindergarden-level sewing kit or are ashamed at your own inability to thread a needle, here is some glue! You’ll find it useful if you need to fix long or frayed hems.
6. Cedar Blocks - Apparently these magical blocks eliminate mildew, repel insects, and “bring the freshness of outdoors into your home”, which isn’t really true for me since I live next to a bakery and everything smells like donut holes. I guess it’s a good choice if you’re nostalgic for the northern forests or your grandmother’s underwear drawer.
All ThriftClass photos by Tyler Constance
When it comes to buying things secondhand, we’d love to hear your personal stories and advice in the comments!