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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sifting & Thrifting - Some Tips

What's a girl to do when she can't find what she wants at her usual cheap chic shopping haunts? Go thrifting, of course. It's easy on the wallet and on Mother Earth. Fortunately, I live in an area that has an abundance of vintage, thrift, consignment, and antique shops. It's only recently that I've grown to enjoy the addictive rush of scoring a great deal at a thrift store. My shopping strategy usually entails having a "must have" list of items, as opposed to sifting through racks and seeing what catches my eye. I respect and admire those people who can walk into a thrift store and come out with amazingly stylish things, and I admire those who can reconstruct their finds into one-of-a-kind-pieces even more. As thrift stores (especially in my area) can be hot, crowded, and uncomfortable, I'm not always in the mood for such an environment. In my short amount of thrifting experience, I've found the following tips to be helpful:

1. Comfort is key - Dress appropriately for being on your feet, sorting through racks/piles, and dealing with a potentially hot, crowded store. Thrifting can be hard work, so making sure you're comfortable is the first step.
2. Go green - Bring your own reusable shopping bags so you don't have to use plastic. (Why isn't everyone doing this? I'd like to see the end of plastic bags!)
3. Be body conscious - It helps to visually know your size and what will fit when holding up garments and inspecting them. Since you may not be able to (or want to) try things on, get an idea of how your best-fitting garments fit by holding them up and looking at them. Sizes can vary greatly by decade, manufacturer, and style, so being able to visually estimate apparel proportions can be very helpful and save you from buying something that doesn't fit.
4. Paper over plastic - Since some of the thrift shops in my area accept cash only, it's convenient to bring small bills instead of a debit or credit card. And don't even think about writing a check...who does that anymore, anyway?
5. Practice patience - You never know what you may find, and having patience can pay off big time. (I definitely need to improve in this area.)
6. Take a closer look - Carefully inspect your merchandise to be sure it's free of holes, stains, broken fasteners, or other things that you might have to repair.
7. Be a weekday warrior - If you're like me and you prefer to shop when stores are less crowded, then weekdays might be your best bet. The thrift stores in my area are the busiest on Saturdays and Sundays in the late morning and early afternoon.

I know there are some expert thrifters out there, with much more experience than myself, so please feel free to add your tips (eg., how to disinfect shoes, how to determine fair jewelry prices, etc.) in the comments.

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