‘Twas a great man that once said, “Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition – Fifty dollars for a T-shirt, that’s just some ignorant s**t.” Yes, we’ve all heard the Macklemore song about the delicate art of thrift shopping. What was once regarded as being in poor taste – or worse yet, embarrassing – has now become cool, and has been cool here in New York for quite some time. Our thrift stores are not the sad, Salvation Army variety; they’re filled with gems, if you’re willing to look for them. I guess it’s because NYC is one of the best dressed cities in the world so the clothes that end up in these second-hand stores are bound to be great finds.
The benefits of thrift shopping are manifold. The first and most obvious is that it’s way cheaper than paying retail prices, which is perfect for our post-college, tuna-can-dinner millennial budgets. Another is that it’s good for the planet – yay for recycling! And last but not least, the clothes you’ll find are likely to be way more unique than the stuff you’ll find on retail store shelves. Thrift clothes could have come from anywhere, so while everyone else is wearing the latest full-priced trends, your wardrobe will have a unique twist. You’re also more likely to get things that really speak to you, as opposed to just wearing the season’s picks.
To an amateur eye, a thrift store may appear to have nothing to offer. But, if you know how to navigate these places, you are sure to have a successful shopping trip. So here are some tips for shopping at thrift stores – let’s make Macklemore proud!
Know What to Expect
Thrift stores are way different than retail. There’s usually only one of each item so it’s either your size or it’s not. This also means that you have to literally sift through every hanger on every rack in order to see everything, as opposed to retail stores where you can just glance around the store to know if there’s something there for you or not.
Thrifting is a bit more time-consuming and takes more energy than regular shopping so don’t go if you’re tired and cranky.
Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap – chances are, you already have enough useless crap lying around and you don’t need any more. As with regular shopping, only buy items that you love and that you know you’ll wear. Be mindful of the brand, too. Try to only buy items if you regularly wouldn’t buy the label at retail price. H&M and Forever 21 are already so cheap that you can save yourself the trouble and go to their respective stores. My current favorite pair of jeans, for instance, came from a thrift store and I bought them with the tag still on. They’re Lucky Brand, which retails for about $70, but I got them for only $27. That’s basically winning the denim lottery, wouldn’t you say?
Another tip: If you’re buying an item that has a slight imperfection – like, say, a missing button – point it out to the cashier and they’re likely to give you a discount. I once got a cardigan that had a teeny hole on the sleeve (I sewed it up at home) for $3.75.
The Ick Factor
Yes, strangers have worn the clothes before you, but most items at these stores are gently worn and in great condition, so just put your treasures through the spin cycle and get over it.
How do you feel about thrift shopping?