by Kim Jovinelli
How to Navigate a Thrift Store
By show of hands, how many of you look down on thrift store shopping? Ok, put your hands down. How many of you have gone thrift shopping? Garage sale shopping? Flea Markets? Estate sales? Vintage markets? Well, we are not here to judge, and I don’t know how many of you actually put your hands up while reading this, but good on yah! My point here is that though it can be looked down upon, “thrift shopping” can be one of the most rewarding experiences for the fashionably inclined … Like me!
The economy is bad, we all know that, and it seems that repair is slow and on going to our fragile wallets. Yet, in the darkness can be found a ray of hope for the shopaholics. Stores like Plato’s Closet, Goodwill, Consignment shops, Flea Markets, and garage sales are all booming in this fragile state of the nation. Why? Because, who wants to pay full price for something when you can find it for pennies on the dollar? I personally love thrift shopping! I find the thrill of the hunt and the joy of one spectacular find is enough to keep me coming back for more.
Provided you aren’t squeamish about used items, and even if you are, I will run down the list of the best places to go by order of preference, price, and availability.
- Goodwill. I put this first because they are readily available throughout the nation and also have their own auction site, the link to which I will provide at the end of the article. Plus, as far as pricing goes, they are for the most part consistent across the board. However, to find that amazing piece, it does require a pretty extensive bit of digging, but is by no means impossible to the patient. I myself have found Fendi, Betsy Johnson, Alexander McQueen, and Zac Posen all at a Goodwill store.
- If you want to make it a bit easier on yourself, my suggestion for this is to do your homework. Firstly, find the neighborhoods that have “money”. Every city has them, so this is not a new concept. They are the ones that will be more likely to have higher end items.
- HOWEVER, a warning to the wise. Not all the items you are going to find are “real”. There are many fakes out there and unless you know what you are looking for with regards to identifying a real vs. fake item, or it’s blatantly obvious, you are very, very likely to get a fake.
- Plato’s Closet/Consignment Shops: Though a bit pricier, these types of shops take the guesswork out of the digging for you because they are picky what they take. Fakes are still possible though, but less likely. How these work is when you have items you do not want any longer, you either sell directly to the store for cash or the store sells the item for you, or consigns the item, and takes a commission on what it sells for.
- One of the best things about these types of stores is the fact that they ARE picky about what they take. There is a consignment shop in Philadelphia, Green Street Consignment, which will only take high end items. I will give the store information at the end of the article.
- Garage/Yard/Estate Sales and Flea Markets: These are much more common during the warmer months and are sort of an anything goes sort of sale. If you’re good at haggling, this should be fun for you because what the price says isn’t always what you will pay. Like goodwill, if you want pricier items, go to pricier areas.
- Vintage Markets: I will put this at the higher end of the price spectrum because you ARE paying for vintage items, many of which can be one of a kind. YET, there is still hope my friends, because they also have items they “want to get rid of” so the prices are lower. Depending on your tastes, this can be a great place to find completely unique items!
So, to wrap up – since this article seems to have gotten away from me – thrift shopping is a rewarding experience. Like I stated before, it’s the thrill of the hunt and the joy of the find that makes this so fun! I recommend it 100% and hope this article has been informative and will help you on your next adventure!
As promised, here is some useful information. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter, @FASHIONphi.
please leave me your thoughts and if you have any ideas for an article, feel free to leave them in the comments!