The secondary market has long been an excellent source for economy minded shoppers. Many prudent moms are aware that thrift stores are not just for Halloween costumes, but are a great source for children’s clothing. Not only blue jeans, but complete outfits can be “thrifted” for a very inexpensive price.
I have been “thrifting” for many years. Lets face it, walking into a gigantic store for the first time can be overwhelming. Stores are organized in various manners. Either by gender, color, item, etc. The key to a successful trip is planning. You will need to take your time and devote about 1 hour per store. It sounds like a lot, but it almost always pays off. In fact, many thrift stores have special “sales”. It is a good idea to ask the staff for a hand out of prices and upcoming sales and events.
First, take a list. Know what items you are looking for, noting size, color and quantity. If, for instance, you will be dressing for a new job. Make a list of items you might require for that position. Blouses, dress pants, and sweaters are always a very good bargain at thrift stores. Many times priced at less than 1/3 of the amount they would cost retail. I have purchased many name brand items that still had their original tags and had never been worn.
Second, look for name brands and/or brands that you know and love. I myself, love Ralph Lauren. I have found many designer items at bargain prices. I always get a basket and do what I call a “sweep”. I grab items that might appeal and hold them for closer scrutiny. If your trip is on a weekend, this is a good strategy, as most stores are quite crowded at that time. If you are planning a Saturday trip, an early start is imperative.
Third, check, check, and re-check the items. Do a first glance all over inspection for condition, wear, rips, etc. I have found issues even after 2 examinations.
Some simple Dos and Don’ts:
- Never buy and item that is stained. 9 times our of 10, it will not come out.
- Never buy an item that is ripped unless you are a VERY good seamstress.
- Never buy and item for $5 that you can purchase new for $10.
- Check all seams for rips, frays and tears.
- Check all zippers, snaps and check for missing buttons
- When purchasing jeans and pants, check the bottom leg seams for rips, tears and excessive wear. Don’t forget to check the pockets for holes.
- When shopping for “vintage” items look for the ILGWU label .
- Check the tag for wash-ability. Some items can be home cleaned using store bought “dry cleaning” products.
- If you see something you LOVE…but it! You will regret it when its not there when you come the next time.