A Tradition of Mine: Thrift Shopping

Thrifty quote - Andra Day

Every school break, I always make a list of things I’d like to accomplish. Some items on this list never get done.

For instance, while I am in school, I always tell myself I ought to take the time during a break to make a mass list of every reference I’ve ever used in my courses, so I don’t have to continually search hundreds of documents.

Like clockwork, I never manage to tackle that feat. A month goes by and it just conveniently does not happen. Since it’s school related, it’s the last thing I’d choose to do on my break. So, it’s usually the one item on my list that just doesn’t get done.

On the flip side, without fail, some items are on the list every single break. And, they are accomplished. For instance, I almost always make a run to Goodwill, especially after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Therefore, you can believe I went this past week. I couldn’t resist. It is almost like my break is incomplete without it.

It is at this point I say this blog post is not for everyone, and I am more than okay with that. In fact, a fellow blogger and I once bonded on this exact notion. Not every post or form of content is for everyone, nor does every post have to be the best piece of writing either. Back to it then.

Guys, I am a sucker for Goodwill and thrift shopping in general. I wouldn’t say I am an expert at it. But, I do love it. In fact, I enjoy thrifting more than I do regular clothes shopping!

I’ve shopped at several thrift stores in different cities. Goodwill always seems to be the best option. I’ve found others don’t tend to be as organized or offer as good of a selection. Perhaps, it is just because of where I live. Regardless, my preference for Goodwill does not stop me from giving other thrift stores a chance.

I think my attraction to thrift shopping lies in my desire to not pay full price for something unless I absolutely have no other option, due to size, quality, or time constraints. I’ll wait months to find the perfect item if it means I don’t have to pay an outrageous price for it.

Usually, if I know I need something, I’ll look at a couple Goodwill locations. If I can’t find what I need there, and I really need it, I’ll go ahead and get it at a regular retail store. Nevertheless, I will still look in the clearance rack first.

I mean, for goodness sakes, I found my wedding dress at a local mom and pop bridal shop for less than $100. My accessories were more expensive than the dress!

I’ve learned it’s all about simply being patient with oneself and the options.

For instance, some trips—like the one I took last week—are extremely successful and I find a lot of great stuff for a fraction of the price. Other times, I find hardly anything. Or, some trips, I find exactly what I am looking for. Others, I leave with items I did not think I’d get but I ended up loving.

You can’t walk in there with rigid expectations. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.

Regardless of what I find, I have one major rule that I follow with thrifting—I must rid of an item in my closet for every thrift store find. They don’t have to be similar pieces—i.e. a shirt for a shirt.  But, the replenished amount does have to be the same or higher than what I brought home.

Doing so is not as difficult for me as it may be for others. I always tend to have a mental list of items I’d be okay with parting from. Plus, doing so forces me to not have too much unnecessary clutter in my wardrobe.

Also, I know myself well enough to know when I am done looking. For instance, I probably could’ve stayed longer and potentially found more goodies the last time I went, but I wasn’t interested.

I know when my appreciation for the adventure of thrift shopping ends. I know when enough is enough. Knowing that limit is what encourages me to keep coming back a least a couple times a year.

For a lot of people, it can be a bit overwhelming. I do agree, it can be. However, I have figured out if I go with a list of things I’d like to get, it is not as overwhelming. Plus, it forces me to take a good, hard look in my closet.

For example, there are few items that almost always make my list: plain, casual tees, sweaters, and jeans.

I know some people may not like the idea of buying jeans from a thrift shop, but I have no problem with it. Most of the jeans in retail stores are hardly ever in my size. Or, if they are, they have to be hemmed.

Plus, I don’t wear jeans often since I work in a business office. Therefore, I am okay with spending less money on a pair that already has some wear and tear in them. I won’t wear them enough to notice a difference.

My husband, on the other hand, must spend decent money on a quality pair because he wears jeans nearly every single day. On a similar note, because I work in a business office, I am willing to spend decent money on a quality pair of slacks. In my current season of life, I will wear them enough to make it worth it for me.

To me, it is all about practicality, use, and price.

Don’t get me wrong, I observe the condition of an item, regardless of the brand, price, or how much I love it or need it.

It’s a fact of life: Some people take better care of their clothing than others. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just something to make note of when thrifting.

Nevertheless, I will say my least favorite part of thrifting is falling in love with an item that ends up not fitting well.

My most vivid memory of this was when I found a brand new, unworn Maurice’s light gray short sleeve blazer with the $60 tag still on it. I was ecstatic when I saw it. I knew I just had to try it on. To my disappointment, it was one size too small. It was difficult to put back on the rack. I mean, a $60 blazer for $6 is a steal!

My call to you this: If you’ve never gone thrift shopping for clothes, I challenge you to go once. And, I don’t mean antique shopping either. Antique shopping is not the same. Trust me, I went to enough antique stores in my childhood to know the difference.

Your excursion may surprise you. You, too, may make it a biannual occurrence like I do!




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