Living

The Ultimate Guide to Thrifting

“I wear your granddad’s clothes. I look incredible. I’m in this big ass coat from that thrift shop down the road.”
Macklemore, Thrift Shop

Macklemore knows a thing or two about thrifting. Difference is, you don’t have to wear a granddad’s clothes (unless you really want to — I won’t judge) to look incredible.

But hey, here’s the scoop: thrifting has become a phenomenon. Secondhand clothes are good for the environment, they’re good for your purse/wallet/pocket, and they’re also good for the community.

Not sure how to make a start? Join me in this ultimate guide to thrifting!

Go to second-hand stores (all the time)

The thing with shopping at mainstream/fast fashion outlets like Zara is that you know you can go whenever you want because they put in regular orders.

Thrift stores, on the other hand, don’t. What you see in store is what’s come in recently. It’s there today — but it might be gone (forever) tomorrow. 😓

I would ask at the counter when your local secondhand store replenishes its stock so that you know when the new/good stuff is coming in and can thus be at the front of the queue. It’s one way of guaranteeing you don’t miss out on something funky that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

Other than that, if you’ve got the time to visit often — visit often.

Dig into the clothes

Claws at the ready? Because you’re gonna need to do some digging!

Second-hand clothes stores are a mecca for, well, clothes. And that’s really the problem: there are often too many clothes. In order to find the good stuff — the hidden gems — you’re going to need to do some searching among the rubble of literally thousands of cardigans, pullovers, shirts, and so on.

It’s always a good idea to set some time aside when visiting a second-hand store so that you can get right in there, delving into the rails, the piles, the racks, and the baskets. Leave no stone unturned!

Check everything thoroughly

I don’t really have any gripes with thrifting, but if I’m allowed one, it’s that sometimes an item of clothing you buy will have a stain on it. A kind of stain you can’t get rid of or that just makes you go ‘eww.’

Moreover, electronic goods occasionally don’t work. Boo!

Thing is, you can avoid these problems by checking everything thoroughly before you take it to the counter. Make sure your clothes are free from stains by turning them inside out and doing a full assessment. Don’t be nervous about doing this in a store — this is your cash, after all.

Haggle!

Over in Britain, I love to watch a reality TV show called The Apprentice. On this show, budding entrepreneurs are often seen in thrift stores haggling over the price of second-hand goods. An item of clothing might be priced at $50 but — with the gift of the gab, a bit of charm, and a smile — the contestants can often get that price down to around $30. Not bad, huh?

I thought I’d try this myself. And you know what? It works.

Thrift stores are always looking to get rid of their stuff so that they can bring more stuff in quickly. And while the assistants won’t look like they’re ready to do a deal with you, they all (mostly) love a deal.

So if you see an item of clothing that seems insanely priced, be a bit cheeky and ask for a discount. Get that price down!

Buy in bulk

I discovered this trick completely by accident earlier this year. I was in a thrift store buying various bric-a-brac items when the assistant scanned my goods (old books, old ornaments, old records) and gave me a huge discount, simply because I’d bought in bulk and taken a load off her plate.

WIN.

Try it! Whenever you go thrifting, buy in bulk and see if the store will give you a discount. Put your best puppy dog eyes on.

Check to see if you’re eligible for a deal

I’ve already spoken about deals, and I’m gonna speak some more about them. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE DEALS.

Thrift stores are really cool places that offer discounts to students, seniors, and other groups. Not all thrift stores will offer these deals but a lot will.

Pop into your local thrift store and inquire about any deals or promos they offer.

Keep it seasonal

Thrift stores are a lot like regular stores in that their prices change according to the seasons. For example, if autumn has set in and a thrift store needs to get rid of their beachwear ASAP, now’s the time to nip over there and grab your bikini/trunks/sandals for next year.

It’s the same at Christmas time when the sales hit just after Santa has been to town.

Shop online, too

Popping into your local thrift store is a totally cool idea but I personally can’t vouch for the store of the quality of the clothing you’ll find.

And this is one of the issues with thrifting: there’ll be some clothes that aren’t up to scratch and which will fall apart after just three washes.

Or shrink or expand in the wash. Or shrink or expand while you’re wearing it (I swear this happened to me).

To that end, here are some of the best online thrift stores that won’t let you down:

PoshMark

PoshMark is home to more than 5,000 brands and millions of items. You’ll find secondhand items from the likes of Free People and Kate Spade on here, as well as Nike. Just do it!

eBay

eBay is great for international shopping, and there’s an insane amount of thrift shopping you can do on here. Just be careful because it’s way too easy to get addicted. I’m currently writing this article from eBay rehab.

DePop

Love retro styling? DePop is your new jam. One of the best things about this cool online thrift store is that you get to follow sellers you love.

Etsy

You’ve heard of Etsy, so I’m not going to sell it to you. But it’s a fab place to thrift and find clothes as well as vintage arts and crafts stuff.

What's next?

Thrifting is a fine way to restock your wardrobe on a budget while doing your bit for the environment. Use the tips in this article to ensure you don’t spend too much while buying quality clothing that you won’t need to take back.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below with any exciting clothes you find! Go forth and thrift!


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About Will Titterington

Will is a writer who's always looking for ways to live more sustainably. He’d probably like to build his own house one day but one step at a time — he’s only just learned how to change a lightbulb.