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Friday, November 16, 2012

Golden Nuggets: What I've learned from a lifetime of thrifting

PSSSSSST.....the entire outfit above (from head to toe) was thrifted for about ten dollars.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: What I've learned from a lifetime of thrifting...

Jesus lacquered on to wood slabs…murderous porcelain clowns…three hundred dollar designer hand bags and tons of fabulous dresses….these are amongst the treasures too numerous to recant that I have encountered in a lifetime of thrifting!
I’ve loved it all; from housewares to shoes.  In my twenties, I was notoriously kitschy—ridiculous vintage prints, wacky posters, shirts with howling wolves. (Wait—that sounds like me in my thirties?) Well, it’s true. I’m still drawn to the fascinating entertainment value of goofy paintings and loud prints. I have, however, gotten much smarter about my thrifting as I’ve matured, and today I’d like to share some of those lessons with you!

·     Try it on. Admittedly—I almost NEVER do this with dresses, because I just KNOW when they will/won’t fit me. That said, when it comes to shirts, blazers, pants or shoes, it absolutely makes NO sense not to try it on before buying. Nearly every thrift store I’ve ever been to has a dressing room. Don’t be a wuss. Just do it. Three dollars wasted, even if it is ONLY three dollar wasted, is…well, three dollars wasted.

·       Take time to dig. It’s why I find good stuff. People ask me all the time, “HOW did you find that? UGH! I want to come shopping with you!” “Well,” I tell them, “Come along next Saturday and wear comfortable shoes. Eat a turkey sandwich beforehand and make sure you grab a strong cup of coffee on the way.” J  Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but FREQUENT and THOROUGH perusing is exactly how I find my items.

·        Don’t be afraid of a little grunge. Sometimes I hear my friends say that they don’t care for stores that seem unorganized or dirty (this happens in the thrift world quite often). I get it…I love things to be clean and aesthetically pleasing as well. Yet, I’ve grown to appreciate the smell of a little grungy rummage shop because what I smell when I enter is a DEAL. Pretty=markup on prices. Deal with it!

·         Junk for Jesus. I’m actually not kidding! Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, mission thrifts like St. Vincent De Paul’s, Rescue Mission shops and ministry thrift stores are historically cheaper than corporate or independently owned shops. Also, they are most likely not for profit and their proceeds will go to noble causes like feeding those in need, etc.

·         If it’s broken, leave it behind. If I had a nickel for every broken item or artifact in disrepair I’ve “rescued” over the years…I could have paid for the garbage bags I’ve used clearing them out of my house. Unless it’s an item with patina or character that you love and will immediately find a niche on display at your home…leave it. You’ll never get around to fixing it. Trust me—I know.

·         Talk to people. Talk to cashiers and other folks who are thrifting/hunting to find out where their favorite digging spots are. You will uncover some valuable insight, I promise!

·         Ask about deals and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Learn to dicker and deal. Unless it is a corporation (and even then you can sometimes negotiate), a little haggling can go a long way.  My favorite spots usually have great prices…but when I see imperfections or an opportunity to reduce the price further, I take it! Gather your guts and make a deal…you’ll feel all powerful and smart afterwards!
·         Ask when new items are put out. Many employees will let you know how their inner system works (“We usually put new clothes out on Tuesdays”, etc.)

·         DO be a "brand whore". I won't often pay much for brand new things because, well...I'm cheap. However, I'm no fool. I fully understand the difference between a quality tailored jacket and a mass produced rag.  Do get to know quality brands and look for them. I own Vera Wang, Kate Spade, Coach, Micheal Kors, etc....because I thrifted carefully for those items. And I paid pennies.

·        Bring your pictures, check your Pinterest boards, mark your wish lists. Perusing secondhand with no goals is fun and a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon! However, if you are serious about building a great collection of any kind (particularly a wardrobe) go thrifting with GOALS in mind. Example: “I’m looking for a black blazer, short skirt with print, and a pair of nude heels”.  My thrift shopping experience got much smarter when I limited most of my purchases to “wish list” items. Otherwise, I found that I was notorious for coming home with repeat items that I ALREADY HAD IN MY CLOSET. Oh—you’re nodding your head now, right? Mmmhmmm.

Hope you've found these thrifting tips helpful! Don’t forget that if you live in the West Michigan area and you’d like a personal shopping trip and consultation, I’m giving one away with a makeoverand other prizes as a precursor to the awesome Thrift Trick Fashion Show and Clothes Drive in Muskegon, Michigan on December 8th, 2012!

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