Friday, June 14, 2013

7 Rules of Thrift Shopping

So I'm on a thrift shopping high at the moment (new stuff to make into other stuff!) and following up on something I started on Twitter this week, I'm going to share my rules for thrift shopping.

Rule #1: You can't go back and expect something to still be there, not even an hour later. 
I generally subscribe to the "Go away and think about it before you drop the cash" mentality, but this doesn't really apply to thrift stores, especially in heavy traffic stores! Grab it while you can (assuming it's not cost prohibitive) or regret it forevermore. I can think of quite a few items that I wish I had gotten at the time and didn't. A shrug here, some satin flats in Harrisonburg, a Calvin Klein drape sweater in Arizona that I bypassed under the misguided lack of suitcase space assumption. I've learned my lesson. Those regrets are on me. Don't let it happen to you.

Rule #2: Never buy secondhand underwear. 
Ew. Not even if you're going to use it for something else. Double ew. Don't....just don't. 

Rule #3: Know your time and effort limits for repair. 
Missing buttons on a jacket and small holes are easy to fix, and worth doing to make a piece wearable again. Some furniture just needs some cleaning or a quick strip and refinish. Don't pass up a thing with a minor ding you can easily fix. BUT figure out how much time are you actually willing to out into rehabbing a damaged item. Are you going to end up spending more to fix it than the cost of the thing when it was new?  Some things cannot be salvaged, no matter how hard you try. Also, avoid anything buggy. Un-infesting is too much trouble and you run the risk of spreading it to your existing non buggy stuff.

Rule #4: Keep an open mind about purpose.
You don't have to use that shirt for the intended purpose of being a shirt. It can become something else. Example, that baby sling that became a purse for me. Even if that dress cut is horrible, you can use the cool fabric for something else, or redo a la Marisa's New Dress A Day Project (and lots of others).

Rule #5: Know What's Worth Getting
Certain brands of jeans fit me better, and I will usually buy those every time I come across them. Hurley shirts usually have enough shoulder room for me. There are certain accessory companies I know put out higher quality stuff. That's not to say I won't buy a name I've never heard of before, but if I know something still has a long life left, I'll make the effort.

Rule #6: Be ready to dig.
Not all the good stuff is going to be just lying on top, easily visible. Look at ALL the jeans. If a print catches your eye, stop and look at what it belongs to. Look for fabrics that feel nice, and good classic pieces. I'm STILL wearing my gray peacoat that I found like 4 years ago (albeit with some lining repairs) for $6. Classic. People bury stuff in racks, either on purpose or being stupid. Make the effort to find them. Yes, it will take some time. Your patience will be rewarded.

Rule #7: Wash that stuff.
Not everyone is nice and washes before they donate. Something really might smell like R. Kelly's sheets. If it's dry clean only, either take it or use Dryel. A quick vinegar tinged wipe down is good for wood furniture, and you can bleach glass and plastics (like kids toys). Shoes get Lysol or vinegar spray. Whatever it is, there IS a way to clean it.

And if you think that this post was just a partial excuse to watch the Thrift Shop video, well...duh.

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