W2015 5: Nifty Thrift Store Tips

W2015 5: Take It Easy

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It's no great secret that I'm a huge fan of thrift stores. I've been frequenting them since I was a wee lass of thirteen. On my very first adventure, at Drop Yer Drawers in Spokane, I had just enough spending money to buy a pair of gently used supremely trashed knockoff Converse and some marvelously high-waisted bell-bottom jeans. Sadly, this meant abandoning a fierce yellow sweatshirt with a fetching red rose on the front -- not to mention all the 80s concert tees begging to go home with me. However does one make up their mind in such a secondhand haven?

First things first: the best* items to pounce on at thrift stores are accessories and shoes -- accessories because they're normally not very used, and shoes because they are. Some people are unsettled by putting their feet where someone else's have been. I ask those people to consider this:

    - Buying pre-worn shoes eliminates awful break-in periods. Goodbye, blisters!
    - You can filter out (and brazenly judge) cheaply-made footwear with a quick glance at the sole or the vamp.
    - You won't cry when you scuff them because some fool's already gone and done that.

The heeled booties represented above were discovered at a Buffalo Exchange for $15. The leather belt cost $5 at Value Village. Both have given me zero sass.

Know thy supplier. Consider your city; Where do the rich people live? When are they likely to get rid of stuff? I found this Banana Republic pinstripe blouse at the Bellevue Goodwill just after spring cleaning time. It was personally tailored (another pre-worn advantage!), but it looked as though it had never been worn since. For $8, it was a fantastic steal.

That said...

Always ask yourself why this item (especially a new-ish one) is here in the first place. Someone donated it for a reason. While one person's trash may very well be your treasure, beware buyer's remorse.
     - Spend enough time with/in the item to make sure it's comfortable.
     - Check seams for fraying. Hold the fabric up to a light to reveal holes or stains.
     - Give everything a sniff test for smoke or weird-house odors.
     - If it seduced you with its uniqueness, question whether it would complement at least three items in your current wardrobe.

When all decision-making power fails you, sleep on it. Thrift stores have this weird fate surround them; if it was meant to be yours, it will await your return.

* "The best" being herein synonymous with "my personal favorite."

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