A Little Thrift Shop 101

I was asked yesterday where I most often shop for clothing. I didn't have to think for very long - looking through my closet I realized that a good portion of my favorite clothes have come from thrift shops. Then I started looking around the rest of the house - there were many things that had come from thrift stores. Some of my favorite home decor, clothing, accessories and books have come from an expedition thrift shopping.

What better way to be frugal with you money in the current economy than to check out some of the local thrift shops. Many ladies do this on a regular basis anyway, but if you haven't been for a while you may need a refresher course on getting some bang for your buck.

1. Take some donations with you when you go. Do some sorting ahead of time and be ready to drop them off when you go shopping. Not only will you be helping the shop stay in business, but you'll be making room at home for you new purchases.

2. Know the stores' schedules. Some stock the first of the week, some late in the day...figure out (or just ask) when new items are stocked.

3. Also find out when your favorite stores have sale days. They will often lower prices on items that have been in the shop for a certain length of time, so you can get an even better deal.

4. Find our if your thrift stores will take a credit card. Some will and some won't, so just make sure that you have cash and your checkbook with you in case they won't take a card.

5. Go in with lots of patience. If you're clothes shopping, it can be difficult to find sizes in a thrift store unless you're willing to take some time. Many of my favorite pieces were "accidental" finds after I'd been in the store for a while. If you have a particular list of items you're looking for, you might be disappointed at first, but the best purchases can be the serendipitous finds.

6. Be prepared to do some digging. This kind of shopping isn't like going to the department store. Chances are clothes won't be grouped together in matching outfits, so find a few pieces and look for some others to mix and match them with. Look under, on top of and behind items on the shelves for even more goodies. Who knows what's in the bottom of that bin until you dig through the stuffed animals to find out. Don't just glance over the top of anything.

7. Try things on. Just because you find something beautiful doesn't mean that it will fit. Take the couple of extra minutes needed to check the size for sure.

8. Decide if you're willing to fix broken zippers, sew on buttons or refinish a piece of furniture. If the answer is yes and you love the item - BUY IT! If not, keep looking.

9. If you have to replace major parts, do a bunch of mending or buy additional pieces for it - DON'T BUY IT! You're supposed to be saving money, not creating more purchases.

10. Keep track of how much you're spending. A couple of dollars here and there won't seem like much until you get to the checkout with your two carts filled to the brim and have to dig for extra cash. Have fun, but be a smart shopper!


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