If you tell me you love my son’s outfit, I am going to tell you where I got it AND how much I paid for it. I can’t stop myself. Something inside me NEEDS you to know about the deals you can get thrifting. If you’re new to shopping “pre-loved”, here’s what you need to know:
#1 – Every Visit is A New Experience
Sometimes you go thrifting, and you leave empty handed. You’ll go through dry spells where it seems like there’s just nothing good left to be found. Then, one day you’ll hit the mother load or find something you didn’t even know you wanted.
It’s a lot like gambling. The high from the good day will override the weeks where you left empty handed and smelling slightly of mothballs.
Many thrift shops have a “color of the week” deal. Clothes marked with that color receive an extra percentage off. Ask the employees what day of the week these change so you can have the largest selection to choose from.
Different stores tend to have different strengths. You’ll find that some stores keep better childrens’ sections while others always seem to have your favorite women’s clothing brands.
City or neighborhood-wide garage sale days are the Superbowl of thrifting. That also means there will be massive crowds, fair-weather shoppers, and people looking to make a quick buck. You have room temperature bottled water for sale next to your cash box for twice what you paid for it? Do you REALLY think I didn’t bring my own giant insulated cup? You underestimate my stinginess.
# 2 – Consignment is NOT the Same Thing As Thrifting
Consignment stores (or events) require an entirely different mindset. If you are willing to pay a little more to hunt a whole lot less, these might be a good match for you! Personally, I find them to be overwhelming. I leave feeling like I was just in a Mom vs. Mom competition and even though I have three bags of name brand basically-new clothes to show for it, I still can’t believe I just spent that much money in such a small amount of time. I don’t have enough restraint for consignment shopping, that’s what it really comes down to.
#3 – Help is Helpful
Make it well-known that you love a deal, and people have a way of making sure you know about them. I get tipped off to garage sales with quality boy clothes or great toys. My mother-in-law even buys items for us if she thinks I might not be able to get to them quickly enough! This is especially helpful if you try to buy through online garage sale sites, where baby goods are swooped up within minutes.
#4 – Be Prepared
I could pretend they don’t, but a lot of these stores smell (not usually with consignment shops, another point in their favor). I try to go “treasure hunting” before I take my shower.
Going before naptime is another key factor if you’ll be toting active littles. Bring a bag of goodies to keep their hands busy. When my son was still a baby, I would wear him and let him nap while I shopped. In fact, my son was less than 48 hours old when he joined me on his first thrifting adventure!
You’ll also need plenty of storage. Keep plastic bins labeled for your child’s next three sizes.
It keeps you from buying too far ahead, but also keeps you organized when they are ready to move up a size. I place them in unwashed immediately after buying. I remove the tags and wash the entire tub at once before hanging them rather than washing each time I buy an item.
# 5 – Pricing
My rule of thumb is that I want to pay about 25 cents per wear. If it’s $1.49 (standard pricing), he better be able to wear it 6 times before he outgrows it. What if you just really, really love something? If I think that I could re-sell it at a garage sale (or virtual garage sale site) for the same or more than the purchase price, I can justify buying it.
BONUS TIP :: Spring for the $4 Preferred Customer card at Goodwill.
It’s $4, but it saves you 10% each time you shop (20% on Wednesdays!). If you are going to spend $50 or more within the year then it’s yet another way to take your thrifting to the next level.