Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Ten Commandments of Thrifting

I'll be the first to admit that I have a shopping problem.
The problem is that I don't get to do enough ;)
I LOVE to shop, and I love clothes, as my last post detailed completely redoing my closet I'm sure it's no surprise to you all that I am a total clothes horse. Where did that saying come from anyways???
Since we moved to a bigger town I have found the remedy to what ails me!

Thrift Shopping!
Don't get me wrong, I thrifted pretty often in our last spot, but donations weren't as great, the material only got rotated out every few months, and it just wasn't quite my scene. Where we live in Utah we have what is lovingly referred to as the D.I., short for Deseret Industries. This is a HUGE thrift store chain that you can find throughout Utah, Idaho, Arizona and a few other spots and they are AMAZING! For whatever reason people love to donate to the D.I. resulting in lots of items to shop from and I love to shop there! In the three months we have been here I have been there 4-5 times. Each time I find new stuff, great deals, and I notice that I'm not just cycling through the stuff I saw last time which is nice. They move a lot of product, and I can appreciate that.

Over these visits I have found some fun stuff I am going to share with you all today, and a few tips I have learned on the way, " The Ten Commandments of Thrifting" if you will,  which you may or may not have picked up on yourself.

1.Shop in season. Not only will they have more of what season you are in, or about to go into to, but then you can wear it right away which is not only exciting, but can insure that the item will fit if you wear it within two weeks of purchasing, rather than 6 months.
I really wanted to buy winter clothes over the summer and had zero luck at any thrift stores through Arizona, New Mexico AND Utah. Lesson learned.

2.Shop your current size. I know, I know you hear it in every women's magazine article ever, but more often than not if you buy something in the wrong size in hopes that the piece will be inspirational, or "this will be good for later", you generally (if you are like me) will just end up sticking it in the spare room, or in the back of your closet and you may forget about it and then it's been eight months and all you can think is, "Where did this come from?" and "This doesn't even fit, how discouraging.". Save the time and money and buy stuff that fits right this very moment and that you can enjoy now!

3.Buy like new. When you buy thrift items that need some sort of repair we tend to put them by the wayside and forget about them. Also, who wants to buy something and then have to mend a bunch of stuff...I don't even get to the mending of stuff I bought new and wore out. I like to wash and wear when I thrift shop, if I can't wash and wear it, I don't buy it.

4.Be choosy. It can be easy to buy a lot at thrift stores because things are so inexpensive, but I live by the "Love It" rule. If I don't walk out excited by the piece, or regretting that I didn't pick it up in an instant to insure someone else doesn't snag it, then I probably don't love it, and I will live without it.
I don't want to buy a bunch of t-shirts that are just so-so to fill up a closet when I can have two or three pieces that I am super excited to wear and make me feel fantastic.

5. Exchange! Not all thrift stores have an exchange policy, but the ones that do be sure to utilize! I bought a pair of shoes the other day that I thought I would love but once I got them home I saw that they didn't really fit my wardrobe and I still had the original tags, receipt and it was within the allotted days of return. I took them back, got in store credit and got one of the above dresses instead!

6. Go often. If you can, try to stop by often, even if it's only for five minutes between kid pickups and doctors appointments. Do a quick sweep of your favorite spots (furniture, shoes, art, etc.), and be back the next week or two to check them out again, this is how you get really great finds. Most people don't have time to stop by a lot, but I know some people who work from home that go once a week and have found famous original art, impeccable furniture pieces, funky costumes and some stellar brand name clothing all because they frequent their favorite spots.

7. Have a budget. I go in knowing I have $20 for two weeks worth of thrifting and I see what I can do with that. Some mom and pop shops will be willing to haggle, but some stops not so much. Give it a shot and see what you can get, it never hurts to ask.

8. Know when to say no. There are a few things I won't buy at thrift stores; underwear, lingerie, bed sheets, beauty products, to name a few. Everyone has different ideas of what is ok to buy used, you'll have to decide that for yourself, but please keep safety and sanitation at the top of your priority list! Also, sometimes you just have to use your better judgment and know when an item just won't look as great in your closet, or in your home, as it looks amongst all the other junk treasures surrounding it.

I almost took this fun guy home, I love the kitschy look, but the giant crack in the top and my husbands lack of enthusiasm persuaded me otherwise.

9. Know when to make an exception. Every once in a blue moon you will find something that defies all odds of logic or common sense, this item HAS to go home with you or you might just die right there in the middle of the hoards of 1970's furniture. This item is your thrifting unicorn. This is a very special rule, be careful not to abuse it, but every once in a while you will find an item that just makes you cry with happiness. Whether it is a abstract velvet bull fighter paining, or a clown clock that whistles at you, this item has to live with you forever despite what your logic tells you. Be careful what you choose as your unicorn, you only get a few! But absolutely have fun with it.

10. Wash everything! Just do it. Before anything else, everything must be appropriately washed and or sanitized.

I love thrifting! I often walk in the door not knowing exactly what I am looking for, but what I find is always fun (and sometimes I don't find anything which is fine too!). Use these suggestions as guidelines on your own thrifting adventures. Thrifting is great for me because it combines my limited shopping budget with my love to shop and my longing for quarkiness. There is really really really something out there for everyone.

Give it a shot and share your best finds with us, and any other great tips! If I get enough of your cool finds I will do a compilation post!

*All items pictured above (excluding amazing table) were found at thrift stores and now happily live in my closet*


  1. I think the "no mending" rule is personal, not universal. I don't mind mending--I do it (or, if my basket is empty, I will do things like embroider embellishment to cover that teeny coffee stain on a favorite top) on a weekly basis anyway. If I really love a thrift store item and the repair needed is small and well within my abilities, I will buy it and mend it anyway. But, again, I like mending and don't let it pile up (now, there are other things I do let pile up, I'm not being smug here), so that works for me.

  2. 11. Inspect ALL zippers, buttons, snaps, buckles, etc. to make sure they work, and do a quick double check before paying to make sure you didn't miss any little holes or irreversible stains. It's such a bummer to come home with something you're super excited about only to realize a zipper is broken and you wasted your money and enthusiasm.

  3. Apropos 'giant crack'--love that crazy rock-mineral table--, check out really carefully all ceramic, glass and other 'crack-able' items for hairline breaks, tiny chips and the old 're-glue' repairs before buying. I've often been in the throws of 'I gotta have it' and have not seen what should have been obvious flaws until standing in line to pay. :S

  4. I love to buy my kid's clothes at thrift stores. My favorite thrift store has baby and toddler items for $1 each (I've bought a Gap dress there for that price!) Women's size jeans are just $3, so I buy those for my oldest daughter who's as tall as I am. Women don't wear out their clothes like kids do (and she doesn't like the junior styles-hallelujah!) I also find great work shirts for me thrifting.

  5. You got me wondering about "clothes horse" too, so, I had to look it up on etymology.com:

    clothes-horse (n.)
    also clothes horse, "upright wooden frame for hanging clothes to dry," 1788, from clothes + horse (n.). Figurative sense of "person whose sole function seems to be to show off clothes" is 1850.

  6. bedding, for the crafters, is awesome. Many a doona cover or sheet has gone into rag rugs at my place. Odd pj parts (big and little peoples) have made their way into cloth pads, and wipes - if you know your local thrift store people they might be willing to keep aside things too holey or stained to sell for repurposing. Don't overlook the 'craft' section either. One can find treasure there, even if it is just salvaged buttons.


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