Since this blog is called Thriftburgher, I think I've been long overdue for some great thrifting tips to share. I have years of thrifting experience, whether it be at thrift stores, flea market, rummage sales, you name it. I probably have enough experience that it would be resume-worthy if it were ever relevant.
Make a list.
The map pictured above is from a neighborhood garage sale Mark and I went to a few months back. It was heaven, because every garage sale was listed with what kinds of items they each had. We hit up clothes and housewares for me, and sports memorabilia for Mark.
Unfortunately, most garage sales don't make things that easy. I usually try to make a list, whether it's in my head or typed up in my phone, of things I'm looking for. It could be a belt for an outfit, a quirky bag, a teapot. Whatever the case may be, make a list. Because thrifting can be a dizzying/overwhelming/forgetful experience.
Be open minded.
Sometimes, there's that one item that doesn't seem quite right, but has so much great potential. Usually for me, it's a dress with a great print, with some unfortunate side effects: Sleeves, full length, shoulder pads. But don't worry. The 80's didn't ruin it. A great imagination and some willpower can go far. That was the exact fate of this dress, which I wore to a spring wedding awhile back:
While I wouldn't do this every time I go to the thrift store, sometimes, that potential item is simply worth picking up.
Also: I love reading The Refashionista, because she transforms seemingly hopeless outfits into great, current pieces. I am always inspired by her work.
This might seem contradictory for the last tip, but hear me out.
On clothes, always check for tears, stains and (when possible) fit. There are so many great things that were in my shopping cart that got tossed back because I found something wrong with it. This is especially notorious in thrift stores. Even if the tag is in your size, double check fit. A lot of times, clothes are hanging in the thrift store because they shrunk in the wash. I would also make sure zippers work, and check for any missing buttons. One exception are for tears within seams. I have a sewing machine, and since those can be easily fixed, I would make sure I really want that item.
Same thing with housewares, glasses, dishes. Is there fading? Any chips? Just remember you deserve the best. Inspect thoroughly and throw it back if there are too many imperfections.
There are times when thrifting is frustrating. Sometimes, I've been looking for a very specific item, to no avail. Looking for ugly Christmas sweaters in December? Forget it.
Sometimes, it just takes time. I find that if I'm looking for a summery item, it's best to look in the winter, and vice versa. Most shoppers are thinking in the now. Think ahead! Or, perhaps the item you're looking for is just too specific. If you're looking for your favorite American Eagle sweatshirt that your dad shrunk in the wash, except not shrunk and in your size, you're probably out of luck. Find a new favorite.
Just remember, there's so much out there. There's no need to fuss. You'll most likely find what you need, as long as you give it time.