Let’s talk thrifting. Perusing through a thrift store is one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. It helps that my favorite thrift store, the ARC, marks down their WHOLE STORE to 50% off every Saturday. On a recent trip to Target, Malcolm made the observation that his entire outfit he was wearing that day came from Target. When I looked down, I realized that my entire outfit, even the bandanna in my hair, came from a thrift store (excluding my underwear. That is the only thing I will not buy used — I have to draw the line somewhere.)
Why is now the absolute best time to search for treasures at your local thrift store? We can thank Marie Kondo’s smash hit on Netflix called Tidying Up. If you haven’t heard of the KonMari method, you are a bit late to the organization party. She teaches families how to declutter their homes by only keeping items that “spark joy”. Since this has become all anyone talks about (by anyone, I mean I bring it up at least once a day with someone new), thrift stores have just become a lot more interesting. On my recent Saturday trip to the ARC, I found so many gems that I spent more than I ever have in one go at the thrift store. I attribute this to the KonMari method inspiring a mass exodus of donated gems.
Whether you are a novice thrifter or an avid bargain hunter, here are a few tips that I would recommend to make your thrifting experience spark joy:
- Consider the area of town you’re in when choosing a store. This may seem obvious, but I just discovered how much this helps. My neighborhood is an amalgam of artists, cool families who won’t raise their children with a specific gender, and people who hunt prizes at thrift stores. This is not the best neighborhood to find gently used items, unless you’re looking for an obscure record from the 70s that no one’s heard about. On a recent weekend thrifting trip, I chose a thrift store nestled among houses owned by people who have a very healthy socioeconomic status. There, I purchased some of the best thrifting finds ever.
- Plan two or three things to search for ahead of time. Have you ever been in a large thrift, vintage, or antique store and felt overwhelmed and overstimulated? Ditto. To combat this, I choose two or three things on which to focus the majority of my energy for each trip. For the last two or three years, I’ve been searching for colorful vintage glassware to display as a rainbow of colors (duh.) a la Elsie Larson Every time I walk into a vintage store, I am on the lookout for certain colors of glassware, sugar bowls, cups, etc. Having a narrow purpose when shopping has greatly decreased the times when my palms get overwhelmed-by-the-selection sweaty.
- Shop sections that you wouldn’t shop in a department store. I’ve discovered so many comfy sweatshirts, plaid button down shirts, and workout tees in the Men’s section. I have also found some great jewelry in the children’s section that doesn’t look too juvenile when accessorized properly. Also, when people shop at thrift stores, they often walk with items in their carts and then abandon them when they realize they don’t want them no matter which section they’ve found themselves in. I’ve rescued so many misplaced, mislabeled items in the weirdest spots. It truly is a treasure hunt in which you have to think outside your go-to department store sections.
- Don’t be afraid to sift through the fitting room rack of discarded clothes. See something intriguing on the rack stationed just outside the fitting room? Don’t be afraid to look at the racks of clothing that other people have tried on and discarded. Those pieces caught someone’s eye but for whatever reason were left behind. Years ago, I spotted a hint of salmon colored fabric on the fitting room rack. When I pulled on the fabric, I unearthed the most beautiful coral dress with a Target label that was just my size. Mmm, that’s the thrift store magic.