I love thrift stores.
Let me start over.
Shopping gives me terrible guilt, and thrift stores set all of that free. I used to like shopping, until Wall-E. Yes, Wall-E the movie. It is not a children’s movie. It is a terrible, dark, realistic picture of North American commercial excess taken to its logical conclusion. Let’s all buy and buy and buy until we need to get into a spaceship and fly around the universe for 700 years. Oh my god. Wall-E has ruined my life.
|Damn you, adorable robot!|
I can’t buy anything anymore without thinking about whether I really need it. Which doesn’t actually sound like a bad thing, especially in the context of being frugal a la Shopping Detox, I suppose.
So thank goodness for thrift stores. I can give clothing a new life and keep it out of the landfill, I can have fun shopping without agonizing about every little purchase, I can clothe my family, and I can do it without hurting my pocketbook too badly.
I don’t know everything there is to know about successful thrifting, but I have set a few rules for myself over the years that seem to work for me:
|1. Don’t ever buy anything secondhand that doesn’t look fabulous, or work perfectly.|
|2. Don’t expect to find what you need the first time you go to the thrift store.|
|3. Expect to find perfect, unexpected things that you must-must-must have, but don’t buy the farm.|
One of the joys of thrift shopping is the random nature of it. You need to bring enough cash to help you grab opportunities when they come up, but you need to not go broke all in one day. If I can’t afford to purchase something wonderful and unexpected, I just don’t go thrift shopping. I don’t look, so I’m not tempted. Or I go in with blinders on, if I really need to get a raincoat today, or a paint shirt, or some wool for my son’s weaving project. If I do decide that I could take some shopping risks, though, I expect that I might have to spend some cash out there.
|4. Pay attention to what each thrift store is good at.|
I go to all the local stores regularly, so I can watch trends. Some are good at housewares, some have cheap kids’ clothes, some consignment stores are the absolute right place to find a cocktail dress. I decided a long time ago that I won’t buy brand new bedsheets. I will buy them secondhand with a few rules: they need to be a solid colour so I can mix and match (and bleach the hell out of them the first time out), and they need to be not too worn before I get them. Once in a blue moon I score big with linen, because I pay attention to which store gets nice donations of household items. It’s nice to think that someone’s treasured hope chest linen sheets will get a new life with me.
|5. Thrift stores in affluent areas are going to have fancy stuff.|
|6. Better Than Guilt-free!|
Now, after all that talk, I feel like shopping. Guilt-free of course.