I didn’t wake up Friday morning planning to go thrifting, but when an opportunity arose … I snatched it. It all started when my dad returned from walking the dog. “Hey Amy, a house on the next block is getting rid of a sectional couch for free. Might be good for your new apartment.” I’ll be moving out of my parents’ house and into my first solo apartment in October, so I’m in the process of rounding up furniture and other necessities. And a couch, especially a FREE couch, was definitely on my list.
My mom and I quickly visited the next street to take a gander but were disappointed with what we found. This couch was a mess. Stains and bird poop (it was settled under a tree) covered this cream-colored leather sectional. “You can do better Amy. Plus, you don’t have to have a couch the day you move in.” I knew she was right, so we moved on. She’d mentioned earlier that our neighborhood was having some garage sales, so we did a quick lap and visited five of them.
“Even though I didn’t plan to go garage sale hunting, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy it spontaneously happened.”
We each scored treasures. My collection included two shirts (each $1), a skirt ($1), a collared shirt for my boyfriend ($1), a flower painting (for my apartment – $2) and a Royals World Series signature frame (birthday present for my Dad – $4). I spent $10 in total. Simply amazing.
You all know how much I love 50% off sales at thrift stores. Clothing and accessories that are already inexpensive are marked down even more. It’s incredible what you end up spending. Last time I was at City Thrift I signed up for their scheduled text alerts. Now every time there’s an upcoming sale there, my phone beeps. They hosted a Labor Day 50% off everything sale on September 1st and 2nd.
After I got off work on Friday, Sept. 1st, I went there to see what I could find. The parking lot was packed when I got there around 2 p.m. The store’s exterior was decorated with balloons and banners to draw in customers. When I walked in I saw people everywhere! This worried me because the aisles in City Thrift are very narrow, which makes it difficult for more than one person to occupy an aisle simultaneously. However, I was already there and I wasn’t leaving empty-handed. I strategized when to visit each section based on how other customers shifted.
“As great as thrift store 50% off sales are, there’s one downside: competing with dozens of other customers. However, if you’re patient and strategic, you can still strike gold.”
Despite the crowds, I never had to wait in line for the dressing rooms (and there are only three stalls in total). As I moved from aisle to aisle, I filled my cart an assortment of items: blouses, skirts, dresses, capris, and shoes. After two visits to the dressing room, I finalized my options. Before I visited the register, I calculated my total cost plus a 50% off discount. After over an hour of searching and finding new treasures, I was eager to leave. Crowded thrift stores always get on my nerves, especially in a store where getting past people in narrow aisles is difficult and annoying.
I finally walked out of there a little before 4 p.m. feeling amazing. I snagged four shirts, one pair of khaki capris, two skirts, one pair of shoes, a DVD, one sweater, a dress and a belt. This purchase cost me only $30 after tax. A very worthwhile visit.
Since I started my full-time job two months ago, I’ve been watching what I spend on non-essential items and activities like clothes, accessories and eating out. This has cut down on my thrift store visits. It’s been really hard to ignore the 50% sale emails I get from Savers and City Thrift. Being a hardcore thrifty fashionista comes with responsibility and a need for strong discipline. It’s difficult to keep myself in check when cute $4 tops and $6 jeans surround me in every aisle of my favorite stores, so it’s better not to go at all.
“Do not save what you have left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffet
However, saving is worth it when I know what I’m saving for: my dream apartment. After sealing the deal last night, I’m now in waiting mode until October 7 when I pick up my keys at 10 a.m. and start moving in. Even though waiting for two months is tough, I’m glad I have extra time. I’ll have the chance to figure out how I want to furnish and decorate. Right now, I’m sleeping on a pullout couch in my parents’ basement. I have some kitchenware saved from my last apartment but am lacking in the furniture department.
Since my grandma passed away back in March, my grandpa has been living in their house by himself. There is more stuff than you could imagine. I’ve already talked to him about taking one of the guest bedroom beds off his hands. Best part, it’s FREE. Hopefully, he will have more furniture pieces he’s ready to part with so I can avoid spending more than I need to transform this 618-sq./ft. apartment into my home.
After accepting donations from family and friends, I will be turning to thrift stores – one in particular: Blessings Abound. This Christian, volunteer-run store is mainly comprised of furniture, which is why I haven’t bought very much from them. Normally, I wouldn’t trust buying a used-couch, but my mom said she’s seen items that look brand new, so who knows what I’ll find. The most important thing is to use thrift stores as a last resort. First I need to see what all I can gather together that doesn’t cost me a dime.
Have you ever needed something, and after searching multiple stores, you’re left empty-handed? You know exactly what you’re looking for. The picture in your head captures every detail, from color to size, but everywhere you look you can’t find the real thing. It’s agonizing, isn’t it? All you want to do is summon all the magic in the universe and snap your fingers and have it appear in your eager hands.
My item of desire was a large, professional black bag. While job-hunting I was trying to find one to bring to interviews. Of course, I wasn’t going to immediately cave and spend 50+ dollars. I could’ve walked into a department store and found what I wanted in a heartbeat, but a true thrifty fashionista doesn’t give up. I’d already looked through the purse racks at several thrift stores with no success. I was forced me to attend my interviews bag-less.
Once I landed a job, I had two weeks before my start date. I’d lost hope in finding my dream bag. Then a week before I started, I wanted to buy new khakis. I chose a thrift store I hadn’t visited in a while, City Thrift on Antioch and College Blvd. After adding a couple pairs to my cart, I decided to visit the purse rack.
In less than a minute, I stumbled upon not ONE, but TWO bags. I couldn’t believe it. The first bag was black, medium-sized with a strap that fits over my shoulder. It featured a spacious interior that would fit my wallet, keys, phone and lunch box. The inscription read “COVERGIRL” – a fantastic brand! The second bag wasn’t black, but it was one of my favorite colors – purple. The straps were attached with silver hoops. I couldn’t let this bag go to someone else. By getting both I’d have a color-coordinating opportunity.
For a thrift store, these bags were a tad pricey. Each one was around $9, but when you compare that to a department store, I lucked out! I left the store with two pairs of khakis and two bags – for only $37. When it came down to the wire, a thrift store had my back. I walked in on my first day with my dream bag slung over my shoulder. Thanks, City Thrift!
I shop at secondhand stores for several reasons.
- Less expensive
- Unique clothing options
- Helps the environment
Thrift stores normally fulfill my clothing, sometimes they can’t. Thrift shopping is the equivalent of a treasure hunt. The analogy is two-fold: you find amazing treasures, but you can also come up empty. Several weeks ago I received a call about a high-level job interview. The position was for the judicial branch in Topeka, KS. I knew my regular interview outfit wouldn’t cut it. I needed a new skirt, blouse, and blazer FAST!
My game plan was visiting thrift stores, but I realized I wasn’t going to make the best impression with pre-worn clothing. I knew I needed to spend more to help me land the job. I visited Kohl’s, JcPenney’s, Macy’s, Stein Mart and Dress Barn. The downside about being a hardcore thrifter is every time I look at a department store price tag, I gag. This is why the first rack I browse is always clearance.
Stein Mart had a black blazer for $39.99; Macy’s had a black pencil skirt for $29.99, and JcPenney’s had a white blouse for $19.99 – I assembled my entire outfit for less than $100. This experience demonstrated that while thrifting is wonderful, it doesn’t hurt to spend a little extra every once in a while – especially when you need to look your absolute best.
“I’m not against department stores. I like to wear whatever looks good on me for a fair price, no matter where it comes from. “
One of my friends recently got married. To celebrate her return from her honeymoon, we spent the day thrift shopping. Since she was new to OP, she’d been finding new places to shop. Our first stop was a place called TurnStyles. TurnStyles is run through Catholic Charities.
“As a self-identified thrift store expert and fashionista, I couldn’t believe I’d never visited TurnStyles – mostly because I’m Catholic! I give it two 👍🏼👍🏼. It’s now my new favorite store because of its lower prices, clean environment and organization.”
I was impressed with its organization. Everything had its place: women’s, men’s, children’s, furniture, books/movies, household items, and shoes. WE spent most of our time sifting through the women’s racks. After one dressing room trip, we found some winners. For me, it was a blue-checkered flannel, a purple polka-dot sweater, and a cream tank. My total was $9.65.
The reason it’s less expensive than other thrift stores is that each rack has one price. For example, items on the women’s racks were $3. This made it easy to calculate my total before getting to the register. Even though it’s smaller than Savers and City Thrift, it’s got a trendy vibe and a cleaner feel and smell. Normally my allergies start flaring up from the collection of dust, but that didn’t happen. It was a nice change!
It’s no surprise that most thrift stores sell gift cards.
Most people, especially my family, know about my obsession for “the hunt.” The happiness I feel when perusing racks, article by article, not knowing when my eyes are going to land on a treasure. The satisfaction I feel when I step up to the register to pay for the exact items I needed. There’s a reason I call thrifting a lifestyle, and that is because it’s more of a routine for me than for most people.
I admit to going thrifting at least 2 times a month depending on the advertised sales. The holidays are a big time for thrifting, which is why my brother’s Christmas gift to me was appropriate. He knows how often I’m running out to skim thrift store inventory. He knows how much I love saving money while looking good. So he gave me a $20 Savers gift card for Christmas.
“The best thing about receiving gift cards is you can buy what you want, and in return you don’t have to worry about returns or exchanges. It’s a win-win.”
You may look at a $20 gift card and think, “That isn’t going to go very far,” but you’d be wrong. Twenty dollars in a department store is a joke, but in a thrift store, it’s a different story. So far I’ve used the gift card to buy two items I needed for a wedding: a dress and a sweater. The dress was a surprise. I was browsing formal dress-wear when I pulled out a cute little number to get a closer look. It was a navy blue, lace dress. It fit well and was only $7.49 (hardly worn). To make matters better, I had a 30% coupon – I only spent $5.25.
A few days later I got an email about a 50%-off-everything sale. Not wanting to miss out, I dragged my tired butt to Savers at 7 p.m. to find a sweater to go with my dress. I chose a knitted brown/tan sweater – only $3.99 after 50% off. These two fashion-forward items claimed only half my gift card. In a department store, I would’ve spent more than five times that amount to find what I needed.
Here’s my advice: gift giving shouldn’t cause stress. It should be a time of joy and appreciation for loved ones. In addition to telling them how much they’re loved, show them with the gift of saving money and buying whatever they want.