A professional’s advice

fdc0bb5131f4a2cad3f10358d9b4be67.jpgYou’ve all read my words on a screen, but now you have the chance to listen to my voice as I list off my top ten easy pointers when it comes to secondhand shopping. After browsing the racks and shelves of different types of thrift stores for over six years, I’ve condensed by endless advice into three short minutes.

Just click on this link to listen: Download this episode (right click and save)

By listening to this podcast, you will be ready to fully embrace the thrifting lifestyle and get the most out of your visits.

Thrifting no-no’s

A thrift store’s stock includes nearly everything: clothing, accessories, jewelry, purses, toys, books, movies, electronics, furniture, household items, etc. Most of the time, the items you buy are in relatively good condition, which indicates that the item is durable because it survived the first or second user and passed the thrift store’s standard for selling. However, even though an item passed the store’s standards does not mean you should spend money on it and become its next user.

According to common sense, a Buzzfeed article and my own experience, there are several specific items and categories that you should steer clear of when you’re browsing. Most of these items have been intimately or intensely handled by their previous owners, and they are therefore items that you should not shell out money to own.

Item #1: Bowling shoesnot-to-buy-at-thrift-store-stuffed-animals

Item #2: Cosmetics

Item #3: Stuffed animals

Item #4: Wigs, hats

Item #5: Electronics: phones, televisions, VCRs, computers, etc. 

Item #6: Underwear, bras, socks

Item #7: Bed sheets, mattresses, pillows

Carbon footprint shrinkage

feature_recycleYou receive several benefits by choosing to shop at a thrift store: you spend less of YOUR money and have the chance to develop a unique style that is all YOURS! But did you ever stop to think about the benefits that go beyond you? By choosing to purchase reused clothing, you’re helping the environment. Give yourself a little pat on the back.

By purchasing and wearing pre-worn items, you’re decreasing the quantity of pollution and waste that adversely affect the environment. If more people with your mindset shopped at secondhand stores then there’d be fewer new items being produced. This decrease would drastically reduce the amount of energy, toxic chemicals and petroleum being released into the environment and atmosphere.

Ninety-eight percent of the clothing that is bought in the United States is from foreign countries (ABC News). This means that brand new items travel a HUGE distance to reach the racks of the department stores. When you purchase a reused piece of clothing you are eliminating the travel time/transportation pollution that a newly produced item would need after being manufactured.

Items sold in thrift stores are durable. How do I know? They’re durable because they lasted through their first user in a good enough condition to be accepted and sold by a thrift store. Instead of being a piece of garbage lying useless in a landfill somewhere, these items are hanging on a rack awaiting their second or third user. Another great thing is that thrift store items lack unessential packaging. Most of the time, items in thrift stores include no kind of plastic wrapping or cardboard boxes at all. However, new items, whether purchased in-store or online are being suffocated by mounds of plastic, cardboard, tissues or tags that inevitabily end up in the trash.

So you see? Now when you walk out of a thrift store, you’ll have a big smile on your face for three solid reasons. Reason #1: you just saved yourself some hard-earned money. Reason #2: you just purchased a new style that no one else will have. Reason #3: you’re doing your part to preserve the environment, and all you did was a little secondhand shopping.

Reaping bargains

As previously mentioned, there’s a plethora of benefits associated with thrift shopping. Ten reasons why thrift stores are awesome, written by Katherine Martinko, discusses the  greatest advantages secondhand shopping offers. A few of these advantages weren’t even on my radar until stumbling across this article, which speaks volumes considering how long I’ve been surfing the thrift store racks.

Thrift store items are typically higher quality simply by virtue of being there.

I’ve purchased items in the past that looked brand new. Many people imagine thrift store clothing to be grungy and dirty, but that’s hardly ever the case. By being on the racks, these clothing items are notably durable because they’ve lasted through multiple owners. I’ve received numerous compliments on the clothes I’ve bought from second-hand stores. It’s always funny to see the look on people’s faces when I reveal how much I paid.

Thrift stores are an opportunity to develop your own unique sense of style.

By shopping in thrift stores, you open yourself up to a variety of styles. Regular stores tend to specialize in select styles and advertise to target market segments. For example, Hot Topic is geared towards the punk, goth crowd whereas Victoria Secret serves the female population. This is why thrift stores are special. They incorporate every kind of style into one place, which makes their target market extensive.

There are really fabulous finds on all the racks at a thrift store.

It does take a great deal of patience to shop in thrift stores. This is mostly because of the amount of merchandise physically crammed onto the racks and shelves, which comes from the constant donations. However, if you possess the virtue of patience and a good eye for style then you’ll discover some awesome treasures!

There are no hovering salespeople waiting to make a commission off your purchase.

The one thing I’ve always disliked about department stores is being approached and questioned by salespeople. I know it’s their job, and they make commission off of our potential purchases, but they tend to be annoying and abrasive. Shopping at a thrift store eliminates the nagging and let’s you shop on your own without feeling like you’re being watched.

$20 in my pocket

macklemoreWithin the past couple years, shopping at thrift stores and wearing vintage clothing is budding into a more popular option among the general populations. When the smash hit Thrift Shop was released by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in the summer of 2012, I knew thrift stores were returning to mainstream style. This song’s catchy lyrics resonate with the benefits and truths behind shopping at secondhand stores.

After doing a little background digging into this hip hop hit, I discovered that Macklemore and I share a mutual interest in saving money by purchasing secondhand clothing and accessories, and we also share a mutual disdain for expensive designer labels. No wonder he repeats being able to purchase multiple items with only twenty dollars in the song’s chorus.

I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket. 

This song is an accurate portrayal about the amount of money you can save on the same kind of clothing you’d normally be spending hundreds of dollars on somewhere else. Thrift stores include unique items that will allow the wearer to build their own style from scratch, even if it’s made up of old man clothes. Your creative style will allow you to disregard the paranoia of running into someone wearing the same top or jacket as you.

I wear your granddad’s clothes, I look incredible. I’m in that big ass coat from that thrift shop down the road.

They be like, Oh, that Gucci. That’s hella tight. I’m like, Yo that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt. Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. Fifty dollars for a T-shirt, that’s just some ignorant b***s***. I call that getting swindled and pimped. I call that getting tricked by a business. That shirt’s hella dope and having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t.

So take Macklemore’s advice and go pop some thrift store tags – even if it’s only twenty dollars that you have burning a hole in your pocket!

Plato’s Closet Paradise

25ba6275-b851-49f6-89e0-c39a604e4369To some, thrift stores have become known as the outlet to find the cheapest clothes. The stores are depicted as unsanitary and disorganized. In addition, people who choose to shop at these stores are stereotyped as stingy, tacky and poor. However, while thrift stores are not the equivalent to a five star hotel, they are still relatively clean, functional places of business. While there are several different chains in existence, the one that wins the award for having the most stylish, contemporary items is Plato’s Closet.

Plato’s Closet channels its business towards high school and college students. This is primarily because they understand the need for these individuals to save money while still sporting the latest trends. Their store items fit nearly every style whether you’re going for goth, preppy, chic, sporty, vintage or hipster. Their strategy for updating their clothing and accessory selections is through purchasing items from their customers. All you have to do is bring in currently trendy attire, and you’ll receive cash on the spot.

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In addition to receiving money for your name brand clothing and accessories, you will enjoy Plato’s relaxing environment. From the alternative music to comfy seating, you’ll be able to comfortably shop for hours. You’ll sift through and have to pick and choose between attractive choices. I have been to Plato’s Closet dozens of times, but the greatest purchase was a fitted leather jacket for only 10 dollars. I would definitely recommend that you take some time, save some bucks and check out Plato’s Closet.