By: Cassie Goodwin
This Part Two of Goodwin’s series on how to shop at second hand/thrift stores. Did you miss the two great pieces of advice in Part One? Check it out here.
The Hard Yards
People always express amazement at my second hand finds, but don’t seem to believe me when I tell them they could find stuff just as good, if they just put in the time. I think perhaps they just don’t actually want to take the time to do it. And man, have I put in the time.
There are six second hand stores in a straight line by bus from my house – I know all their opening hours, and what order I should hit them in order to maximise results. I know these things because I visit them SO OFTEN. I’m not talking every day – well, not since I got a full time job anyway. But I drop in at least once a fortnight, otherwise I feel like I’m missing out; there might bargains just lurking there in the dust crying for my cash.
When I hit each of these stores, I don’t just walk in and walk out either. You have to make it a whole day excursion. Give yourself the time to properly look through every rack, and have the patience to actually do it. Thrift stores are NEVER organised in any meaningful way. Even if they start that way, people take stuff and put it back wherever they feel like all the time. So you have to comb through carefully, patiently, and thoroughly to find the good stuff. It is just the most frustrating thing for me when I take people thrifting with me and they run a hand lazily across the rack once and sniff that there’s nothing there. There might be, there might not be- but you have to hunt for it. You have to dig between the taffeta and the 80’s power shoulders and reach for the treasure. Or maybe the taffeta and the 80’s power shoulders ARE the treasure you’re looking for – I’ve seen ladies rock that look.
Regardless, the point remains that if you don’t put in the time, you’re not going to get anything decent, because if the great things were easy to find, someone would have found them already and bought them.
Pick your Target
Thrift shopping is a scavenger hunt, and as with any other kind of hunt, you have to know where your game is likely to be found. Not all thrift stores are equal – ones in suburbs with a high population of people who drink half caf soy lattes and ride fixies are likely to be picked clean. But if you venture out into suburbs where the more well-to-do congregate, you can find some real gold. See, the suburban yuppies like to donate clothes, because it’s an easy, convenient way to be charitable. But they would never be caught dead wearing second hand clothes, and they also tend to be pretty keen on keeping the poorer people who WOULD wear second hand clothes away as much as possible. Which leaves their second hand stores chock full of barely worn goodies, free for the taking.
So those are my thrift-store shopping secrets. Go forth, my padouin, and send me pictures of the wonderful things you find!
Cassie is a thirty something Australian with an enormously chequered past, who can be found spouting her endless opinions all over the internet. Her opinions are largely confined to The Reluctant Femme at present, but if you feel like you need a constant stream of it, she can also be found on Twitter (@anwyn) and Google Plus.