THRIFTIN' 101: WHY WHEN HOW WHERE

Yes, thrift stores, consignment shops, vintage shops and the goodwill are great places to score bargain items mostly in great condition for a mere fraction of the retail price. However, shopping at these type of establishments is not for the faint of heart.  One can truly be "turned off" by the disorganization, clutter and shanty appearance of these places.  For establishments in total disarray; I don't even bother roaming through.  For the most part, consignment shops are organized-clothing color coordinated, and departments clearly labeled. Regardless, I suggest having your bowl of Wheaties or coffee in the morning in addition to donning a pair of flats.  Also, a good attitude is necessary.  



WHY SECOND HAND?



Nowadays, it  is essential to get the most for your buck with the way the economy is.  Clothing is a necessity but does not take precedence over things like household bills, utilities, etc.  So why not give one of these establishments a try?  For those who with no financial burden; thriftin' can be the perfect opportunity to experiment with styles.  Because you pay next to nothing; it's not a big deal if the frock you picked out looks horrible on you once you get home.  Most likely, you can turn it into something else-can you say DIY.







WHEN

Frequency is one of the most important factors when it comes to thriftin'.  I know, this may not be feasible by many, but if you work or live near a second hand store, visiting in the beginning and towards the end of the week will be beneficial.  Now, don't get me wrong; I don't guarantee finding a great item at EVERY trip but chances are, you will find a gem amongst the rubble.  Stock is always coming and going in these stores so I also advise you to "friend" a salesperson.  This way, they can always "save" or "put aside" something you may like or want from the window (items in the window usually are not for sale until a designated day or time. Becoming acquainted with a staff member can lead to you getting that item before it gets placed on the floor).  Visit as many shops as you can on a weekend or a day off. This way, you can get a feel for which shops carry items more your taste and style-this can become your go-to. 

HOW

OK, by now, you're over the initial shock of the establishment.  I suggest having an idea of what you want i.e. I'm on the search for sequins dress or leather shorts.  Usually, clothing is color-coordinated on the floor which eases the search.  Once you have that in your head, begin visually scanning the racks for sequins. If you're not shopping for anything in particular, walk to the category of item you want, for example, the pants isle or skirt isle.



One of the things, especially for my curvy gals, I suggest is using your imagination-about how certain clothing could be worn.  For example, a denim button down men shirt can be worn as a denim dress-just add a belt and some tights or leggings.  When I'm in a vintage shop, I imagine how I could incorporate a retro 80's blazer into my current wardrobe. 



  
TRY IT ON!  Do not be afraid to try on the items.  Most places have dressing room, if not, mirrors can be found throughout the store.  For those weary of actually wearing the garments-just place them on top of your clothing.  Unsure of a top?-imagine it with something basic like skinny jeans or a blazer.    


TAILOR IT!  I am far from a seamstress of any kind but I can stitch (somewhat) and if that doesn't work out; I always have my hot glue gun (although I suggest fabric glue).  Don't let something like an un-hem skirt or top deter you from purchase if you truly love it.  These are very simple and fast alterations.  Also, do not be afraid to whip out the scissors to make the NOT RIGHT into RIGHT. 


WHERE TO SHOP (NYC)

When I first began to thrift, I only went to affluent areas (higher income neighborhoods) where you will find better quality and often times, higher-end items. However, because the shop owners are in-tuned to the value of their goods, the prices tend to be higher. For this reason, I opt for stores in low-to-middle income neighborhoods, where for the most part, store staff are oblivious to the true value of the items. 

Salvation Army Consignment Stores & Good Will Location I frequent:
  • 208 Eighth Avenue., New York, NY
  • 217 west 79th street
  • 2196 Fifth Ave (135th street)
  • 103 West 25th Street., NY,NY
  • 26 East 125th street (most frequented onee)

REDRESS NY 
Love this store. They carry thrifted items from size 12 and up.  You will find items from various brands-Torrid, Lane Bryant, Forever 21, etc.  *Sadly, this location will be closing their stores up in Novemeber so get there while you can.*
---109 Boerum Place., Brooklyn, NY
UPDATE 5/22/2012store closed, online store running.
THRIFT AND VINTAGE STORES
  • Buffalo Exchange *favorite*- there are several locations, but I frequent the 11th street & 2nd ave loc.  212-260-9340
  • Housing Works Thrift Store:
    •  202 E. 77th street
    • 114 West 17th Street
    • 77th and Columbus
 *there are several Housing works thrift shops but the ones above are the ones I usually check out.

In all, use my tips above to get the most out of your shopping experience while thriftin'. Also, remember, you may walk in with high hopes and walk out empty-handed.  Just realize that thriftin' can be a hit or miss.  To my local and visiting readers, please let me know about your experiences after shopping at any one of the above stores.

Click HERE and HERE to see some of my thriftin' steals and deals...

Watch my segment on YAHOO's DAily Shot show discussing plus size thrifting: 
 http://shine.yahoo.com/video/real-body-style-thrift-shopping-110000855.html




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