3 Reasons You’re Striking Out While Thrift Shopping

Posted On Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Filed Under: How To, Looking FLY on a Dime, shopping, Thrift Stores

“Patrice, I never find anything when I go thrifting!”
I can’t tell you how many times I receive emails or tweets like this. And in spite of all of the thrift shopping posts I do {thrift shopping 101, thrift shopping commandments, etc.}, there’s always someone who tells me they keep walking away empty handed. Of course I don’t mind the emails, you guys can always contact me, but anytime I respond to problems like this, I tell the frustrated shopper they’re most likely committing typical thrift shopper sins.
If you keep striking out while thrift shopping, you’re probably doing one or all of the things below wrong.
No Time to Shop
Here’s what some people do: Walk in to a thrift store. Grab a cart. Walk out frustrated after 30 minutes. So what’s the problem?
Unless you’re a thrift pro, you need to give yourself at least an hour to check out the racks or dig through bins. And that’s not even accounting for the time required to try everything on. So carve out an hour and don’t get frustrated if you don’t find anything right away. The more frustrated you get, the more likely you are to overlook potentially amazing pieces because you’re so ticked off and over it.
Your Expectations Are Too High & Specific
“I went to Goodwill to find a black and gold off the shoulder sequin dress and lime green cardigan with elbow patches. I didn’t find either.” Hmm, if the list of what you’re looking for is that specific, I can guarantee you’ll walk away disappointed. Sure, you should have an idea of what you want or need {little black dress, high waisted jeans, etc.}, but keep the list fairly general and not too specific.
Every thrift store is different and the inventory is constantly changing, so predicting what you’ll come across is impossible. Anytime I’ve ever found a really statement making garment, I’ve never been looking for it. It just randomly happens. Embrace the fashion serendipity.
Your Vision May Be Lacking
While thrift shopping, I’m always aware of other shoppers. If I see someone pick up a gorgeous item and then place it back on the rack, I usually wonder if they didn’t like the piece or just didn’t know how to wear it. Some clothes can be a bit intimidating at first glance {bold prints, shoulder pads, bright colors, etc.}, so it’s easy to dismiss them as being less than wearable. But when you take a sec to see the potential {belting a dress or shirt that may be oversized, removing shoulder pads, toning down a loud print with neutrals you have in your closet}, you open yourself up to finding something amazing.
These are just a few common reasons you might have a less than successful thrift shopping experience.
Have you ever run in to the problems above? How long do your thrift shopping trips last? Do you tend to have a thrift wish list? 
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4 thoughts on “3 Reasons You’re Striking Out While Thrift Shopping

  1. Another tip: You may be going to the wrong store.

    Just because everyone else has success at a certain store doesn’t mean you will. Try a variety of stores. Start with smaller, well organized ‘higher end’ thrift and consignment stores just to get a feel for hunting. (You don’t have to buy anything – prices at higher end and consignment stores can be high.) Once you start to understand how thrifting works, you will find stores that consistently have items that appeal to your style.

  2. Yup, I used to do this. I would leave with nothing but that was only because I didn’t have the time (or patience!!!) to do it and after 15 or 20 minutes I’d be discouraged. It’s all about patience and trial and error.

  3. Patrice, I agree with what you have to say. In fact have a little bit of an imagination really helps while thrift shopping as the clothes are not displayed on mannequins and one needs to visualise how one is going to wear a particular garment.



    Clothes and Creativity


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