How to Thrift Shop at Warehouse Sales

Posted On Monday, July 15th, 2013
Filed Under: How To

how to thrift shop, thrift shopping tips

Thrift stores have come a long way. They’re no longer the musky, moth ball ridden places {some of them were} from back in the day. I even wrote a piece for The New York Times on how thrift shopping has gone upscale.

In addition to cleaner stores and sales, more stores are offering different ways to purchase clothes other than being sold by the piece. I’m talking about stores where you buy by the pound or bag {like Housing Works Buy the Bag or the Goodwill Outlet}. These are the places I like to go when I really want my buck to stretch.

However, these places can be really intimidating since the locations tend to be in massive warehouses and clothes are stored in large bins. But when you have the right tips, you can walk away with clothes that cost less than a buck per piece.

Strategy wise, you want to thrift the way you would at any store {wear form fitting clothes so you can try things on in the aisle, shop with friends so you have an extra set of eyes, grab anything that catches your eye and then edit down, etc}, but here are some things to keep in mind when thrifting in a warehouse-like environment.

thrift shopping tour, thrift tour
Bring a Bag
You’re going to find a ton of stuff while shopping {before you edit down} and there’s no way you can carry everything in your hands. Some shops have carts, but for the ones that don’t, make your life easier by bringing a large bag to hold your cheap chic finds. I like carrying a duffle or Ikea bag. It’s easy for me to throw it over my shoulder, which frees up my hands and it holds a ton of stuff.

Strap Those Shoes On
About a year ago at Housing Works Buy the Bag, a woman lost her shoe in a pile of clothes. It may sound silly, but when you’re stepping over clothes {or even hopping in bins}, it can happen. So think twice about those flip flops or any shoe you just slip in to, as you can also easily slip out of them when the chaotic shopping begins. And ladies, put the heels away, unless you’re a serious thrift pro.

Don’t Be a Scavenger
Seriously, don’t be that person who bulldozes your way past people. Don’t be that shopper who crowds around the employees when they bring out new crates of clothing. It’s natural to think you have to be more aggressive when thrifting, but don’t lose your mind or manners. There’s enough for everyone. And when you’re kind to people, they’ll actually share their cast offs with you.

Also, stay hydrated and bring a light snack {these places can get hot!} and it doesn’t hurt to have hand sanitizer or gloves since you’ll be riffling through a lot of merch.

Be sure to search for outlets, bag sales and thrift warehouses in your area. It’ll be like opening up an affordable, fashionable treasure chest.

If you’re in NYC and want to see firsthand how a warehouse thrift store works, sign up for my thrift shopping tour this Saturday. We’re heading to the Goodwill Outlet where clothes are $1.69 per pound.

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