Thrift Shopping FAQ

Posted On Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Filed Under: Looking FLY on a Dime, shopping, Thrift Stores

From emails to tweets to comments, I tend to get the same questions related to thrift shopping. I’ve done posts on most of these questions but I wanted to compile a FAQ {frequently asked questions} post for you guys. Here are my top five frequently asked questions related to thrift shopping.

Q: How do I find a good thrift store in my area?
A: Thrift stores aren’t created equally, so it’s really a matter of trial and error. It takes time to find the store that’s best for you. Take a drive or walk around your area to scope out secondhand shops, ask friends for referrals and visit websites for national chains like Salvation Army and Goodwill to find a location near you. And be sure to check out The Thrift Shopper, it’s a national directory of resale shops.

Q: I live in a small town, will I find good stuff at my thrift store?
A: Some people tend to think only major cities have awesome thrift stores, and this is so not true. Though I’m in NYC, I’ve come across some really crappy stores. Sometimes, it’s the smaller cities that have better merchandise: vintage pieces and the stuff isn’t as picked over. If you don’t think so, check out what I found while thrifting in a small town in Ohio.

Q: I’m plus size, will I find anything at a thrift store?
A: Um, yeah! Women and men of all sizes donate to secondhand stores, so you’ll find everything from a size 2 to 20. You may have to dig a little deeper to find pieces, but that’s the same for anyone who isn’t “average” height or weight. I’m only 5’2 so at times I find pants that have to be altered and I’m sure tall women, those with long arms, legs, etc have the same issue. Check out the post I did on how to thrift shop for plus sizes and there also may be a shop in your area specifically for pluses. In NYC, there’s ReDress, which caters to curvy girls.

Q: I feel weird about wearing someone else’s clothes. Is thrifting sanitary?
A: If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this, I could open my own vintage shop! Of course you should wash all thrifted clothing before wearing them, but there’s nothing dirty about thrift shopping. In my post “Is thrift shopping clean?,” I argued that when you purchase clothes from a new store, you just wear them directly off the rack without washing them. You don’t know who wore them before you, how many people tried them on, etc. But with thrift shopping, you sanitize the clothes so you’re sure that everything is clean before you wear them. Here are some tips on how to clean thrift store clothes and as a general rule, I dry my clothes for a few minutes {to kill any pesky germs} then wash and dry them again.

Q: What are your favorite thrift stores in NYC?
A: My top three thrift stores:
**Salvation Army on 46th St: this location is super organized by garments and color. Like seriously, it doesn’t get any easier than this. The staff is friendly, prices are super affordable and I’ve never walked out empty-handed.
**Goodwill on East 23rd St: I discovered this shop when I collaborated with Sammy Davis Vintage on Thrift Wars. This is another organized shop and you’ll find some high end threads like Diane von Furstenberg, Nicole Miller, Fendi and more.
**Goodwill Outlet in Long Island City: I love this place so much that I originally resisted telling everyone about it, but I knew I had to share the love. Clothing here is priced at $1.69 per pound. Yes, clothing is priced by the pound. Everything is thrown in bins, so it takes a bit of work, but it’s so worth it.

These are just a few frequently asked questions about thrift shopping. If you have some more insight to the answers above or your own questions you’d like me to tackle, feel free to leave a comment below.

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