How did I manage to snag a pair of designer jeans for less than the cost of a can of soda? I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, but only if you promise not to tell.
psst *Housing Works*
If you’re in New York City, then maybe you’ve heard of this thrift store. They have several locations throughout NYC and offer discounted clothing and furniture, with the proceeds benefiting those who are homeless and/or have AIDS. They even have an online auction where you can bid on designer items. Sounds great, right? Well, it gets even better!
Once or twice a month they have a warehouse sale. Shoppers are provided with a brown bag (the kind you’d get at a grocery store) and whatever you can stuff in the bag is yours for $20.
I hit up the sale this weekend and managed to squeeze 38 items in the bag. 38 items for $20, so that’s about 50 cents per item! I scored 7 belts, a hat, scarf, clutch, 3 blazers, a skirt, 7 dresses, pair of jeans, dress pants and 15 shirts. And these weren’t some ratty, dingy no name items either, I’m talking: Diane von Furstenberg, Banana Republic, Citizens of Humanity, BCBG Max Azria, Club Monaco, J. Crew, Vivienne Tam, and more. I had to pat myself on the back for tightly packing everything into the bag.
Some tips if you plan to go to Housing Works or any warehouse sale:
- Arrive early
The HW sale started at 10am. I was there at 9 with my iPod and a good book to keep me occupied until the doors opened.
- Proper dress
Comfy attire is a must. Believe me, I’m a 24/7 heels honey but I step into my Target flats when I go to a sale. You’ve got to be able to bend, pivot and elbow people if necessary. *I advocate nonviolence but some folks turn into savages at these sales*
- Grab now, think later
When you see an item you like, don’t waste precious time deliberating. Snatch up whatever catches your eye (a certain label, style, or pattern) and once you’re done shopping, step to the side and make the final cut of what you’ll keep. This is the time to inspect the clothes carefully for stains, holes or the right fit.
- If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit sell
If the location you’re at doesn’t have a dressing room (like the HW warehouse sale), you may purchase an item you think will fit you perfectly, get it home and realize it doesn’t! This happened to me with a pair of True Religion jeans; I guess I underestimated my hips. I sold them on eBay for 30 bucks. It was a great deal for the buyer and a great deal for me, since my profit margin was so high.
- Work in teams, if necessary
I’m so serious about this tip. Your pal can act as a second set of hands and eyes. He or she may come across items that are more your style and/or size (and vice versa) and then you can swap items in the end.
- Patience, my child
I can’t stress this enough. Maybe you’ll walk away with a gem, maybe you won’t, but you’ll most likely will find something if you just keep digging. My first time at the HW sale was a nightmare (it was too hot, the people were too pushy and I only found a few tops) and I didn’t return until almost a year later. I came back with a calm demeanor and attitude that I wouldn’t get frustrated no matter what. Since then, I’ve always walked away with a full bag of goodies.
While I was looking for a Goodwill location to drop off a donation, I came across another warehouse sale similar to HW. This sale offers clothing by the pound. I’ll report back next week.