Recent finds at thrift shops: brand new navy Dockers slacks, tags still on for 9.99, even better, new Geoxx moccasins, 6.49 [these cost over $100 in the store], Naturalizer sandals, lightly used, 6.99. And below my two favorite fly away scarves, one in pink and one in blue stripe, silk, from Eddie Bauer, 1.99 each. "How do you do it?" someone asked me a couple days ago. Here are some of my how-tos.
First, get to know the thrift shops in areas you are likely to pass near in your usual daily life. I'm lucky because there is a very large Goodwill store near me that is almost entirely clothing [some housewares and linens, no furniture). There are a couple of church run thrift shops near=by, one with rock bottom prices and nice quality stuff, the other with almost nothing worth looking at. And there is a hospital auxilary run thrift shop of medium size and not many finds.
Second, shop often. I love to browse. I love fabrics and styles and just seeing what's around is helpful. Always be prepared to grab the extraordinary if it's there. Because it won't be three tomorrow if it's really extraordinary.
Watch catalogs and advertisements and get to know brands and their prices. Also know fabrics by feel -- tee shirts come in many different knits and weights. Some are so shoddy they almost never get into thrift shops because they just don't last. Others are everything from so-so to very high quality, meant to last.
Know what you will wear or use. A $100 cashmere sweater for $15 is a great bargain but not if it's a color or style that you aren't going to wear. [I've made some of those mistakes and learned my lesson].
Find out what you can about who donates to that shop. The hospital auxillary shop probably gets a lot of donations from doctor's wives. These ladies tend to buy quality and treat their clothes well. They're likely to be rather conservative in style, but I occassionally find someone who likes Chicos clothing, though it runs more to Talbots.
Buy out of season. When others are looking for bathing suits, a thrift shop may want to get those space taking winter coats out of the way and sell them at rock bottom prices. [This rule applies in department stores too].
Always carry an inventory of what you'd like to find in your mind. I've needed navy slacks for months, when I found the Dockers recently I knew I had been right to keep on looking and not go to a department store to buy them. Likewise much of last year I kept thinking, I need to find some white sandals because I didn't have any.
Those are some of my methods. I have always been drawn to basic clothing with just a bit of edge -- the edge may be provided by a floaty scarf [I actually have a ton of scarves]. I tend to grab a decent pair of black pants, whatever their weight/season when I find them because there are weeks I wear them like a uniform. The same goes for black or gray sweaters. Mainly you have to like to shop and enjoy serendipity -- the surprising goody! Many more come your way when your eyes are open and you aren't hurrying past. Like all the good things in life, you have to know it when you find it, and you're more likely to find it when you've got your eyes and mind open.
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