Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Rules of Thrifting

Happiness is......going shopping and coming home with everything you wanted for $15.49. Yes, I went to the Sal-Mart today. I was on the lookout, as I always am, for frugal clothing for myself for work. My job attire needs to be casual and comfortable and most of all, wash and wear. My wardrobe allowance is small, so I have to get creative. For the most part, I get compliments on my choices, so I must be doing alright. Today happened to be a sale; all pink tags 1.00! I picked up a blouse and a cardigan which almost match exactly for two bucks! I also picked up a near- new hoodie for the boy. One can never have too
many fleece hoodies.
Here, my son is wearing his favourite Spidey jammies,
which I found with a Diego set at Value Village for $3 each.
These looked brand new to me when I bought them and after I washed them,
they looked like all of his other P.J.s. They were the perfect Drive-In attire.
Then, I heard angels chorusing and a light shone down from up above. O.K., not exactly, but there, in the Salmart, was the exact same food chopper that I have been looking to replace since mine was dropped from the counter top a couple of months ago. There was no price on it, and beside it, another chopper sat, (missing a vital part, which in my mind made it fit only for the landfill), for $5. This set my mind to thinking. How can I get my perfect, complete chopper for the best price? This also got me thinking about the Rules of Thrifting. By now, I tend to think of myself and a near expert in sifting through the garbage in thrift stores and coming out with the gems. I have been thrifting most of my life and I while have bought my share of useless and frivolous goods and promptly had to re-recycle them, by now I have honed my skils almost to an exact science. If you are interested, I will gladly share my pearls with you now.

1. Don't buy junk.

This rule seems obvious but in the mind mode of all the good deals you are getting and all the money you are saving by thifting, it is easy to overlook quality and possibly let down your standards a tad when piling on extra purchases. Examine everything with a critical eye. Will you really wear it? Will it fit you? Did you try it on? Will you really fix that button? If there is a shadow of a doubt in your mind, put it back on the rack. This brings me to the second rule...

2. Have a list.

Just as in any other store, you wouldn't just buy things because they are there. Well, maybe you would, but if you are trying to be frugal you wouldn't. I always have a list of things that I need in mind, or at least, categories. For example, we are low on winter gear, my son always needs clothes and Christmas is coming. I found myself almost brand new snow pants today and a cute holiday plate which I could serve my chocolate chip cookies on. The food chopper was on my mental list.

3. Watch prices.

Don't assume everything is a good deal just because it is used. In fact you have to be even more on your toes in the thrift store because the prices vary and never seem to have a rhyme nor reason. In my mind, if I am paying my hard earned money for something it had better be excellent quality and a good price. I will use the snow pants as an example. They were seven dollars. I almost never spend seven dollars on one item in a thrift store. To me that is the extreme end of the scale. But since the pants were in excellent condition, exactly my size and I know that I could not buy them for less than $30 new, I ponied up the $7 before the next lucky thrifter came by to snap them up. The pricing thing brings me to my next rule. It's really more of an opinion. You do what you think is best.

4. Don't expect to haggle...much.

For the most part, the price is the price, even if it doesn't make any sense why one white turtle neck is $3 and one is $5. You are in a thrift store. Do you haggle at Walmart? Just scan for the $3 one in perfect condition and take that one home. Today, the pink tag sale made me challenge myself to find the best $1 deals I could. The woman before me tried to ask for a cheaper deal on something and was denied. While I admired her courage for asking for a cheaper price, I did not admire the way she left in a snit when she was turned down. For the food chopper without a price, I explained, politely, that the one beside it was missing the handle and had been priced at $5. I waited patiently while the cashier asked the manager for a price, (something she was unwilling to do for the abrupt woman before me), and happily accepted the final purchase price that was offered: two dollars. I did not demand that the cashier lower the price nor did I demand haughtily to speak to the manager. I respected the woman who was helping me and bagged my own purchases, as the line behind me had started to form while she was away getting my cheap price. You see, I want to go back to this store, probably often. I like good deals. This brings me to my final general rule.

5. Keep going back.

You don't have to find everything in one day. Neither do you have to buy out the whole store. If they don't have what you want, or it is all junk, walk out of the store! Don't buy something just because you walked in, or just because it's a dollar. That's your dollar. Keep it for something good! Also, some days, there is just nothing worth buying. Attitude is key. I know, for myself, if I am not in the right frame of mind, I can come home with junk, which defeats the whole purpose. It's called thrifting, not junking.

That being said, if you do make a mistake and bring home say, a polyester shawl from the seventies with burgandy trim and a previously undiscovered grease stain, don't beat yourself up. You could use that trim on something, maybe a lampshade. Clear out all your old junk, make a donation and start fresh with a new take on thrifting.


Lena! said...

Excellent tips! Thanks for taking the time to post!

hiptobeme said...

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Angela said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm just getting back into thrifting after 20+ years.

I love the photo, by the way!

hiptobeme said...

My pleasure, Angela! Thrifting can be overwhelming and difficult if it's been a while, so I thought I would help wade through it a bit.