Friday, September 23, 2011

Give Second-Hand a Second Chance

Oh my. It has been far too long since I've said hello! Unfortunately, my dress is still near completion. I have been helping out at Rob's workplace the last two weeks, and that has been eating up some of my free time. But I now have an incentive to get it done: I'm going back to Nebraska to visit next week and I will be seeing my grandmother! I want to show her my handiwork, so I really need to get it done.

I took the time at the beginning of the week to go through my son's dresser and exchange out the too-small clothes for bigger sizes that I've had packed away. As I put pants, t-shirts, socks and hoodies into the dresser, I started taking a mental note of where I had purchased most of this stuff. And, of course, a majority of it was from second-hand stores. I think that second-hand stores sometimes get the stink eye because they're misunderstood. While they do have some low-quality and worn out items, they are also chocked full of vintage items leftover from estate sales, clothes that somebody just got too fat for (Or too skinny for? Does that happen? Haha!) or clothes children outgrew before they really had a chance to wear them out. Yes, there is also a lot of outdated stuff, but that's your chance to jump on the high-waisted, '80s jeans bandwagon that's currently running rampant amongst the lower 20-somethings right now. And won't it be more fun to tell your friends that you only paid $5 for your electric green cigarette jeans that very possibly could have been at a Billy Idol concert instead of $49?!

The other misunderstanding about second-hand stores is that the shopping mentality you walk in with is akin to how you would approach a department store: on the contrary, you are not going to get everything you want or need in one visit. Thrifting must be done piecemeal. You will most likely just find a few good things at a time -- boots, a skirt, a belt, sassy t-shirts for your one-year-old. If you're thrifting somewhere like the Goodwill or Salvation Army, your chances might be higher of finding more goodies. Honestly, my child only wears BabyGap, Gymboree, and Old Navy because I have been lucky enough to put a wardrobe together for him piecemeal. I just find a hoodie here, some pants there. The same thing goes for my own wardrobe.

The final misunderstanding about second-hand stores is that you're going to find what you're looking for right away. Oh, no-no-no-no-no! Give yourself at least a good hour to look around if you're on a specific item-seeking mission. Thrifting requires a little digging. So go prepared to roll your sleeves up and rub elbows with the regulars (Ahem, that's me). Some stores make it fun by creating displays, and most will even have jewelry counters. Get to know the people who staff these places; as you become more familiar, they'll tell you about something that was just brought in so you won't have to dig as much!

Don't limit yourself to just thrift stores, too. I have a friend who goes to clothing swaps a couple times a year, and I also check eBay and consignment shops (which are like the cream of second-hand stores). With that, what you pay for your thrifted items is all subjective -- it's what you deem is a good deal. If you're into name brands, do your homework to ensure that what you're buying in one of these latter mentioned shops isn't over-priced. One of my most treasured finds are some vintage Frye boots I got on eBay.

With that, I must be honest and admit that I don't buy everything second-hand. Some things just must be new, if you get my drift (and I guess that could be subjective too...). And I'm also not above a good sale in a department store! The bottom line is cost and quality. And I have been able to find both for my family's clothing budget and for my hobbies.

Do you thrift? What's your best find?


  1. I once found a pair of purple mary jane Doc Martens at Goodwill. They were half a size too small, but I scrunched up my toes and wore the hell out of them!

  2. Wow, I'm pretty sure I owned a pair of those when I was a teen back in the 80's. Crazy! Hope you have a terrific terrific visit back home!!!