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Celebrate National Thrift Shop Day

Celebrate National Thrift Shop Day
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BY MYRA FAYE TURNER

Have you heard of National Thrift Shop Day? No? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. I’m an avid thrift shopper and I found out recently about this blessed day. A day set aside to honor all things second-hand. National Thrift Shop Day is August 17 — so mark your calendars.

I have shopped in thrift shops most of my life. Growing up poor, sometimes I didn’t have a choice. As a working adult, I continued going to thrift shops. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. I love the thrill of the hunt. You never know what’s waiting for you!

I feel like I’m at a meeting of thrift shoppers anonymous. Hello, my name is Myra and I’m a thrift shopaholic. But I digress. Thrift shopping has gone mainstream. Of course today some people try to schmooze it up by using words like “vintage” or “second-hand boutique”. Come on! I know it’s a thrift shop and you know it’s a thrift shop so stop playing.

Thrift shopping saves you money, not only on clothes, but you can usually find decent deals on other items like furniture. You like to read, don’t you? Some thrift shops have a nice selection of books, usually for pennies — or at most a buck.

Sometimes you’re lucky to find a nice deal on brand name items. A few years ago, I got a good deal on a Louis Vuitton briefcase. It was the type with the shoulder strap and it was good condition. Let me just stop for a minute. I’m not the type of person who’s big on buying something because somebody’s slapped their name on it but this bag was A) cute as you know what, B) inexpensive and C) in good condition. I bought it about five years ago and I still use it.

If you’re new to thrift shopping, stick with me. I’m an old (literally) pro. Read on for some tips on how to get the most from your thrift shopping experience.

Thrift Shopping Tips

  • Go during the weekdays, if possible. Most shops are crowded on the weekend and you won’t be able to browse. I also like to go early. I don’t have to be first in line when the door opens, but I like to get there at least within the first hour.
  • Can you say discount? Most stores offer discounts on all or some days. They may offer senior discounts daily, for example. Some may have 50% (or other percentages) off sales on certain days. One shop I used to frequent but has closed (thanks Hurricane Katrina!) offered half price daily. The clothes had different colored tags corresponding to the price. Each day, a different color tag was on sale.
  • Many department stores have sales on clothes during the opposite season. Thrift shops sometimes do the same thing. You may be able to grab a bunch of winter clothes during the summer or summer clothes in the winter.
  • Carefully examine each item. Look for rips, tears, discolorations, wonky zippers, etc.
  • Make sure you try the items on. Some clothes have missing size tags. You don’t want to get home only to find your item(s) don’t fit.
  • Should you haggle over prices since you’re getting a discount already?  If you think you can get a better price, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t negotiate a better price. Normally the manager will make that decision, not the cashier or people working on the floor, so don’t harass these poor people.

Maybe an item has a stain but you’re sure you can get it out. Remember the wonky zipper mentioned earlier? No problem, you’re great at un-wonkying zippers. I once received a big discount from a thrift shop in Alabama. I was living in Mobile (where I was born and raised) temporarily after Hurricane Katrina. I found a ton of old National Geographic magazines (many with wonderful maps!). I had to have them. They were selling 4 for $1. But I’m cheap thrifty, so I talked the manager into giving me a discount if I bought ALL of them.  I left with a shopping cart full of magazines.  And I still have them ten years later because…well I’m a pack rat and they’re National Geographic for God’s sake!

  • Look for holiday specials. Okay, so you can expect to find sales on August 17 but what about other days? I’ve gone to red, white and blue sales (July 4), Halloween, and Christmas sales, to name a few.
  • If you don’t find anything when you visit (especially for the first time), don’t get discouraged. Items rotate in and out daily. Check back a few times before you give up. Yes, all shops aren’t created equal. But once you find a shop you like make sure you keep going back.

Online Thrifting

If you can’t find a shop in your area, you can do a little thrifting from the comfort of your own home. This works better for certain items and as with anything you buy online, you may not get what you’re expecting. But, it’s no different than buying from eBay or such sites. When shopping online, be sure to check out the return/refund policy, if applicable. Most brick and mortar stores don’t offer this option. Online stores may have a more flexible policy.

Here’s a list of places online to get you started:

Thredup

The Attic

Gone-Tomorrow

Swap.com

Finally, you can find stores in your areas by going to thethriftshopper.com and inputting your zip code, or city and state. You can also read reviews.  Happy thrifting!

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Myra Faye Turner
Myra Faye Turner is freelance writer, who lives in New Orleans, LA, population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, 3,483, 839. She hopes to someday retire to a less populated city. Check out her website, myrafayeturner.com and be sure to follow her on twitter @msmyrafaye.