I learned the art of thrift store shopping from my mother, who dressed me and my siblings entirely in clothes bought from the local Salvation Army store. As I grew older, this was embarrassing, especially since none of my clothes had the brand names that my classmates valued so highly, nor was my personal style ever quite up to date. Mom didn’t care; she was happy to save money on clothes and use it for other, more interesting investments, such as music lessons and travel. I know we've been talking about the benefits of thrift stores for years, but it is a good time to revisit why we love them.
1. As a parent, there’s no better way to dress growing kids than by going to the thrift store. Kids often grow out of their clothes long before they’re worn out, so it’s easy to find quality kids’ clothes in top-notch condition for just a few dollars.
2. Because thrift store items are so cheap, it’s fun to experiment with styles or colours that you might not usually buy. If you only wear that hot pink shirt or embroidered pants a few times, hey, it was only $3, instead of $30… or, heaven forbid, $300.
3. Thrift store items are typically higher quality simply by virtue of being there. They’ve withstood one person’s use already and still have resale value, which means they’re not like your typical H&M, Zara, or Forever21 cheap “fast fashion” shirts that stretch and lose their shape after a few washes.
4. Which leads me to the next point… that clothes at the thrift store are always laundered before selling, so you’ll get the same fit after washing them yourself.
5. Thrift stores are an opportunity to develop your own unique sense of style. Shopping without mannequins to show you what’s trendy might be terrifying, especially if you’re like me and feel lost when it comes to piecing together funky outfits, but with practice comes confidence. When everyone shops at the same trendy, brand name stores, it’s inevitable that someday you’ll meet an unexpected twin in public, wearing the exact same shirt or dress as you. Believe me, no one wants to be that person.
6. There really are fabulous finds on all the racks at the thrift store. Since there’s still a bit of stigma associated with second-hand shopping, there’s not as much competition as there should be for the designer jeans, coats, and vintage leather bags that you can find with only a bit of patience. Keep going back with low expectations and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. (Thanks, Macklemore, for showing the world just how cool thrift stores are! Warning: explicit lyrics)
7. There are no hovering salespeople waiting to make a commission off your purchase. In fact, most employees at the Salvation Army are volunteers, so they really don’t care if you buy anything at all.
8. Thrift stores go beyond clothes. They’re the ultimate one-stop shopping experience, a much cooler version of Wal-Mart superstores. Most of my home furnishings come from the thrift store – the pine harvest table, cotton bed sheets, an armchair, baskets, picture frames, dishes, glasses, curtains, futon cover, bath mat, baking pans, and mirrors. If there’s anything you need, check the thrift store first, since they’ve probably got it.
9. Shopping at the thrift store leads to less hoarding. Because there’s a much smaller financial investment in each item, it’s not as hard to let go. You know that pair of jeans that cost so much, but they just don’t fit right, and you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them because you spent so much… Not the case with thrift store jeans that cost $3 a pop! If something doesn’t work, donate it back and try again.
10. Many thrift stores support the community. The Salvation Army donates all profits to its charity work, so you can be sure that your dollars are being put to good use.