Thrift Store Shopping – Why I LOVE it and 15 Tips to Help You Find Bargains AND Have Fun!

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Thrift Store Shopping OxfamDid you know it’s Thrift Store Shopping Day (or Charity Shop Day) on August 17th? My love affair with Thrift Store Shopping started when I was 14 and I couldn’t afford to buy the clothes I wanted. It was the mid-1980s and I had a passion for cord, lace and velvet – a budding goth and a romantic! Thrift Stores were a way to get unusual, cool clothes for a tenth (often a hundredth!) of the price. I still have some of those clothes today – including a Nicole Farhi velvet jacket!

And although I recently picked up an awesome cord skirt with sequins which I’m often complimented on, these days when I’m Thrift Store Shopping I tend to look for art, pottery, books as well as hunt for cool items to be garden sculpture. Oh – and I collect buttons and embroidery thread which I upcycle into cool ponytail bands.

Thrift Store Shopping BearIn this world where our garbage dumps are overflowing, where people throw things out rather than repair them I like being counterculture. I like seeing beauty in what people have discarded. I like the fact that no new materials or energy was used to create these things. I love the UNIQUE. And I get a thrill when I find collectibles like Portmeirion candlesticks, Wedgewood plates, Blue Mountain Pottery bears (see image!) and beautiful and ornate silver trivets.

I know some people worry about fleas, dirt, smells, even bed bugs! Well, in the 25+ years I’ve been Thrift Store Shopping I’ve never seen a single flea or bed bug – although dirt – yes! But that’s what soap and washing powder is for…

Of course with Thrift Store shopping you’re supporting local charities. You get bargains, unique and sometimes new items, you get to beat the corporations busy selling ‘stuff’, you save something from ending up in a garbage dump AND you give money to charity. Oh – and the THRILL of the hunt without the GUILT of spending. You’ll be reusing, recycling, perhaps even upcycling – all part of an awesome new counterculture – so many ‘wins’ I’ve lost count.

So, this Friday August 17th – why not support a local charity and pop into a Thrift Store on your lunch break or take the afternoon off with a couple of friends?

15 Top Tips for Successful Thrift Store Shopping:

  1. It’s always more fun with friends! Share and enjoy the crazy stuff you spot…
  2. Make a list of things you’re looking for eg. to decorate your home – and include measurements (I have found 3 fabulous mirrors – and wouldn’t have been able to buy them if I didn’t know the sizes I was looking for).
  3. Check out the book section – you’ll be surprised how many recent, bookclub books you see on the shelves! Again a list can be really helpful.
  4. If you’re at all squeamish – by all means take a blank garbage bag or three to put your finds in. Tie it up until you wash or clean it – on hot!
  5. Take a list of people’s birthdays with you. There’s often great pottery and glass knick-knacks and finds as well as jewellery. Thrift Stores are a great place to look for special one-off finds for your owl/pig/frog/bear/dragonfly/angel collector!
  6. Another great thing to look for is children’s clothes and toys – but of course be prepared to thoroughly clean and sanitise before use!
  7. It’s also only a couple of months until Halloween – so look for costume items and ideas.
  8. Not all Thrift Stores are created equal. Some have higher standards on what they will take than others. Shop according to your comfort level!
  9. Do check your purchase for stains, holes, rips, cracks etc. Good Thrift Stores will do this for you, but things do get missed and some people are happy to buy and repair.
  10. And of course, don’t buy something just because it’s cheap. Buy because you LOVE it or you know someone who will. Otherwise just make a donation!
  11. Have patience. Sometimes you’ll find nothing and other times you won’t believe your luck!
  12. Love bargains? Most Thrift Stores have special tags or days when everything is 30 or even 50% off. Just ask!
  13. And when you go  Thrift Store shopping, why not take the opportunity to de-clutter your home or wardrobe by donating some of your stuff while you’re there?
  14. Like the IDEA of Thrift Store Shopping but don’t know where to start? Search online for “Thrift Store” or “Charity Shop” and your town name. Many will actually show up on a Google map these days.
  15. Finally, the best way to find bargains is to visit – often. Other people will be quick to snap up good deals, collectibles and brand new items, don’t miss out!

We’d love to hear your thoughts, stories or finds Thrift Store Shopping – just comment below!

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