Thrift away, shoppers!

Here are four tips on how to effectively shop at thrift stores.


For nearly a hundred years, thrift stores have been a reliable source for clothing items of each and every size and a variety of different brands, all for prices rarely exceeding $20. Whether you can afford such clothing items at full price or not, clothes consistently at low prices are hard to resist. Recently, thrifting is becoming quite a popular phenomenon for members of all social classes—we have come to our senses, realizing that $5 pants are $5 pants; if they exist, why wouldn’t we buy them?

Obviously, shopping at a thrift store is not the same as shopping at any other old regular store. When we shop differently, we must think differently. What exactly is the mindset to hold when you go thrifting? Well, here’s the scoop, boiled down into four rules of thrift shopping.

Don’t go to the thrift store with a purpose. Go shopping when you have 30 or 45 minutes to spare with no specific clothing items in mind. With the possibility of a bunch of amazing finds at unbelievable prices also comes the possibility of finding absolutely nothing you like. Realize there is a chance you won’t find anything at all. When you search for one thing in specific, you miss so many other items of clothing, so be sure to walk in with an open mind.

Don’t look for specific, big name brands. If Billabong board shorts or Brandy Melville pants come your way, so be it. Nonetheless, don’t go to a thrift store with the purpose of finding these items at a discount. There is likely a larger chance of leaving disappointed than of actually walking out of the store with them. Personally, I have come to find the biggest treasures are found in the clothes no one else can find; strange brands you have never heard of will offer just this.

Buy the things you wouldn’t normally buy. This is the place to splurge; if you see something you like, buy it even if you aren’t 100% sure about it. You can always take it back to the thrift store later if you change your mind. Some stores accept clothing as donations, others give a tax credit, a couple give store creditit just depends. By donating, you are contributing to the cycle of thrifting; if no one donated, thrift stores wouldn’t exist. What seems like trash to you may be a treasure to someone else.

Go frequently. As I said, there is a chance you could find absolutely nothing. So, the more you go, the bigger the chance is of finding an item that you love. I’m not saying go thrifting every day, but don’t go once and then never go again because you didn’t find anything that one time. Some days you luck out, other days you don’t.

So, take these rules and a couple of bucks to the nearest thrift store. Luckily, Ventura County offers many to its deal seekers. My favorite stores are Goodwill and Buffalo Exchange—specifically the Goodwill on Thompson Boulevard. Don’t get me wrong, Buffalo Exchange has some great stuff, but nothing can beat the huge selection of clothing at the Goodwill. Everything is consistently the same price: pants are always about $4, tank tops are always about $3. How can you beat that?

So, instead of running to a local retail store the next time you are in need of a shopping spree, consider checking out one of Ventura county’s many thrift stores. I can assure you that once you begin thrifting and buying clothes for less than $10, you won’t want to go back to buying them at their original price. Thrift away, shoppers!

What do you think?