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This Week in Fashion: The Economic Downturn Moves Consumers to Return to Thrift Shopping

November 19, 2010

December 2009 there was an article with affirmation that during the economic downturn consumers have been drawn back to the days of shopping at thrift stores.  There was about a 67% increase in thrift stores in Nevada during the last holiday season rush on suitable items that were found to be great gift givers, especially where shopping on a budget was a factor.  But if you plan on adding thrift shopping to your list, you need to be savvy, don’t just go in and pick up and buy anything you get your hands on.  There are the do’s and don’ts to thrift shopping.

Photo from Living Fly on a Dime (a great site, be sure to browse around when you visit the site).

“However, holiday shoppers who wish to add thrift stores to their shopping itineraries need to be savvy. While mulling over a prospective buy is a virtue when shopping retail, it’s a detriment in thrift shopping because the items available today may not be available tomorrow,” the article states. 

If you’re looking for items to give purchased from a thrift store you have to know how to find quality items and what to look for.  I learned that the trick to seeking out top items surrounds “knowing what to look for and what to avoid.” 

With the holiday season upon us this year, this is a great time to start looking at what you can find to give as gift items if you choose to go the thrift store route.  Usually when I do venture out to a thrift store (and I don’t go regularly) I try to look for designer items, especially if I’m looking at clothing for myself or my daughter.  Recently I’ve been fortunate to find sweaters for myself and my daughter by Liz Claiborne, H&M, Arizona, Banana Republic, the Gap, and Jones New York.  I picked up a beautiful silk blouse and a suit for myself by Giorgio Armani; I scooped up a pin striped suit by Jones New York.  

You have to be prepared to take your time looking — you never know exactly what you’re going to find.

Thrift shopping can be ideal if you’re looking for something to wear to a holiday function.  Usually you’ll find elegant gowns donated that have been worn perhaps once or twice and appear practically new, and at prices that will make your mouth drop. This is especially if you don’t want to run out and pay an outrageous price on something nice to wear.  One thing you have to be closely aware of is knowing what to avoid; look for rips, stains, faulty zippers, missing buttons, holes and other irregularities.  I’d recommend dry cleaning or washing whatever you select before wearing.

Emika Porter in the article said, “Forget about putting stuff on hold and saying, ‘I’m going to come back for it.’ ” She is a professional thrift store shopper and owner of Haute Thrif’Ture, a styling service that offers clients the ability to replicate high-priced looks via thrift store purchases.  She adds, “You’d better grab it because it will be gone.”  I consider this thrift shopping-101.  Your loss can be someone else’s gaine.  Anyone who is an avid thrift shopper knows that putting anything on hold at a thrift store is asking for trouble.  Chances are it may not be “on hold” when you get back.  Get it while you see it.  There are no guarantees that if you go back later that day or the next day that it’s going to be there.  If you are unsure about purchasing something, and you walk around with it unsure, you are likely to discover that someone else is eyeing what you’re holding and waiting for you to put it down.  That’s when your procrastination and uncertainty to purchase something may work to benefit someone else.

Porter also recommended that thrift store newbies become familiar with stores’ sales calendars.  At Catholic Charities, for example, half-off prices are available to seniors on Tuesdays, men on Wednesdays, women on Fridays and everybody on Thursdays, while Saturdays are half-off furniture days.  At Goodwill, meanwhile, the sales calendar includes discount days for military personnel and casino workers as well as various specials throughout the month.

Depending on the thrift store you go to you are likely to find gift wrapping paper, holiday decorations, gift boxes and other holiday essentials at whopping prices.

It’s ironic, though, because I’ve seen an increase in thrift stores customers just at the Goodwill near where I live in Los Angeles located at Western Avenue and Venice and the location on 6th Street.  The Hollywood Goodwill is always crowded, but the crowd seemed to have increased this year to where you can’t even get into the parking lot.  It’s definitely a testament to the downturn of the economy, how it has pushed the penny of budgeting to the extreme limits that many families have had to and are continuing to adjust their usual holiday spending in order to save where saving counts.

It’s become a viable resource for seeking out good finds in clothing, housewares, shoes and other items.  Even I can admit that although I have come away from regular thrift shopping.  This year has been the hardest, but I’ve managed to buy everything at bargain prices.  The thrift store has been a safe haven for purchasing some of my winter sweaters, suits, and special occasion wears — when my money can only go so far and the thrift store is my only other option.   Surprisingly, my daughter likes going — and that’s because she understands the value of saving money (she’s 16 next month).

In spite of my own personal feelings of thrift shopping stemming from my past experiences, I am not ashamed to admit that I am not above thrift shopping by no means.  In these times you do what you have to do to save money and to survive. 

You do find great items, some practically new, but you have to have a good eye otherwise you will have wasted money on something you can’t use or wear.  Try everything on!  I can’t emphasize this enough.  While some thrift stores will allow you to return items for exchange of a refund, some thrift stores will not.  Once you buy it and walk out the door, there’s no returning it unless you’re donating it back.  Don’t buy anything you have to repair or is badly damaged — that’s just my opinion.  There are times when a thrift store won’t care what it puts on its racks so, again, you have to have a good eye and know what to look for in good buys.

Moving into having a thrifty lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cheap.  It means you’re thinking and shopping smart.  Making every dime you spend count.

In conclusion, I’m sure that everyone will agree that regardless of the direction consumers are being driven in this tough economy, the best gift you can give someone this holiday season is a job, families a home, and food to feed everyone in need.

To read the entire article that I read go to

Amen, and God Bless.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 6:57 am

    Great tips. Thrift shopping truly has become a booming business. I’ve always been an avid thrifter but I’m really excited people are now embracing thrift stores.

    • November 22, 2010 8:00 am

      Thank you so much for the reply. It means a lot. Thrift stores are seeing a lot of business to date. And I am a believer that having a thrifty lifestyle just means you’re a smart shopper with a good eye for quality bargains.

  2. December 1, 2010 12:56 pm

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

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