Thrift Store Shopping: Plan of Attack (Part 2)

Thrift Store Shopping:  Plan of Attack (Part 2)

This week, we’re talking about strategies for shopping at thrift stores.  In the last post, I talked about what I look for when I go into a thrift store.  Today, we’re going to talk about organizing your time while you’re there.

Strategies for getting in and out.

When I can, I go thrifting kid-free.  That often means I don’t have as much time, but I can be much more efficient.  If you don’t have this luxury, I suggest bringing entertainment with you (I have utilized an iPad when fabric shopping, and it was totally worth it!).  Another option is to find a toy for your child to play with while in the store.  It’s up to you if it goes home with you or not.  A little time lost to the toy section is usually worth it if it buys you shopping time.

When my time is limited (or even when it’s not), I go in with an idea of what sort of item (or items) I am looking for.  Here’s a sample of a longer list for me:

*look at sheets for cute vintage prints or decent knit fabric

*look in boot section for motorcycle boots

*slim/skinny jeans, dark wash

*long, men’s sweaters

Thrifting with Pattern and Branch, Part 2

Sometimes, my list is as minimal as looking through the pants section for black dress pants.

When I go in, I visit each section without spending too much time.  Sometimes I get bogged down deliberating, so I make myself move on either by saying I can come back later if there is extra time (knowing that there often isn’t) or just making myself walk away.  If there is something I think I might really love, I throw it in the cart to make a final decision later.  When I get to a section where I am going to have to try on clothing, I try to go through the items quickly and put whatever I think I might want to try on in my cart, trusting my gut reaction on whether or not I think I like something.  I also try to put things in that might not normally be my first choice on the rack, knowing that they may look different when I am wearing them.

Then I go to the dressing room and try things on quickly, going with my instincts.  If I can tell I’m making myself say yes to something because “it’s such a good deal” or I “should” get it for some reason, I try to stop thinking that way and put it back.  Most likely, I won’t wear it.  If I’m really not sure, I set it aside to try it on once more at the end.  When I find something I love right away, I put it in another pile.  Then I retry the “maybes” and make my choices.

Thrifting with Pattern and Branch, Part 2

Cozy men’s fleece-lined flannel: love at first sight

I used to agonize and deliberate more, and then get stressed because all my time was slipping away.  However, after reading the book How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, (which is a great book that helps you know when to go with your gut and when to deliberate), I realized that because I had tried clothes on for many years, I could safely go with my instincts, and I started making a point of doing that.

If you happen to be at a thrift store where there are no dressing rooms, I recommend wearing leggings and a tank top as your base layer so you can try clothes on over your clothes.  Another option is to take your measurements and bring along a tape measure.  It’s more of a gamble that way, but it’s an option.

Finally, once I’ve tried everything on, I do a mental tally of my total cost to make sure it’s not more than I want to spend.  If it is, I go through and rule out the things that seem less necessary or desirable.

In the next (and last) post on thrifting, we’ll talk about knowing what to leave behind when making your final choices.


About Lisa Poblenz (patternandbranch)

I love sewing and taking pictures! Pattern and Branch is my sewing blog with periodic photography posts (and occasional other side wanderings). It's a journal of my creative practice that I hope will add to the wider community and serve as a personal record to help me remember the details of my projects (because sometimes I need help with that). Welcome to this space! Join in the conversation!

2 responses »

  1. I’m glad that you mentioned the book How We Decide. It was so pivotal in me learning when to trust my gut and when to think things through more systematically and logically. I can definitely see the application to shopping, especially since the author references several studies on that very topic. Good application to thrifting!


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