Thrift Store Finds and How to Make Them Work for You

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Finding goodies at Goodwill

Thrift Store Finds and How to Make Them Work for You

Sometimes the thrift store finds can be not only good for our wallet, but also a great time to try things you wouldn’t normally purchase. Recently I was part of our local Goodwill’s Shop and Share event. While I received a Goodwill gift card for participating in the event, this blog post was written only because of my love for secondhand shopping.

Quote of the day: “Shopping is an art. I am an artist. Respect please.” Unknown.

I know secondhand is not everyone’s cup of tea. And I get it. Even if you don’t shop at Goodwill, it’s also a great place to donate your unwanted items. I’ve learned a lot about Goodwill recently by attending a couple of their programs. They are not just about donating and shopping. Their mission is to provide education, career development, and employment opportunities to help Coloradans in need achieve self-sufficiency, dignity, and hope through the Power of Work.

Yet let me point out a funny fact. With all the Marie Kondoing that has been going on, right now is the time to find some fabulous things that someone else didn’t want. Like they say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

All styles and sizes with thrift store finds

My History with Thrifting

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about shopping secondhand. My friend, Cathy, first asked me to write a post for her blog last year. Cathy was always saying that she didn’t know how I found such great thrift store finds because she never had any luck.

It made me realize that it may be easy to me, but not to everyone. That’s when I decided to expand the subject with online thrift tips which are also very helpful with your online shopping.

My initial online shopping started when I first bought my dental practice in 1996. My assistant at the time was a huge thrifter and she would take me shopping with her. When I married Rob, the second hand shopping slowed down considerably since he was not a fan. Yet I will say, his outlook has changed now that we’ve retired.

My rationale for preloved items is two fold. One is that after I’ve worn it once, it’s basically second hand. And two, many items from the retail store have been tried on before you bought it. So it’s not like it’s really “unworn” anyways.

Could Thrifting Work for You?

I know, it’s not always easy for some people. Thrift stores can be overwhelming and feel too packed. And if you don’t have that shopping personality, then you may always say “no way.”

That’s where having a friend to help you can be SO invaluable. A friend who likes the shopping process can find things for you that you would never have picked out. This is true even with retail shopping. We tend to choose the same kinds of pieces over and over because that’s what we like and know. Finding new and fun thrift store finds takes looking at items with a different perspective.

For example the suede, faux fur coat I’m wearing below. Chelsea who is another Denver woman that I met at an earlier Goodwill event picked this out for me before it had the colored dots on it. Personally, I wouldn’t have picked this out because it has stains on it. Yet for only $5, I decided maybe I could get creative with it. You can see it in it’s original form on the Instagram post when I asked for help with it. Many people suggested different methods to get the stains off, which I tried to no avail. But then one woman gave me the idea to “paint” it. While the stains are still there, I think the designs act as a diversion.

DIY jacket from a thrift store

Tips for Finding the Right Thrift Store Finds

While this topic has been covered in my other two posts written about this subject, I did want to include a couple of additional ideas. Not that I’m an expert yet at all of these suggestions, but I find the more I do it, the better I get.

1- REALLY inspect the item before you buy it. The annoying part is getting home and realizing that there is a stain, tear or detail that you didn’t catch while shopping. Part of this can be that the thrift stores are dark and not well lit. So take the time to inspect the piece. Inside, outside and even the pockets. Just because there is a defect, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it though. Like with my coat above. Maybe you can make it work. And ALSO ask if you can get the price reduced because of the defect.

2-Check out the entire store. That means even the men’s section and the children’s section. Heck, Rob found a great painting at one of our trips that is now hanging in our living room. In fact, one of the influencers at this Goodwill Shop & Share event showcased home decor. And she used a scarf as a table runner, and a curtain as another way to decorate the top of a table.

3– It’s smart to browse through every item on the rack. Even if your first impression is that you don’t like it. Because I’ve bought something just for the buttons before (have you seen how much buttons at the fabric store cost lately?). And changing out buttons on almost anything is an easy way to update a piece. There are SO many other creative DIY tricks too. Heck, I’ve purchased used sheets before to use as drop cloths.

4-And last but not least, be open and have fun. I ALWAYS suggest thrifting for those changing times in our lives. For example when someone is in the midst of losing weight and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on transitional items. Or when you retire, and can finally wear casual and different styles. You may not realize what fits into your life yet with these changing events.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for getting wonderful thrift store finds. Or why you love or don’t love second hand shopping?

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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