Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thrift Shopping 101

Hello Beauties! Before I get started with today's post, I wanted to let you all know about the giveaway happening on my facebook page! For your chance to win a Benefit powder eye shadow in "Fishnets", just "like" Haute Lunch on Facebook and leave a comment under the giveaway thread! Click here to enter now!

Now on to thrifting! Thrift shopping can be a great way to build up your wardrobe without going broke. I first started thrifting a couple years ago when I began grad school and realized I wasn't going to be able to spend money on clothing and accessories like I used to. Since then, I've gotten pretty good at finding amazing items for prices you wouldn't believe! Some of my best thrift store finds include a few pairs of Citizen's of Humanity jeans (all less that $10 each), a Juicy Couture sequined top for $4, and some amazing, original artwork for $5-$30!

While thrift shopping can result in some major bargains, it can also be very time consuming. To minimize the amount of time and effort needed to find the best deals, here are some tips I've learned over the last couple years:

    Pilsen Vintage
  • Do your research. Before you head out, you should first research the stores around you to find out which ones would be most likely to have the types of things your looking for.  For example, if I'm looking for some great vintage accessories, I like to go to Pilsen Vintage & Thrift. If I'm looking for trendy items, I like Buffalo ExchangeCrossroads Trading Co., or even Goodwill. And if I'm looking for great housewares or decor, the ever so seedy Salvation Army in downtown Chicago can't be beat! Selections definitely vary depending on the store and the neighborhood, so it pays to do some research before you go! Yelp or other review sites can be a great place to start your research.
  • Shop in wealthy neighborhoods. Even if you don't live in a wealthy neighborhood, venturing out to one will be well worth the trip. People don't like to go out of their way to donate or sell their possessions, so areas with a lot of wealthy people tend to have thrift stores filled with valuable items. Sometimes you can even find brand new items, such as the Michael Kors sweater I grabbed at a local Goodwill for just $5!
Salvation Army
  • Shop at the beginning of the month. This is particularly true if you're looking for furniture or other home decor. People tend to move (and donate) at the end of the month, so stores typically have the largest selection at the beginning of the month. Keep in mind it usually takes 2-5 days to sort and price new items, so shopping around the 3rd-5th of the month is ideal.
  • Don't hesitate. If you see something you like, hold onto it. You can make your final decision later, but if you wait, it's likely to be gone by the time you come back. Remember, you're not necessarily the only one in the store with a keen eye. :)
  • Check for damage. Before you even look at a price tag, check the item for damage. There's no reason to buy something that is stained or broken. The only exception I would make for this is if I can fix whatever is wrong (such as a broken zipper). If you want to buy something that is flawed, as for a discount.
Crossroads Trading Co.
  • Ask a sales associate. Looking for something specific? Ask one of the sales people if they know where you might find it. I often will look for women around my age as they are more likely to notice inventory that I would be interested in. If they don't know where a pair of Citizen's are, they usually offer to help me look.
  • Don't buy it just because it's a deal. I've made this mistake more than once. For example, I might see a BCBG dress or a Kate Spade handbag, and be so smitten with the price tag, that I buy it without fully evaluating if it will work with other items in my wardrobe. Luckily, if you do buy items that you later don't want, some stores let your return them, or you can sell them on ebay (often for more than you paid)!
Buffalo Exchange
  • Be persistent. I might not always score big when I visit a thrift store, but I don't let that get me down. I try to visit my favorite shops at least once a month. The inventory is always changing, and I know that even if my most recent trip was a bust, I'm likely to find a real treasure the next time around!

I hope these tips help you score a great deal the next time you go thrift shopping! I really enjoy shopping (as I'm sure you all know), and I'm glad I discovered thrifting because it's let me feed my shopping habit without sending me to the poor house! I'd love to hear what fabulous treasures you've found while thrift shopping. Also, if you have any other thrift shopping tips, I'd love the hear them as well!


  1. great tips Tara! I have been lucky more than once when I took the tag off of an item that I wanted, and after taking the tag to the register and paying for the item I have gone to collect it and seen someone else trying to buy it! If I didn't take the tag off to begin with, it would have been gone by the time I made my way back around!

  2. you know, i've never even thought about shopping at the start of the month--that makes so much sense. next time i go thrifting i will definitely do it at the beginning of the month and in a wealthy area in scottsdale. thanks for the tips tara!

  3. I've never heard about shopping at the beginning of a month, I'll have to start doing that! These are great tips, thanks Tara!

  4. Glad you ladies found this info helpful! I love going thrifting, and am so excited when I come home with a great deal!

  5. I love this post Tara! I love thrifting, I have a Plato's Closet down the street from me, which I assume is similar to a Buffalo Exchange, I ALWAYS find something there - I actually have better luck finding items in my size at Plato's versus my favorite stores in the Mall.

    xo Teresa

  6. Such great advice - I never thought about the fact that people move at the end of the month and would dump their stuff - brilliant!

  7. Shop in a wealthy neighborhood...So clutch!

  8. Such great tips! I'm ALL ABOUT shopping in the wealthy neighborhood, especially around here near Palm Beach. But so many other good tips here I hadn't thought of. Thx, lady!
    alyson --- www.theaveragegirlsguide.com

  9. Even though you know I already read this yesterday, I didn't get a chance to leave a comment (saw it through my phone :/).

    I love being thrifty, and you do find great things when you really look! I've been pretty successful finding amazing pieces at Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange.


  10. I love this post! Good tips!

  11. Really good point about shopping in wealthy areas, am going to do that from now on! ! Thanks for the comment, I've got an inspiration post up at the moment, hoping to do a full one maybe tomorrow!
    Izzy xo

  12. I so needed those tips..They are brilliant and Im going to use them for sure! Thanks, sweetie

  13. Thanks for sharing. I so needed those tips.

  14. good tips...i am a certified thriftaholic and always find such cool things

  15. Awesome tips, thanks for sharing! Can't wait to hit the thrift store!