I am known for my thrift shopping to the point where I consider the question, "Did you get that at a thrift shop?" to be a compliment rather than an insult :-)
I have had people ask me for my secrets to thrift shopping, so I decided to create this post to share my tips with my readers as well. All of the pictures in this post are of thrift shop clothes. There are lots of treasure waiting to be found!
The Big WHYs
Why shop at thrift stores? Of course, there's the money reason. It's a lot cheaper to buy from thrift shops or garage sales than to buy new, and if your kids is as cloth desctuctive as mine, they are likely to destroy their clothes even before they outgrow them. This is a good reason, but even if money is not a factor, consider this.
A few weeks ago, it was time to change the winter clothes out for the summer ones (here in Louisiana, it comes early!) Sprite just moved into 3Ts (she's a peanut), so a lot of her summer clothes from last year were too small. I raided her closet, full of thrifted clothes just waiting to be worn, and here's what I found:
This only includes 3T summer clothes, and her shorts from last year still fit. I did not have to buy
All of these clothes were purchased at garage sales, thrift shops, or on clearance at retail stores.
Here are my tips to start your own thrift closet.
1. Shop often. Thrift shops have a fast turnover, so their inventory is going to change dramitically from week to week. This doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of time. I visit my favorite thrift shop about every other week for usually 10 mins or less. Some times I get nothing, sometimes I need a cart to hold everything. Don't get discouraged if you don't get anything one week. try again.
2. Try all the stores. You'll find that some stores have better prices, a better selection, or better quality itens. When we lived in ND, I went to one shop for kid's clothes, another for bargains, and a third for old linens (to make pillowcase dresses). Here they are all about the same, so I have one regular store based on it's location, and visit the others only if I am passing by that way.
3. Shop big. I generally shop 2 years ahead for Sprite, which means everything that fits now or will fit in 2 years is fair game. For kids, that's generally 2 sizes. For babies, it's a lot more sizes. For shoes, I usually go up to 2 sizes bigger. Sprite has small feet that aren't growing very fast, so choose your timeline based on your kid and how fast they are growing.
4. Shop out of season. If you're looking for summer clothes, you won't have much competition in the fall, when everyone else is looking for winter. Less competition means more options! Don't let a sweater scare you away when it's 100 degrees out. It will be useful in it's own time.
5. Buy staples. Solid color tops or bottoms are a staple for us, because little girl clothes can get very clownish with too many colors and patterns. I always snatch up solids so I can pair them with a crazy print. Sprite, on the other hand, has been known to choose polka dots, dtripes, and chevrons all in one outfit. :-) Jeans and T-shirts are staples for us too. Take a quick peak at your kids clothes to look for trends or favorites.
6. Wash the clothes right away. They will be all ready to go when you need them. If you're worried about that musty thrift shop smell, add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle.
7. Organize. Sprite's clothes are in baskets on shelves, and we use her closet to store the too-big or out of season sizes. They are arranged from left to right by size, and further arranged by tops, bottoms, dresses, pajamas. This sounds crazy, but it's really just arranging by length so it's easy to find what you're looking for. The box on top has shoes and some bathing suits my aunt bought on clearance.
(Boots are thrift shop specials too!)