I’ve recently acquired a new passion: Value Village shopping. Later today when I start to look like a real person instead of a bedraggled Muppet I’ll post some pics of my rad VV finds in the past few weeks. When I find a willing camera person I’m going to start recording the excursions. Not every single boring detail (because trust me, when thrift store shopping, there are a lot. There’s a whole lotta crap out there), but just the important stuff so that you can see the sweet, sweet deals in action.
A few ‘how to’s before we start out:
1. Value Village is expensive as a general whole. If you live in the US, Plato’s Closet is a great place for cheap finds (I have some of those that I’ll dazzle you with as well), but still pretty ‘expensive’. Salvation Army thrift stores are jam packed with ‘stuff’, but are even more expensive than VV. If you’re not living near a discount thrift store, which sells their wares for super turbo dirt cheap (apparently there were 2 in my fair city of Edmonton, but when I GPS’d the addresses, the buildings were vacant. I can’t snag sweet deals if there aren’t any deals to be snagged. It was disheartening. I may have journaled about it later. Just saying), try flea markets, Kijiji, and yard sales.
2. Set aside a lot of time. Don’t tell your husband that you’re going to the bank to change your name to your newly married one on your bank account (which is actually where I was going) and emerge 4 hours later from a treasure hunt. Going through every rack in thrift stores takes a lot of time, so give yourself at least a few hours if you really want to get into it. And let someone who could potentially call the police when you’re gone for 6 times longer than expected know where you’re going to be.
3. Use a cart. Unless you have the biceps of a 1970’s Arnie, by the time you make it to the jackets you’ll be wishing that you had grabbed that push cart. Put your pride aside: First of all, thrift store shopping makes you a smart shopper. Secondly, think of the bragging rights when you purchase a denim, knee-length, berber-lined Steve Madden jacket for $25 (true story. I checked it out online and saw that it retails for upwards of $250). Suck it up and grab a cart. You’ll be thankful by the time you hit the jackets and your arms are numb from the pile of ‘to try’ clothes.
4. Check your labels. Full props to the guys and gals that work at Value Village and other such thrift stores, but, for the most part they don’t know their labels. Example: A knee-length tan cord pea coat from Le Chateau is $7 more expensive than a thick, tan cord blazer-ish United Colors of Benetton jacket. See what I’m saying? Because a common label is more easily recognized then a high end label, the common gets the higher price tag, although the gem is lower. Great for you snazzy shoppers out there, but it takes a little more leg work on our part.
Also: if you see labels like Joe, 725, or anything from Stitches, Old Navy, Suzy Sher, H&M, etc. and they cost any more than $4.99: Don’t buy it. The reason for this: You probably could have bought it for not much more than that before someone potentially sweated in it during a hectic business meeting (women sweat too. And fart. Accept it).
5. Try it on. It may look awesome on the outside, but there may be issues like loose stitching, misshapen sleeves, body odor, used condoms in the pockets, etc that you won’t notice until you get it on you (not the used condom, the clothes. That’d be gross). Try it on, jump around, etc.
Most thrift store locations will only allow you to take 6 items at a time into the fitting room, so try your jackets, scarves, hats, etc on in the outer mirror in advance. You can park your cart in front of your fitting room and switch out your items as you go along. You may need to stave off a few rabid shoppers in the interim, but a ‘shoo’ with a hand flick, or a mist of water from a travel-sized bottle like you would if your cat was pooping in the plants will do the trick. Don’t beat them with your Franco Sarto shoes. You can go to prison for something like that. And there they only have those hideous orange onesies.
6. Get the frequent shopper card: VV gives you a stamp for every $5 you spend, when your card is filled you get 30% off your next purchase. That’s a pretty big discount. Cashiers who rock at customer service will offer you the card when you’re at the till, the actively disinterested ones will not. Ask. It never hurts.
Also: most thrift stores have 50% off days every month or so (Value Village’s is this Monday, Plato’s Closet doesn’t have them). Ask when their next one is. Mad savings for you.
So that’s the basic overview. I’ll follow up this weekend with pics of my recent deals to show you that, yes, those low-priced, name branded dreams can come true.
Alright then. Now I’m going to go shower. My husband told me that I smell like a million dead angels. I’ve never been told to shower in such a sweet way before. That’s love.