Updated: Jan 5
For a lot of people, secondhand shopping can be unappealing. The volume of secondhand clothing in thrift stores can be incredibly overwhelming—where do you even start when there are rows and rows of shirts, dresses and jackets to sort through? It can also be nearly impossible to find what you are looking for, with plus-size options being slim and the idea going in that most of your options will be decked out with shoulder-pads and outdated pleats.
That’s where keeping in mind a few simple tips can come in handy.
Enjoy this guest post written by Bailey from Little Pile of Good Things!
I have been shopping secondhand for about six years. For several months during my sophomore year of high school, I was at Goodwill every first Saturday of the month—hello 50% off!!
Currently, I’d estimate that about 40-50% of my most-worn clothing items are secondhand. That means they have cost me less, they have contributed less to fast fashion and the demand for production of new clothing (i.e., pollution created during production), and the pieces you find in secondhand shops are often more unique than what you are able to find in traditional clothing/home goods/etc. stores.
Now, let’s get to some tips!
Know that finding what you’re looking for might take some time.
That’s not what you wanted to hear, I know. But it’s true! Sometimes that pair of perfectly broken in jeans or that super soft, comfy sweater you are picturing might take a few different visits to the thrift store or a bit of searching online. Other times, those things might practically jump off the shelf into your shopping cart! The best thing to know going in is that you will have to work on growing your patience muscle. And as soon as you feel like you’re ready to stop looking, look a little bit longer.
Remember what you are looking for.
It can be really tempting to go overboard when prices are lower than what you might find in a traditional clothing store. But do you really need that top that is identical to the one in your closet that you don’t wear? If I were to direct this at myself—Bailey, do you really need another mug?? The answer is probably no. The best thing to do is to have an idea of what you are going to be hoping to find before you go in. Treat your shopping trip like a mission of sorts. The last time I went secondhand shopping, I was looking for a woven tote bag. I searched and searched, both in-stores and online on sites like Poshmark (which I’ll get to in the next tip). I found several bags that I liked, but I didn’t see them as being THE bag. I wanted a summery woven tote that I could carry to the beach when needed but also that I could transition into a work bag if desired. Finally, after bookmarking links on Poshmark to watch prices and passing up bags in Goodwill, I found my bag. And I’m glad I didn't settle! Just yesterday, I found a rack of similar bags in a local store that were double what I paid—AND they did not have the added benefit of being secondhand. I call that a success!!
Figure out why you are shopping secondhand.
For me, secondhand is appealing for its low environmental impact and the fact that shopping secondhand does not contribute to exploitation of those who make clothing for traditional stores. Keeping that in mind helps me maintain my commitment to staying secondhand. Are you shopping for the lower costs? Good! Remember that when you find an expensive coat online that you are itching to click “Place Order” for. Are you shopping secondhand to limit the impact on the environment? Awesome!! Remember that when you—if you are like me, anyway—are in Target and have to pass by the clothing section to get to the aisle you are needing. Remembering what your “why” is will help you stay dedicated to your cause—whatever that may be!
Find your stores.
Not every store will be your thing. For instance, I love going to Goodwill stores, but the one in my hometown is just not my fave. There are stores in Nashville where I live that some of my friends are able to find things they absolutely love. But for me, I know my best bet is going to be looking around on sites like Poshmark for clothing and leave the local thrift stores for finding home goods and decor. Speaking of Poshmark, there are great sites like Thred-Up, Depop and even eBay, that are full of great pieces at (typically) reasonable prices. Poshmark is my favorite of these sites, but maybe your store is Depop! Do a little shopping around, and find shops that sell things you are most interested in.
Make a point to shop around when you travel.
One of the best thrift stores I have ever been to is one I stumbled upon this summer on vacation in Jacksonville. I could easily have spent $500 in there—seriously. Thankfully, I made it out under $100, but there were a few, solid minutes that my eyes glazed over and I thought I would have to just take out a loan for the whole place. That being said, when you travel, see what sort of secondhand shops there are around where you will be going! Some of the best ever finds can be tucked away in inconspicuous little shops. It’s up to you to find them!
I’m Bailey, and I am a super hip Nashville-based blogger writing about low-waste living, secondhand shopping, books and bullet journaling. I love finding glass jars in thrift stores, watering my plants, reading books and eating biscuits. You can learn more at Little Pile of Good Things!