The Art Of Vintage Shopping And Thrifting
April 7, 2008, 8:38 pm
Filed under: 2008, Random | Tags: , , , , ,

As a great fan of things vintage, I have spent a significant amount of my retail hunting in thrift stores. People I meet always ask how the hell I found what I did, or got it so cheaply. My mother calls it the “scrounge gene”, but unlike everything else genetic; you can develop this skill for yourself.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Invest enough time. Don’t rush yourself, or you won’t find anything. Thrifting is like brushing you r hair…you need to go slowly, or you’ll miss the best knots.
  • Don’t get choosy right away. With larger thrifting stores (such as Value Village), you want to avoid the decision making process while your going through the aisles. If you throw all your maybes and probablys in a cart and do the once-over before you hit the change room, you’re not only streamlining your shopping experience but avoiding aisle clog-ups and the chance that you won’t be able to find that magical sweater when you go back for it once you’ve made up your mind.
  • Shop the day before a big sale, and the day of. Let’s face it, everyone can be cheap. If you make a run for the good merchandise before a sale when everyone has held off their hunts, you’re going to come out on top. Pick out the things that you just can’t put down and pay regular price for those, while scouting out items of lesser excitement to take a chance on leaving for the sale price.
  • Any thrift shop in the swanky suburbs (such as Kerrisdale in Vancouver) will usually have a better haul. Since most of the people living around these ‘hoods like these want things that are new and shiny, you can take advantage of their distaste for the pre-loved. These stores will also likely be less-travelled, not as picked over and filled with higher quality items to match the geographic type of the clientele.
  • Know which shops have the better prices on certain items. Not every place has rad deals on every single one of your favourite items, but it helps to know where to look to minimize cost efforts. If you’re unsure which place to look for what, ask around!
  • Invest in a sewing machine (if you don’t already have one). You don’t have to be a stitch wizard to do minor size alterations on things like vests, shirts, etc. Since you can never know what size of item you’ll find, it helps to be able to compromise a bit with the machine as a backup. I’d suggest finding a machine on clearance at a large retailer like Superstore or Wal-mart; you’ll find the highest quality machine for the lowest amount of coin.
  • Check the runways (or your favourite style blog) for trends before you shop. It helps to get a refresher on the fashion goings-on within your area. Photos from street style blogs can also give you ideas on exactly what you need to spruce up a tired wardrobe.
  • Get into the opposite gender’s section. This works better for women than men, but try checking out the ‘other side’ of the aisle. Obviously you can’t wear everything, but certain androgynous things like oxfords, sweaters and coats can be mingled without looking freaky.

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