Saturday, March 22, 2008

My favorite clothing store: my local thrift shop!

I was surprised by the comments to this post by Free Money Finance on shopping for clothing at thrift stores. One person stated "Wearin used clothes is gross." and another said "... the experience of shopping at a second hand store just plain sucks. There is no organization, it's cluttered and you have to dig through mismatched items to find anything good."

In my recent trips to the thrift store in my small town, I have found four handkerchiefs at 50 cents a piece and two pairs of jeans in my size for $11. I am happy to have cotton hankies so I can use fewer disposable tissues and I only spent $2 plus tax. I needed new jeans as the inside seams were showing wear on the ones I have. Since I am in the plus-size range, I was thrilled to find two jeans, barely worn that fit me at the thrift store. I saved myself over $30 on those two pairs of pants because I would have bought new if I had not found these jeans.

I am not sure why one person would say used clothes are gross. In the old days, clothes were worn until they were scraps and even the scraps were reused for rags, floor coverings and quilts. I wore hand-me-downs from my aunts when I lived with my parents and thought it was wonderful. My siblings wore clothing from older siblings and cousins. Just wash used clothing once and they are clean for your use. Washing before wearing is recommended for new clothing as well with all the chemicals and treatments (and who knows how many people fingered or tried on the clothing before you). I am disappointed some people have this attitude, but it leaves more goodies for me to find!

As for poor shopping experiences, I disagree. Yes, you may have to dig a bit more or have more patience going to thrift stores. While I like my new jeans, I did have to look for two months before I found something in my size I liked and fit me. However, the handkerchiefs were a surprise and I did have to dig. Granted, I am not the most patient person and was just about done with digging through the linens before I found the hankies I bought, but I like finding these little treasures. Items are organized on shelves in general groupings, clothing by size and shoes same. I can usually find what I am looking for if the store has it. Otherwise, I look over the containers, decide they are not the right type and move on.

Here is another secret: I do not have to buy anything in the store. I have looked through the store and did not find anything I wanted or needed and walked out empty handed. I have also walked out with an item I certainly did not need but decided to buy anyway. I like my waffle iron, but I am glad I bought it used not new. I may end up giving it to my sister who really enjoyed the waffles we made when she visited.

In addition, I shop for a reason. My sister recently rented her first solo apartment and needed items to fill in her kitchen. I found tongs and a pizza cutter for her use. I keep an eye out for solid wood end tables and a nice rocking chair for my home. I want to add to my stock of small plastic containers to hold food, but am particular about which I will buy. If I do not find these items, I wait until next time. Knowing what you want makes it easy to go through the store, check out the relevant sections and survey the territory for items to match your need.

Despite the negative comments from a couple Free Money Finance reviewers, most were glad thrift stores are an option. I may be a more recent convert to shopping secondhand, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the variety of clothing I liked and fit me at the thrift store. In fact, I found clothing in near-new condition for me and my niece (her birthday gift) at my favorite local thrift store. Now that I know I have this store as an option, it is my first choice for clothing before I shop new. Fewer resources are consumed when purchasing used (my green living aim!) and I save some money on my clothing. I hope you consider thrift stores and garage sales as a great opportunity to find clothing to add to your wardrobe at a great price.

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