If you like to dress up without busting your wallet then you need to know how to shop effectively at thrift stores.
Do you like dressing up but don’t have enough money to spend on clothes?
Do you like to keep on updating your wardrobe with fashionable pieces?
Are you fond of vintage pieces?
How about designer labels, do you also admire the keen attention to detail that they give their clothes, shoes, and bags?
You can enjoy these things without spending tons of money. Go thrift shopping!
Here are some tips on how to shop effectively at thrift stores so you can save money and score great deals.
Table of Contents
Just because the bag says Louis Vuitton, it doesn’t mean that it’s an authentic one. And just because you found one in a thrift shop, it doesn’t mean that the bag is fake.
From time to time, an authentic bag shows up in various thrift shops around the world.
I have found and bought numerous authentic designer bags, shoes, and clothes in the past few years that I have been thrifting. I have also seen so many good fakes that could easily pass as authentic items to the untrained eyes.
The key to scoring an authentic designer bag or designer clothes in a thrift shop is to understand authenticity.
There are lots of online forums and websites that could help explain how to spot an authentic designer bag from a fake one. Make sure to read these posts and examine carefully the pictures provided to know what an authentic bag is.
Some pieces are very hard to authenticate though (such as Louis Vuitton and Prada Nylon Bags) and might require a professional authenticator to check if the bag is real.
If the bag is being sold very cheaply and you have a hunch that it’s an authentic one, then decide if you want to take your chances.
Take pictures of the bag as soon as you get home and send them to a credible authenticator.
Here are some basic authenticity guidelines if you are buying a designer item from a thrift store:
1. Check the font – It should match the font used by the brand.
2. Check the stitch quality and stitch count – Usually, high-end design items have higher stitch counts than their counterfeited versions.
3. Check the tags – Depending on the brand, a lot of high-end labels are made in Italy or Spain but a lot of them are also made in other countries so do some online research.
4. Check the material used – High-quality leather feels good to the touch and lambskin leather is a very soft material. Familiarise yourself with different kinds of materials.
I did this by frequently going to thrift shops and leather stores to see and feel different kinds of leather and fabric.
5. Stay away from brands you’re not familiar with – I stay away from extremely hyped sports brands such as Adidas and Nike because I’m not very familiar with their authenticity.
And also because they have very amazing fakes. There’s a high chance of acquiring a fake item if you’re not familiar with the real authentic items.
I’m sure that there are tons of authentic items from these brands in thrift stores as well. However, I’m not that comfortable buying them because of my knowledge level of these brands.
6. Build a relationship with the thrift store salespeople – In some thrift stores, I returned some items that I later found to as fake. I did some self-authentication after I bought those items and compared them with available pictures online.
After realizing that what I bought was a good fake, I went back to return the item.
Most thrift stores here don’t refund. I always opt for an exchange instead.
Please also make sure that you return the item as soon as possible. Most thrift stores that I have been to only allow returns that are bought the previous day.
Check for Damage and Other Defects
A lot of items being sold in thrift shops are used items and unused but very old stocks. Most unworn old stocks will still have their tags on them while the used ones will have obvious signs of wear.
Choose the pieces that have minimal signs of wear. And don’t purchase anything that has a hole, tear, or huge stains.
What are the parts that you need to check thoroughly?
1. If you are buying used clothes – Check the seams if they’re intact and check if there are holes in the clothes. If you are buying a lot then this will be very tiring to do. Do this in a well-lit area of the store. Check if there are thread runs and stains.
2. If you are buying bags – Check the stitches. Check the lining of all pockets, some vintage bags will develop a sticky lining over time (depending on the materials used). Check the hardware if there is any rust.
3. Check if the straps are intact and complete. If you do not see the shoulder strap right away, check the pockets of the bag, a lot of thrift stores that I’ve been to store the shoulder straps of the bags inside the bag itself.
4. If you are buying shoes – Check the soles if there are gaps or broken heels. Check the lining of the shoes if there are tears or holes.
Know When to Go
What is ‘New Arrival’ Day? This is the day when they release their newly bought stocks. And this is the best day to score high-end items.
This is a chaotic day for thrifters and flippers because it will be jam-packed and crazy so you better be ready.
If you are only buying for personal use then I suggest that you go on their ‘Sale’ days. Usually, this happens a week or two after their ‘New Arrival’ day.
As weeks went by, they slashed the price until it reached the lowest possible price they could go for. The cheapest time to go is the week before they release their new stocks.
It would be crazy to memorize these dates as it often changes so the best strategy is to just leave them your mobile number and ask them to text you once they have new stocks or once they go on sale.
How To Clean Your Purchased Items
As soon as you get home, wash the clothes carefully. Remember that a lot of these clothes are used (or old stocks) and need a thorough cleaning.
But before you wash the clothes, check out their care labels. Some items are not meant to be machine-washed. Some may need to be dry-cleaned. And some might not need washing at all like leather and will just need to be wiped using a leather cleaner.
What I usually do is hand-wash the delicates. I only use the washing machine for non-delicates such as denim jeans and jackets.
I try to avoid buying items that are high-maintenance or those that need to be cleaned by professionals.
For bags, I immediately wiped them with a damp cloth. I air-dry the bags afterward and then clean them again with leather cleaner.
I also clean the metal hardware using metal polish solutions/creams. After a few hours, I’ll apply some leather conditioner to help improve the quality of the bag.
I also store my leather goods in a separate room with an electric dehumidifier to prevent molding.How to Shop Effectively in Thrift Stores – Tips and Tricks from Experienced Thrifters Click To Tweet
Do you also love shopping in thrift stores? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comment section below. Thanks!