How to shop and survive in the thrift store jungle

Step One: STALK YOUR PREY

Whether you seek a few classic pieces or the latest trend blasted from the past (we’re looking at you, dad sandals), you must have an idea of what you want before even stepping into the mod-print rainforest that is Goodwill. So, do your fashion homework! Read up on trends coming back into style or reference entire time periods for your style inspiration. Shopping with a half-baked goal in mind will suppress any urges to impulse buy green gator shoes at half its original 1980s price—or pass on the hunt for a bargain altogether. The latter is where inexperienced hunters fail to understand the full reality of a thrift store, led astray by the Macklemore hit single—there will be rows upon inevitable rows of your grandad’s clothes, and not all of them will look incredible.

Step Two: PROWL THE AISLES

Skim the entire store the moment you hit the linoleum tile. Once this is completed, move in for the kill and target specific clothing sections. While examining each individual hanger is the most thorough approach, consider each article of clothing quickly. Otherwise, you will have miraculously aged faster than your purchases upon exiting the store.

Step Three: DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN

Outer layers, ambiguous jackets or coats in particular, are notorious for being disorganized. Regardless of gender, check both the men’s and women’s sections for a hidden gem not yet copped. Also, hello? Oversized men’s sweaters? Need I say more?

Step Four: CLEAN YOUR KILL

While Goodwill does dry clean all of their fabric items, you may still want to wash your (new?) clothing purchases anyway for the sake of comfort. The smell of your family’s detergent will smell more familiar than a secondhand scent.

STEP FIVE: WEAR IT WITH PRIDE

When you finally rock your thrifted finds, do so with the confidence that you made a purchase friendly to your wallet, the environment and your community. The stigma surrounding thrift stores may be off-putting, but only increases your chances of finding a diamond purchase out of the rough interior of the thrift store.

Originally published in 2015 October issue of The Beacon magazine for Olentangy High School

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