Given that you don’t have unlimited time OR an unlimited budget, how do you make thrifting work for you? Has your thrifting changed as you’ve gotten better at it? Unlike your younger self, you can’t spend your life in cut-offs that ‘sort of fit’. So how do you find good stuff without spending a parcel of time and money on near misses?
I went thrifting with my friend Caitlin the other weekend – she racked up several items to try on and I struck out, so I ended up in the very spacious dressing room (thanks Newnan Goodwill!) giving her picks the thumbs up or down.
(Shoutout to my mom for training me to think it’s fun to help someone else try clothes on – Ma, you would have been proud of my re-hanging garments and sorting into yes/no/maybe piles while my friend kept zipping through her selections.)
My friend mentioned at the beginning of the process that she always tries things on twice, to give herself some time to marinate on a selection before sealing the deal. I nodded in agreement – sometimes you just need to revisit a piece to decide if it’s coming home with you.
But then she found this purple, leopard print dress by Soprano (retailed for around $50). My friend’s face lit up and we both oooohed and ahhhhed – it was love at first fit. “I won’t have to try this on a second time!” she gushed. Continue reading “Love It or Leave It – or, Learning to Say No to Clothes at the Thrift Store”
This post should really be called “The Style Magician…” because that is what my friend called the process when she talked about it to her spouse. But I don’t think magicians pay house calls, and “The Style Magician” sounded a lot more hokey than “The Style Doctor.”
A few weeks ago my friend Caitlin asked if I would come hang at her house and help her evaluate her style (and her closet). I couldn’t say YES! fast enough. Continue reading “The Style Doctor Pays a House Call”
I talked Tuesday about how much of a circus, shopping-wise, the Goodwill Grand Opening was. I got there about 2 hours before the doors opened to tour the store and check out the merchandise, so I had spotted a few things I was interested in, but by the time I got around to shopping, a few of them were gone (I’m looking at you, blue dresses).
However, I did nab a stellar J. Crew white denim jacket, which, while not on my current thrifting list, will serve as a great thrift upgrade for the Calvin Klein jean jacket I got on sale for $25 in college:
The blue color means it reads decidedly casual, which limits its versatility a bit. But more importantly, a decade and a half on it now has a tear – sad day:
It’s work appropriate, and a perfect layer for our Southern climate where it is sultry all summer long (starting with 90 degrees at the end of April) but we insist on air conditioning the living tar out of our interior spaces. You better be prepared to cover up that sun dress, Sugar.
I also found this lovely top, which, while unlined and probably not stellar quality, put a smile on my face. The bold colors and the plump little birds just make you want to sing, no?
The sleeves are long (to the beginning of the elbow) and fitted, which is a different and cool detail, and the shoulders fit great, but the rest of the top is sort of swingy – much larger down below. I’m debating whether to have it tailored to a more boxy silhouette (a la this top). Having the armholes altered will probably cost a pretty penny… curse my lack of sewing skills! If I can’t make it work tailored, I very well may hang it against the back of my closet as wall art.
Last but not least, The Grouchy Ladybug, a childhood favorite, in toddler-friendly board book form:
We probably own 10x my child’s weight in children’s books.
What delicious finds have you discovered in thrift stores lately?
Accidental double post this morning, y’all – check back tomorrow for that post updated with photos!
Oh my goodness, y’all.
A Goodwill Grand Opening is like Black Friday. People wait outside in a line for hours and then the store is mobbed in a rush of craziness. Polite craziness, no killing-each-other-over-TVs craziness. But still craziness.
Never again. Because the checkout line? It took an hour to get through. My legs hurt just thinking about it.
The part before the doors open was super cool.
I got to roam the newly stocked aisles all by myself, and dang if they weren’t gorgeous. It was hard to look at some great finds and then walk away until it was time to shop.
And I wasn’t super quick on the draw when it came to the doors opening (that was also tour time behind-the-scenes…), so I missed a few things I had my eyes on (like the hangers lower right above. Sigh). But if you can’t have a sense of humor about your luck and let others enjoy good finds, too, where’s the fun in it?
Re: lines snaking out into the parking lot, I asked Sidney, who was a lovely host and works in marketing at Goodwill of North Georgia, what the big deal was. Turns out Goodwills (at least here in northern GA) like to put out their best stuff for grand openings, and they have weeks leading up to the big day to select the top tier items out of the backlog of donations they’ve received while the store was in the final stages of preparation.
So you get shelves that look like this:
(Special price shoe wall of my dreams:)
And racks that look like this:
And some really amazing finds, like a whole shoe section full of Vans from baby- to grown man-size:
An hour later, though, that shelf is going to look like this:
If you can’t stand rushed shopping situations, stay home. But if you love the adrenaline of trying to nab the best deals alongside some stiff competition, get in there and enjoy yourself!
My advice if you want to get in on the grand opening goodies is to go in right when it opens and spend 15 minutes cruising, then hop right into the checkout line. You can always come back and enjoy the ever-changing merchandise at your leisure.
Also, bring something to do in line (for me it was work email on my phone). Or talk to other shoppers waiting their turn at the cash registers. I met some great people that morning.
Various folks involved in making this Goodwill happen spoke before the tours and door opening, and despite the potential for such speech-making events to be dull, they were engaging and told a great story.
Did y’all know that Goodwill of North Georgia has 2.9 million donors every year, opens 3-5 new stores per year (that’s mind-blowing), has revenues in the millions and used that money to put 16,000 people to work last year? Their goal for this year is to assist 20,000 folks with job training and placement and they’re on track to exceed that amount. This location’s new career center will be a huge help towards in achieving that goal.
Diara shared his experience as a graduate of the career center program, vice president of the alumni program, and now a participant in GoodBiz, an entrepreneurship program he’s using to get his web development and marketing business off the ground. He teared up talking about how his 9-year-old daughter sees herself as a content contributor now that he’s a small business owner and how it’s changed his whole family’s outlook. (He also recently went to DC to talk with legislators about Goodwill’s work. Awesome.)
Like I needed another reason to donate and shop…
Behind the Scenes
We got a tour of what lies behind those double swinging doors you commonly see in Goodwills.
Donations get dropped off here and immediately sorted for what’s usable/not:
Some things do get trashed but pretty much everything that can be sold, either on their floor or to salvagers/recyclers, is. Here are bales of extra clothing that isn’t in good enough condition to be sold; they’ll go to a clothing recycler:
Usable items get sorted by store area and tagged with the color of the week, which helps the store track how long merchandise has been on the floor. Typically, if an item is going to sell, it’ll do so within a month; items on the floor at the end of that time period get pulled for recycling.
Fun fact: to help with that rolling inventory concept, the color of the week changes on Sundays, so stop by that day or Monday to nab things that have just been marked down.
Detailed instructions for pricing and tagging items:
Then merchandise waits its turn to travel to the floor (which happens several times daily).
The smooshed angle of this shot gives you an idea of how crowded it was…
And then you buy it!
As I mentioned, the shelves were lined with their best stuff, so I won’t know until my next visit (and believe me, there will be a next visit) how their selection shakes out. But I was pleased with what I saw – Willi Smith, Loft, Gap, Talbots, Vans, Justin boots, etc. – and with the organization (by color). Nothing was crammed or in disarray.
The changing room doors have locks on the inside, which means they don’t automatically lock when you close them, hallelujah! That’s one of the biggest frustrations of other area Goodwills with self-locking changing room doors – no one’s using the stalls but you can’t get in without tracking down a store associate. (They also had a call button at the fitting rooms, though, so it’s possible the doors do get locked back up periodically. You’ve been warned.)
The store is spacious and well-lit and the aisles are decently wide. One downside is that the line to the cashiers runs parallel to about half the dress section (just like in the Piedmont store), which means it’s harder to get at those dresses if there’s a line.
Big bonus: oversized try-on mirror for all your quick over-the-clothes try-ons. (This is also where the best thrifting camaraderie happens.)
Overall, it’s a great store and a great location. This site used to be an eye-sore after an old K-Mart pulled out, but now the store, career center, and eventually Goodwill of North Georgia headquarters are bringing new life to the neighborhood. Just seeing the re-done parking lot and newly planted trees put a smile on my face. And I’m hopeful that the other stores in the existing shopping center will get a boost from this new anchor store. (Shoutout to Madras Mantra if you love Indian food – very tasty vegetarian food. Try the lunch buffet.)
Speaking of food…arguably the best part of the whole thing was the vegetarian breakfast frittata. The catering was done by a Goodwill career center graduate… I’ll get her name from the gracious folks at Goodwill to share with all of y’all in the Atlanta area because it was That. Good.
Hope you enjoyed the tour. Tune in on Thursday for my finds from this store!
Would you ever brave a grand opening like this, or do you prefer to wait a few days for things to settle down? Scroll down to comment!
Goodwill has an online auction site!
My dear friend Ashley (re)directed my attention to this marvel a few weeks ago; I had encountered it awhile ago but forgotten its existence. For shame!
She suggested I share it with you all and she was exactly right! It’s the perfect way to thrift from the comfort of your own home if you do not have the time to spend browsing racks or you live too far from decent thrifting to regularly shop in person.
The site hosts thousands of clothing, jewelry, art, antique, and collectible listings from Goodwills across the country. Go have a browse and see if anything sparks your interest!
Thanks Smash. And if you, dear readers, have something similar to bring to my attention, shoot me an email at leah at thriftshopchic dot com to share!
Has a luggage crisis ever left you with the need to assemble a mini wardrobe, stat? Rather than head to the mall and spill a bunch of cash, you might consider hitting up a local thrift store to find a few items to tide you over ’til your luggage arrives or your travels come to an end.
Remember the weekend travel wardrobe I packed for a holiday trip? Well, we went on that trip recently…and I left the entire, flim-flammin’, ingeniously packed thing behind.
I chalk it up to my child being on strike and the whole family being late and the fact that I’d put the bag in a safe (read: foolishly out of sight) place to prevent said child from emptying its entire contents on the floor…anyway, we got to the airport sans bag and with no time to go back for it.
The upside was that it was a lot lighter navigating the airport without it!
The other upside was that we were going to visit family (thus: laundry) and that said family loves a trip to the thrift store.
So the day after we arrived (and after I had slept in the clothes I traveled in…just to make sure I was telling the truth in that post about wearing literally the same clothes for everything), we headed to a local Goodwill.
I gave myself 30 minutes to find clothes to get me through the next few days, clothes I wouldn’t hate wearing in real life once I got home. I figured if I was spending money on something anyway, I’d try to make those purchases count.
(Meanwhile, my in-laws went looking for clothes for my kid, whose wardrobe was also nicely packed away in our travel tote, at home. My mother-in-law was PSYCHED. No really, she loves dressing her grandkid.)
So…what did I end up finding? Did I make it in under 30 minutes? How can you, too, thrift a passable wardrobe on very short notice? All will be revealed…