The Art of Thrifting

the art of thrifting

I visit thrift stores a lot. Usually to drop off donations for my clients. I don’t often venture inside. But once in a while, I plan a shopping trip. It’s an adventure for me – Kind of like a treasure hunt. But it’s easy to lose focus and start buying just because you are there. There is an art to shopping at thrift stores.

3 Tips to the Art of Thrifting

1. Pick the right store. Look for a location that is clean and organized. The front of the store will reflect what is going on in the back of the store. If the shop and its employees show attention to the small details on the retail floor, they probably run a tight ship in the back also.

2. Unlike retail shops, all items are one of a kind. You can’t ask the sales clerk if something comes in your size or if another shipment will come in soon. A cut-throat attitude is important when looking through the inventory. My rule is “it has to be perfect” or I don’t buy it. That means it has to fit with no alterations, be clean, not worn, and the perfect color.

3. Along those lines – You need to know what you are looking for. So the first step to the art of thrifting is to know what you are looking for. Bring a list!

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My Latest Finds

This weekend I ventured into a few local stores and I was prepared! I cleaned out my closet of all the items that I no longer wear or have worn to death. Here’s my pile.

I selected stores that were having sales over the holiday. I visited Unique Thrift in Falls Church Virginia. They sell everything at 50% off on holidays, so the bargains were many, but the crowds were huge. Be prepared. There are a lot of people who want a bargain.

Lastly, I visited Plato’s Closet in Chantilly Virginia with my niece. It is not a traditional thrift store. It is a resell store that caters to teenagers. Totally out of my element, so I listened to the review my niece had. She loved it!

I enjoyed my day of hunting and found some bargains by following the art-of-the-thrift.

If you are looking for ideas on how to organize your new finds after thrifting, read the article How to Organize Your Closet According to Modular Closets.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization.

She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client.

Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.

Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization.

She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client.

Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.

10 Comments

  1. Diane N Quintana on June 27, 2022 at 9:00 am

    This is very interesting, Janet. I love your remark that everything is one of a kind at a Thrift Store. Of course, it’s true because everything comes from donations but I can understand why someone may look for an item in a different size. That’s what we do when we shop. I visit thrift stores often on behalf of my clients and it’s always to drop things off.

    • Janet Schiesl on June 27, 2022 at 10:37 pm

      Diane, If you have the patiencce and willpower to get only what you need, thrift stores can be a great way to repurpose and save money!

  2. Linda Samuels on June 27, 2022 at 10:22 am

    It sounds like you had a lot of fun this weekend with bringing your donates in and hunting for a few bargains. These days I tend to donate more than buy things. When our girls were young, the thrift store was our go-to place for Halloween costumes or outfits for various plays they were in. We could always find something and the price was right.

    • Janet Schiesl on June 27, 2022 at 10:36 pm

      I definitely do more donations than shopping as well Linda!

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on June 27, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    I had to have a plan before I would go thrifting, or I would get overwhelmed by all the stuff. If I were looking for a coat, I would go to the shop and look at coats only.

    Thanks for the tips.

  4. Seana Turner on June 27, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    I love the idea of a resale shop that focuses on teenagers. I wish we had one of those around here. They have an entirely different wardrobe, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be interested in the things that older adults are wearing (and donating). So smart! I might talk to our local thrift shop about this idea. Maybe even a separate section for this would work.

    • Janet Schiesl on June 27, 2022 at 10:33 pm

      Yes, Seana, a section for teenagers can be ideal. They have toy sections and book sections. So a teenage section may be a great way to entice the younger generation.

  5. Julie Bestry on July 1, 2022 at 3:07 am

    It sounds like you had a delightful time! Meanwhile, I’ve only ever experienced a thrift shop from the perspective of dropping off clients’ donations, but I have to say, I’ve yet to ever see a “clean and organized” one in any of the places I’ve lived down here. And, for what it’s worth, Plato’s Closets near here are consignment shops; maybe that’s what you meant by “resell” but those are definitely more professionally run that the thrift shops around here, and not only limited in age/style but also in sizes. I think an actual thrift shop for teens/20somethings would super for the plethora of low-income teens.

    • Janet Schiesl on July 1, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      Interesting, but I know that not all Thrift Stores are the same. Where I live it’s big business and the nicer stores attract better donations and shoppers.

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