I Thrift Shopped — And Survived to Tell the Tale

My closet, once overflowing with clothes has been halved, halved again, and then halved yet again since minimalizing my home a bit less than a year ago. I still have an ample amount of clothing, which tells you how much I had before. Despite my learned frugality, one spendthrift habit has eluded me until now: the sacred art of thrift store shopping.


Like many others, I am guilty of feeling negatively about shopping there in the past. I have spent a bit of time in thrift stores in the past, mostly searching for some frugal Halloween costumes. My boyfriend likes to buy used t-shirts at thrift stores, so I often begrudgingly accompany him to a store near us. I usually walk around for a few minutes without really looking, and then I spend the next 25 minutes impatiently waiting for him to finish while trying to ignore the strange aroma of the store.

On our most recent visit something changed. Out of boredom, I decided to start looking through the clothing racks. I found a beautiful Banana Republic shirt for $5 that would be great for my work wardrobe. Encouraged, I worked my way over to other racks within the women’s section. By the time all was said and done, I had spent just over forty dollars on clothing from the thrift shop. I was able to pick up two zip-up hoodies, three t-shirts, a cocktail shaker, and some cute mint green mugs.

I have been awakened to the world of thrift shopping. Here are a few reasons you should try it too:

People gain weight. (Or sometimes lose it!) You can find some great, barely or never used pieces that are still in fashion because they simply no longer fit the previous owner. Thanks North American diet!

You can find great basics. Thrift shops’ true champions are their basics, made every year by every big brand and readily available at thrift shops. I found a simple v-neck tee that I would have spent at least $15 on for less than $5.

You can find thrift shop gold. Thrift stores often sell sterling silver serving trays for next to nothing. Antique furniture, toys, and housewares can be found that are worth a small fortune.

It’s environmentally friendly. Reusing items is a great, green habit. Have you ever purchased a book, only to read it once? Buy used at a thrift store.

It helps to support those in need. Many thrift stores not only give vouchers for clothing to those in financial need, but they also donate proceeds to worthwhile charities.

You can look like Macklemore. Who doesn’t want to “take your grandpa’s style” and wear a vest covered in dog portraits? You could even start a thrift store fashion blog, if you have a unique fashion sense and a camera to document your finds.

If, like me, you aren’t willing to switch over completely to thrift shopping you can still pick up some of your wardrobe there and some of it in regular retail stores.Thrift stores require a bit of searching, but when you find a great deal it is completely worth it.

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  1. I like to go to thrift stores. I don’t go often, but when I do I can usually find some good items.

    • gillian says:

      That’s great! I don’t get there too often either, every few months when we are in the city but that’s enough for me since I don’t need too much usually!

  2. I buy used clothes all the time. My money goes further, and people don’t know the difference. I have a pretty awesome closet. Ask anybody! :)

    • gillian says:

      Money goes incredibly far in a thrift store. I bet you do! I also have been shopping on my local “Buy and Sell” Facebook page for work clothes, you can get some great deals! I’ve been able to sell a few things too :)

  3. I haven’t been to a thrift shop in ages — and I’m sorry to admit it! I always find great stuff.

    I primarily buy secondhand clothes from consignment stores or on kijiji. You’re right that most of the time they’re in new or near-new condition — sometimes they haven’t been worn at all, someone just bought it, left the tags on, then found it in the back of their closet and decided to donate it. The best!

    • gillian says:

      Ohh my friend used a consignment store to get rid of some of her very expensive designer jeans so I know there are some great finds, but I’ve never stepped in one! Kijiji is a great option too, I’ve been trying to sell some of my own clothes on there and gave away some furniture that I would have had to find a way to donate otherwise. So convenient!

  4. The problem with Vancouver thrift or consignment stores is that they’re not even that cheap! Glad to hear you got some goodies though! You should do a thrift shop haul :)

    • gillian says:

      Wow, even the thrift stores? It’s probably like Queen St. in Toronto (hipster district) where the stores have very nice stuff, but it costs more than a lot of retails stores. That’s too bad! And the next time I go I think I just might do a haul :)

  5. Good for you! I get t-shirts at the Thrift shop when I can too. I’ve found some pretty awesome shirts and some with tags still on them. Sometimes people buy clothes for guys and girls that are not their style so they end up at the thrift shop. That’s where we come in and make good use of it. I am picky about my jeans, sweaters, though as I buy them new but I did find an awesome leather jacket for $20… it’s hit or miss.

    • gillian says:

      $20 for a leather jacket is amazing. I am picky about my jeans too so I buy new, but if I found a pair that were up to snuff I would definitely buy them 2nd hand!

  6. I went to a thrift store a couple of weeks ago, just to have a look, as it had been nearly 10 years since last time I went thriftshopping. I was quite surprised, the store had a lot of my favourite brand of shoes (which is quite expensive), so I´ll definitely check it out another time, when I´m done with my shopping ban:-)

  7. forfundssake says:

    I did some thrifty shoppin this weekend. The looong aisles of the unknown articles of clothing were daunting but I found a couple deals. I didn’t really know how much until I met up with my sister and she made a comment on my nice button down shirt I was wearing being j.lindeberg
    Her: Must have been expensive!
    Me: 13 bucks! Vaaaalue Village!

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