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March 15, 2007


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I don't shop in second hand stores because I like the experience of shopping, it's a great pastime for me even if I buy nothing and just browse. But the experience of shopping at a second hand store just plain sucks. There is no organization, it's cluttered and you have to dig through mismatched items to find anything good. There's no consistency in the types of items/colours/styles that are carried. It's aesthetically displeasing to shop there, and that's why I don't do it. Shopping is supposed to be fun!

That said, if I hated shopping in general and only did it out of necessity, then I would totally shop at consignment stores; I have nothing against them in principle. In fact I'm currently on a weight loss mission and intend to buy all my "in between sizes" clothing at consignment stores because I can't stomach paying full retail prices for clothes that will only fit me for a few weeks or months. But normally I accept the trade-off of paying higher prices for a pleasant shopping experience and shopping in branded stores where I know what to expect from the products.

Great question! I'm now a devotee of thrift stores, but I haven't always been. Dusty dirty stores just aren't appealing - and if you're a thrift store shopper, you've seen your share of places like this. But new shoppers have to realize that most stores, especially national chains like Goodwill, are clean, well-lit and somewhat organized. Not very different than discount stores like Ross or Marshall's. Most even have dressing rooms by now! Just get over your hesitation and give it a try. And remember, even when you buy something new in a store, it may have been tried on before - rendering it almost the same as used clothing if you think about it.

Another reason that I never used to shop thrift stores is because I figured I wouldn't find clothing in my size - I'm a plus-size woman. Wrong! BBWs get rid of their clothing, too, you may just have to look a bit harder for it. It's worth the extra time looking to save that $40 you would have spent at a "specialty" store on the same item.

I've sold my clothes (some really new clothes!) at consignment stores, but I don't like to shop there.

I just don't like the idea of wearing clothes some stranger wore before me. Maybe I'm just spoiled, I don't know. But it's a deep aversion with me. Nor do I want to go in the store and smell the used-clothes store smell (I HATE the smell of a used clothing store), or spend time rifling through the racks, or take it home only to find some flaw I missed at the store.

I don't enjoy shopping, though. I usually shop at a couple of stores online and end up returning half of it (so taking a hit on postage). I do try to limit myself to things on sale.

Not that my wardrobe is anything to get excited about just because it's bought new. My wardrobe is pretty sad actually -- and it's only getting sadder since I've bought virtually nothing for over a year. It's a good thing I have a job where I can wear nice jeans and nice tshirts every day -- and my work-quality tshirts are starting to show some wear.


I do shop at second-hand stores every now and then, but not regularly. For one thing, I like to be stylish, and while there are some great unique finds at second-hand shops, the flip side of this is that almost everything there is at least a few seasons old. Much of it is hopelessly out of style, and even the current stuff may be from stores I wouldn't shop at to begin with--I mean, I'm 28 and not ready to wear Talbots or Eileen Fisher yet. So there's a lot of sifting that needs to be done. Then, if you find something that's your style and happens to fit, you still have to inspect it VERY carefully for holes and stains. It's time-consuming!

so there is also another cost saver in your post: buy a sewing machine and learn how to sew. hemming pants, fixing zippers, etc will more than make up the cost of a sewing machine. get a basic machine that can sew threw denim. you don't need 100 function sewing machine.

I got a suit jacket at a goodwill once that has served me well. I wore it again recently for the first time in a couple years, though, and my wife laughed at me. She said it was something a 50 year old would wear because it is double breasted.

Just because you can get a good deal at a second hand shop doesn't mean that your fashion sense improves any, I guess. I still like it, though, even if it isn't the same shade as any of my pants anymore.

I'm tall, so I have a hard time finding clothes that fit even at retail stores. I've looked at consignment shops a few times, but I don't usually feel like pawing through hundreds of pairs of pants to find one pair that might fit and be long enough. It's the same reason I don't often go to the discount stores like Marshall's/TJ Maxx anymore - it's so unlikely that I'll find something that truly fits, it's not worth the effort.

I'm a 45 year old woman who has been shopping in thrift stores since High School. My mother was horrified that I liked Goodwill better than Macy's, but I didn't care. I can afford Saks now, but rarely, if ever, step foot in there. I'm a professional with a great deal of client contact in billion-dollar industries. 90% of my closet came from second hand stores. I live in a cool urban city, so there's a lot of options. I wear a cashmere Versace coat ($90); Tahari pants ($8); Italian shoes, silk shirts, vintage blouses, you name it. I laugh when my friends admire my clothing because I want to say, "This black and white cashmere sweater was in the dollar bin at ThriftTown." You start to get very good at spotting the right fabrics, lengths, styles and brands. When I'm through with them, they go back to Goodwill for the writeoff!

I find that most people have a balance for frugality. There are stores like TJ Maxx near me that sell things pretty cheap and they are always new. Could I save a more at a used show? Of course I could.

What would that cost me though? Finding something that's not worn down that's in the right style and size sounds difficult. Given that things can be disorderly the difficulty is multiplied by 100. I believe I would have to visit 4 stores to find one piece of acceptable clothing. Avoiding that annoyance and saving that time - probably a whole day on the weekend - is worth quite a bit to me.

And to finish it off, I definitely have a bit of an "ick factor" when I think about wearing strangers' clothes. How far away is that from using a used toothbrush :-)? Where do you draw the line?

I can't really see where Laura gets the idea that people who don't like shopping would go to thrift stores...thrift stores, after all, amplify a hundredfold all the WORST things about B&M shopping.

I mean, if digging through piles of other people's cast-off junk is something you count as "kind of fun to do", then by all means have at it...I'd never think of criticizing a stranger's taste in recreation. But if I were to decide to visit a thrift store, it'd mean basically losing a day of my life to the project...and since the experience would be not merely not enjoyable but so frustrating that upon departure I'd probably be ready to throw things at people, it just isn't worth it.

here is South Africa the clothing market is now dorminated by cheap Chinese Clothing. The nice trendy are the second hand ones coming from Europe. I love the clothes good quality and popular brands at reasonable prices. My friends are still puzzled about my source of clothing. Keep them coming this way. I like them and cant stop buying them. might go into business too.

I found this post via your 10 Most Hated Tips post, and I'm surprised to see buying used clothing described as something few people do. Maybe I hang out with an overly frugal crowd?

Anyway, on my blog I do reviews of thrift and consignment stores, so I'm usually preaching to the choir. I'm glad you wrote this post because I can see people's objections to buying secondhand in the comments. This gives me a better idea of what others might be looking for in a resale shopping experience.

Wearin used clothes is gross.

I sometimes buy from thrift stores, but not often because I really don't enjoy shopping much, and needle-in-the-haystack shopping even less. It seems that a person would have to do it often to get the most out of it. Same thing for garage sales. I am much more likely to buy used of almost anything else but clothing. Love craigslist!

I'll hit second hand store once in a great while, but usually I find them overpriced. I can usually get brand new, even sometimes namebrand clothes at regular stores by hitting the sales just right for the same price the consignment stores are selling them. One thing I do love is when the Goodwill by our house has discontinued Target stuff at prices you can't beat.

Here's the best way to get great used clothes. Find someone who's a clothes guru with great style and tell them you're interested in purchasing their clothes when they're sick of them. In my case, I'm lucky to have a sister who is close to being a shopaholic. She totally changes out her wardrobe like every six months or so and passes the clothes on to me. Also, my cousin, who has kids just a little bit older than mine, lets me have first dibs on their outgrown clothes before she puts them in her garage sale. I pay her what she thinks she would've gotten for them in the sale. She's thankful for an easy opportunity to get rid of her "junk", and I'm thankful for all the time and money it saves me.

I work at a thrift store. :) We do charity work, so we don't have the money to replace the flooring or the lights, or even repaint the walls. :(

We do try to keep the racks organized and neat, though shoppers hide things for later or just put things back 'wherever.' I do a LOT of reorganizing during the day.

I will say that there are some amazing deals. One lady bought a Ralph Lauren Polo purse that originally sold at Macy's for $300 + $400 for the strap. Her price? $10.99

I would plan to spend a few hours if looking for clothes, and always walk through the furniture section if you are looking for anything in that area. Our lamps come from thrift stores; college kids get rid of them after the year is over rather than take them home. Same with a lot of the furniture.

I don't even shop for used clothes, I get them from friends or clothes swaps. My town of Austin has a free clothes swap on the East side in a park every month. Last time I was there, I dropped off a bag of clothing that I had gotten in a similar fashion that did not fit, and got four "new" sweaters in return. Two were from Express, one from Banana Republic, and one was even a Tocca cashmere sweater. If there isn't a swap in my area, I create one and invite everyone I know to my house. Sure, it costs me a little bit of money to buy wine for every one but I usually gain 10-20 items of clothing (plus I ask them too bring wine too)

Shirts/Sweaters/skirts/jackets are always from these kinds of shopping excursions. Jeans, however, I find impossible not to spend a fortune on (i'm a very hard to find size and have never had any luck at Goodwill).

It's not possible to find fashionable clothes at thrift shops?????? You need to see my teenage daughter. Kids at her school are JEALOUS big time of the outfits she wears. Almost all of it was purchased at the Salvation Army thrift store. She has added a few (and I do mean a FEW) pieces she has found on clearance at various stores using birthday and Christmas money, but other than that, this kid's extensive fashionable wardrobe has probably cost less than $200.

I buy clothes for her kid sister there because she's growing so fast it would be ridiculous to buy new.

I buy my clothes there because I have a tendency to ruin my clothes fairly quickly. I have a knack for shrinking, staining, tearing, permanently wrinkling clothes, etc. The clothes from Salvation Army are already pre shrunk, and cheap enough that ruining one of them is only a minor downer.

I shop at thrift stores constantly. In fact, I rarely go to the mall anymore. This is not because I cannot afford regular stores, but this is all about saving money. I am 29 years old and quite the fashionista, and I get great, cheap clothing at the local consignment store. For people who think the clothing smells, do what i do: WASH IT! The key to finding a good store, is finding one in an upper-mid class to affluent. In fact, lots of the clothes i buy still have the tags on them. People should really give thrift shopping a chance, especially in this economy.

On its surface, shopping for clothes at a thrift store seems like a good idea. The trouble for me is that I'm on the low end of plus size, and yet when I go to Goodwill, I'm confronted by racks and racks of single digit clothing that won't fit (I guess there are more people getting rid of their "skinny" clothes than people dropping off clothes that are too big). When I go to big box stores, like Ross, I'm more likely to find clothes in my size, and they are the same price as what I'd pay at my local Goodwill. If prices were more competitive and Goodwill actually carried size 10 and 12 items, I would actually use it to build my wardrobe (although luckily I have managed to find other nice items there, like pretty sets of dishes). I don't understand people who eschew thrift stores because of cleanliness issues. Afraid of wearing someone else's used clothes? That's why we have these lovely inventions called washing machines.

I love thrift stores (and used cars and second hand pretty much everything), but have learned to be a smart shopper. Cheaper is not always better and quality can be an issue with everything from clothes to furniture (cars being a given). When looking for an item I do my rounds of my several favorite thrift/consignment shops depending on what I am looking for. I also LOVE to go to the shops when I am out of town in a nice area. When looking for clothing the key is that you are in a decent area. I have found that frequently those who live near the consignment store are the same folks who donate there and nicer clothing items may be far and few between in some shops.

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