2011-03-26

Thrift Day. Cheaper is Gooder.

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(Picture taken by the multi-talented Merl (jewelry, photos, websites... what can't you do?)).

You know how to get yourself a long-sleeved, silk blend dress for free? Go thrift shopping with a friend, tell her that this dress will look so good on her and convince her to buy it. Wait a year for said dress to show up in a box of swap clothing circulating around the friends, take the dress and laugh wickedly. I did put a little effort in because all the hems had come undone and I moved the closures for a better fit but besides that effort, I essentially scammed a dress out of a friend. Go me!

If you are unwilling to build your closet on the backs of friends there are ways to get clothing in cost efficient manner. Some say cost efficient, some say cheap.

The word cheap is a funny thing. I grew up in a Dutch Canadian community and I think in many ways 'cheap' was used as an insult. Many of our parents or grandparents immigrated to Canada and had very little, so being very careful with money was survival tactic. It became one of the character traits associated with being a Dutch immigrant but now I feel like we are working very hard to avoid the labelling given to our forefathers. In my opinion, if you pay your portion of a joint dinner bill but don't factor in the tip or the taxes, you are a jerk (seriously, if you do this we can't be friends, sorry) but if you clip coupons for those diapers and go to garage sales to decorate your house, you are a smarty.

In and of itself, thrifting is a money conscious activity. Yet your bill can accumulate quickly... maybe Kyla can find things at her local Goodwill for $0.30 but most places run considerably higher than that. And it's not a secret that thrift prices are creeping up.... grrrrrr. Hence, it is important to take advantage of every deal that may come your way as you shop your feelings in the thrift store.

1. Brave the crowds at the 50% off days. Almost every thrift shop has 50% off days (or even better, in Texas we found one that had March as their 50% month. I need a green card.) and while the craziness of the day may turn you away, it's worth putting up with the hassle. It's 50% off everything!!!! Wear comfy, easily layered clothing (so you can try stuff on in front of any available mirror space and not wait in line for the change room) and if at all possible, arrive at opening time. If you are a conservative thrift shopper, now is the time to take some chances and try some new styles. I admit, every time I have woken up early to be at the thrift store for its 50% off day, I have never had the epic success I have had other days. However... two of my favourite dresses have come from these sales...

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2. Take advantage of any promotions offered by your favourite thrift stores. Every thrift store has their own set of promotions. Some stores sell coupon calendars, others offer student and senior discounts (one for me and one for Matt), and some will give you 20% off your next purchase if you drop off your grandmother's heirlooms. OK, don't do that. Or do that and message me promptly afterwards so I can buy them.
I shop at Talize a lot and I always donate a bag of clothing every time I go (yes, in a fit of organization, I made several good sized donation bags and left them in the front closet), so I always get a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase. I am also enrolled in night school so I flash my student discount card at every opportunity. Unless, there is a 50% sale, my student card gets me 10% off everything and it can be used with other promotions.
You need to check out any discounts offered at your favourite thrift stores and take advantage of them!

3. Just ask for it! I have no idea who opened my eyes to the concept that it is OK to ask for a discount at the thrift store. I may have to credit Matt because what thrifting is to me, is what bargaining is to him. It is important check over any of your picks for stains, holes or missing buttons. If the issue can be fixed (without much effort... be realistic about this or you end up with a closet full of stuff to fix like...ahem... me) then most stores will offer a percantage off the price. But most importantly, ask for a discount on the bigger ticket items. Sometimes, I will find something that has been priced high for good reason but I still feel uncomfortable paying that much at a thrift store. In that case, I will politely ask if there is any budging on the price. I don't haggle or hassle, I just say that I really like the item but I am not ready to pay that much. And that's just the truth.

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I found this Roots purse in the Talize showcase for $35. For a vintage, leather Roots purse, it is not an unfair price but it's hard to pay that much at Talize. I worked at Roots when I was in University and I love that it is a Canadian brand so I knew that purse wanted to come home with me. I just asked the lady if there was anything she could do about the price. The purse had just been put on the floor but she ended up giving it to me for $30 plus my usual discounts (coupons and student discount). Was it still more expensive than I usually pay? Yes, but I don't usually find vintage Roots at the thrift store. You might not get any discount but it is always worth asking.

(And I apologize that I have been on Thrift Thursday hiatus. When it gets busy, they are the first posts to go because they take up a lot of brain power (it's the serious talk that makes it take a lot of time). I was all set to go for this week when we got socked with a major snow storm that took my sleep and your Thrift Thursday. But I am back in the game... I just need to find a way to claim my thrifting when I do my taxes. It's all research baby!)

28 comments :

briannelee said...

Ah, that purse. Amazing! I think $30 was an amazing deal!

Kelly said...

That purse is beautiful and definitely worth the $30. I also love the dresses that you picked up. I'm jealous of your great thrift-finds!

Kelly
Enterkelly.blogspot.com

Terri said...

I was thinking about this series of posts of yours last night and found myself wondering if you could do one on shopping white blouses. I think that is the most difficult clothing item to shop at thrifts.

those tricks said...

Most of our thrift stores in Dallas have signs reading "Salespeople may not alter prices" and "Anything without a price tag cannot be priced on the floor." I suppose to keep people from taking off price tags then negotiating the price.
:/
I tried once with an unpriced blanket a friend needed for an art project and they wouldn't budge on this policy and let us buy it. boo!

I have had a guy at the register finish stamping up my "Get 20 punches, get $10 off card."
Then he said "Happy New Year."

Peta said...

That bag is gorgeous!

And I think I speak for all Australians when I say - Roots is a hilarious name.

Renee said...

ahh, you are so right about asking for discounts! but.. as an american with little experience in the world of bargaining, i often chicken out and pay what they ask!

beautiful purse, by the way!

My Heart Blogged said...

I'm an avid thrifter, and these were great tips. I only shop on half off days because I'm cheap. I still find great stuff, and save a ton of money doing it.
My Heart Blogged

Anonymous said...

you are the best! What are some of your favourite thirft stores to shop at?

Michelle's Style File said...

Great post and amazing finds!!

x
Michelle
www.michellesstylefile.blogspot.com

Kinsey said...

Good tips, I need to get back into thrifting!

Kholá said...

Love this bag. I would have paid $30 for this as I know Roots 'roots' and enjoy the brand.

www.kholaskloset.blogspot.com

God's Favorite Shoes! said...

You make me laugh! I was taking applications for new friends who know how to thrift...let me know when you got yours in the mail. (and check with neighbor who steals yoru magazines if you don't receive your app in a week:)

SIENA.STYLE said...

the bag is great!!kiss from Prague

J'Anns Boutique said...

That purse is great! I think I need to scout some new thrift stores, the usuals are becoming a bit of a bore :-(

Confessions of a Purse-a-holic

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

i'd like you to get your bum to illinois and take me thrifting. i think i'm decent at thrifting but then i read posts like these and feel like a ninny for not asking for discounts or even knowing if there is a 50% off day.
have you considered university lectures...along the lines of Thrifting 101? i bet it would be a popular course...

Julia said...

Girl, you know I love me some thrift -- what a great post. And that short dress against the wall photo? Uh....SEXY. You are. Tremendous!

xo

Huda said...

I'm embarrassed to admit, but I never knew about Talize and I grew up near one of their locations. Thanks a lot for these tips, I rarely if ever thrift shop, more like vintage shop. And I so agree how many of these 2nd hand stores prices are going up. Kensington Market is one such location, where similar pieces you can find @ salvation army for less than $10 costs closer to $20+.

Fifth Sparrow said...

Every time I read your blog it makes me miss thrifting :( and reminds me that I have to get off my butt and start exploring all the new thrift shops out here in Van (I'm sure there are many... but I'm a suck and miss my local MCC back in MB!) That gorgeous Roots purse just might have given me the final push, thanks Yen!

Ps. just read your conference post, looks like it was so fun (a PEDI CAB!!!!) and awesome to meet up with like minded people.
p.p.s I agree, nom nom nom makes me inappropriately pissed off at the writer... glad I'm not the only one!

Catherine *The Spring* said...

Brilliant post! The whole 'you only get what you ask for' concept works in all aspects of life, not just thrift-store discounts... More women should embrace the idea that it's ok to ask directly for what they want! Of course sometimes the best things in life come to us through luck, like that amazing vintage Roots purse! Love your blog!
- Catherine at The Spring

Fashion Therapist said...

Great tips! Makes me want to go thrifting this weekend.

Jazzy E (hivennn) said...

Amazing. x hivennn p.s enter my giveaway?

nisara.jiwani said...

I really enjoyed your post...love how you were able ot get the dress back through a clothes swap : )

And excellent tips for thrift shopping. I had no idea that Thrift stores had 50% off days. and I worked at rotts back in the day too ....many, many, moons ago...

kelsey said...

I am so impressed. I really have not done any thrifting in the past 5 years. I am going tonight, though! Thanks for the great info.

Pink said...

I recently discovered a Talize in my area and love it! Didn't know they give you a $5 coupon for donations though, I just spent $30 there yesterday.
Last night they had a crazy promotion where every time the Canucks (Vancouver hockey team) scored you could pick any item at 50% off. They scored 4 times! That was the first time in my life I cared what the score was in a sports game :)

marn said...

It's all about the discount!
You look fabulous!

http://marnerella.wordpress.com

GorJess Fashion For Less said...

Oh, you do this every Thursday!? I can't wait to read these! Good tips. I intend to try these.

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