Thrifting for Dummies

A Modern Guide to GoodWills


Me thrifting hard at the GoodWill at Clemson

Over the last 20 years, thrift shopping has exponentially grown as a crucial component of modern cultural in the US for both soccer moms and edgy teens alike. This is the result of both economic necessity due to the recession and a recent pop culture influence that began with Mackelmore’s release of the iconic “ThriftShop” in 2012. Sense then, thrift stores have popped up across the country, as highly profitable enterprises. For those of you who are somehow foreign to the function of these epic treasure troves, the system is quite simple. It begins with donations by often upper class individuals who have little need for their current belongings. These donations then go through a sorting and screening process in the thrift store where they are sized often incorrectly and priced remarkably low. Next, the donations are rolled out onto the store floor where shoppers browse amongst them and make their purchases. While the system is simple, there are a few key tricks that will elevate your thrifting experiences and help you to be the best thrifter around. 

First of all, you must go thrifting as many times as possible. Often times, when  I am asked how I purchases so much of my clothing by thrifting, the answer is simple: I can be found in a GoodWill almost twice a week during the school year, and even more often in the summer. Whether I’m out and about with my mom, friends, or (let’s be honest) just by myself, I always make an effort to go into any thrift store that I know I’ll pass by.

Secondly, It is crucial to know when exactly to go thrifting in order to maximize your chances of finding some sweet threads. Weekends can be optimal for those of you who can be vicious in retail situations as these are the most crowded days to shop. On the other hand, for those who would rather a much more mellow experience, I suggest shopping on any given weeknight after six. The combination of the dim fluorescent bulbs and the low-fi music makes for an almost, dare I say, sensual, experience. 

Finally, it is of the utmost importance to know what the ringing of the bell means. Occasionally, as you shop, you may hear an abrasive “Ding Ding” shatter the otherwise constant conversation and shuffling of hangers. In layman’s terms, this sound means it’s go time. When that bell dings, it is to alert the collective body of shoppers of new product being rolled onto the sales floor. False dings include the bell being rung as a worker passes through the door empty handed or with nothing more than a basket of stinky books. However, if that sweet sound can be matched with the beautiful sight of a fresh rack of clothing, make sure to be the first lay your hands on those gnarly textiles.

 Thrifting can be a truly enlightening experience for those of you who have never found yourself prowling a GoodWill for the best deals. And for those of you who are already addicted to this glorious endeavor, I hope that we will one day cross paths in a thrift shop as we exchange a mutual glance of approval for each other as we both understand the true value behind poppin’ tags.