Friday, August 17

The How of Thrifting

I'm convinced just about anyone can benefit from thrifting/shopping second hand and if I can do it with six kiddos, so can you.

~First, find out what thrift stores are in your area.  You can use google or the yellow pages.
Visit the thrift stores and take note of their hours and ask about sales.  Our local Salvation Army shops have different colored tags on sale each day and Wednesday every color tag except for one is half off.  You may find "chain" shops like Goodwill in your area but there will probably be others run by smaller agencies or churches.  If you have friends who shop second hand, ask them where their favorite shops are and what tips they have for you.  I get asked all the time about shopping second hand because I unashamedly love it.

~Begin scanning craigslist and the classifieds for garage sales, noting ones that have for sale what you are looking for.  For example, I shop in the summer for the next season's clothing for our kiddos.  A yard sale advertising boys clothing in a size ahead of what they are wearing now will catch my attention and is most likely worth a visit.  If you're in need of a piece of furniture, patience is the best rule to live by.  Stop by the thrift stores as often as possible to see what has come in or check craigslist every. single. day.  I searched for a leather sofa in a certain price range in a limited number of acceptable colors and styles every day for months.  When ours came up for sale but wasn't in my price range, I emailed the owner and politely told them I was interested in their lovely sofa but had only budgeted $600 for a used one.  A week or so later the owners emailed me back saying they had to get it moved since they were moving into a smaller place and it wouldn't fit and they'd gladly take $600 for it. 

~Keep a list in your wallet of current needs as far as clothing for your children or yourself and a list of what they need and sizes for what they need for the coming season.  I go through the bins in our attic once or twice a year, taking note of which girl's skirt needs a matching top and jot down the needed color, size and so on.

~In crowded shops that can be overwhelming, learn to shop by spying quality fabrics or colors that you already know compliment your skin and hair.  I've had a lot of fun lately identifying the colors that work well with my skin tone.  You can google or youtube "personal color analysis" to find out for yourself what colors naturally compliment you.  In a crowded thrift store where nothing is organized by size (only color) I can skip entire sections because I know they aren't worth going through.

Logistical tips for shopping with many kids:

1.Have books on CD for listening to on the way or as your drive around to garage sales.  Pack non-crumbly snacks if you are going to be out more than an hour.

2. For large thrift store shopping where there are a lot of distractions and temptations to touch or run, I bring along organic lollipops and the kids know that halfway through the store, with appropriate behaviour, they can have one.

3. If possible, take turns or take along an older child or friend to sit with your kids in the vehicle.  We have one older boy child and one older girl child, so if I can park right in front of the house at a garage sale, we take turns with the boys getting out and then the girls getting out at alternating sales.  When everyone was little, we all got out and the kids just learned in turn what was/was not appropriate behaviour when visiting a garage sale.

4. Every once in a while, allot your kids a certain amount of cash to spend at the thrift stores.  On Wednesday when we stopped by a thrift shop, I told each of the older kids they had $3 to spend on something for fall/winter.  The only condition was it had to be clean, stain free and meet my approval.  This is a great way to help our kiddos think about how money is being spent and getting the most for their cash.  I appreciate seeing them look at items with a critical eye, thinking about its condition, what they have to wear with it or how much use they would get from it.

Any other helpful tips to include?


anya* said...

I laughed out loud at #2! I always let my children go to the front of the store we frequent, where there is a bin of lollipops for .20, letting them each pick one out at the beginning of our shopping trip. It keeps them quiet(er!) and happy.
Good idea about waiting half way through, for the lollipops though! I always promise them a turn down the toy aisle for good behavior. They know not to expect mom to buy them something there, but I do sometimes purchase (new) puzzles, many craft kits and the occasionally high quality toy that is a real treat to find for .69!

~ Shannon said...

I've really enjoyed both of your thrifting posts, Hannah! I read an article recently on just how much of the clothing donated to thrift stores (particularly places like Goodwill) ends up in rag factories, thrown away, or shipped overseas to be sold in Africa -- which makes me feel even better when I'm buying something used! I'm keeping that garment out of the rag bin now, and by buying used, I'm keeping a "brand new" item out of the thrift shop later.

I especially appreciated your ideas for thrift shopping with littles. I just have a toddler right now, but with another one on the way, I know it will soon become more challenging.

As for tips --

I'm learning to buy ONLY what I need or what will really go with what I already own. At one point as a teenager, I had a ridiculous amount of skirts, tops, etc. I'd purchased them all at bargain prices, but had more than I could really wear. I like the idea of keeping a list in my purse (I also have a Pinterest board to keep track of what I want in my closet).

2. Keep an eye out for garments that can be repurposed. Men's shirts can be turned into baby dresses, or even into feminine women's blouses (lots of tutorials online!). I've even seen sweater makeovers, though I'm not sure I'm up for that yet! Garments can also be harvested for sewing supplies like lace and buttons.

Speaking of thrift stores, I think I'll visit my favorite local one today! Thanks again for the encouraging posts!


Me said...

Anya, you have a brilliant thrift store - selling lollipops!

Shannon, you are spot on - I've picked out dresses many sizes too large for me because I realized how much beautiful fabric it had. I've bought shrunken wool sweaters to make into longies for my babies, which are easy to make using an existing pair of baby pants as a pattern. And sheets and tablecloths! The girls and I have several Von-Trapp-ish clothing items made from sheets and tablecloths. Circle tablecloths are a cinch to make into skirts. There is so much good about thrifting, isn't there? :)

Valerie said...

Great post Hannah.
We love Thrifting! I not only enjoy it(probably a little too much), but it saves us a ton of money.
Note that sometimes you can even find brand new items with tags still on them. We recently found a brand new box of legos for $3, that had never been opened.

One thing I suggest is thinking outside the box. Think of other uses for everyday items. I have gotten top sheets that I have turned into quilt backings or cut pieces from to make quilt tops. Skirts that I have turned into purses or bags. Take fabric placemats cut open the seam and stuff them, resew and you have a new pillow. The possibilities are endless.

Amanda said...

A great topic. And much great advice for taking the children along.

Everything we own comes second hand.

We also have two yard sales each year {spring and fall} and with the money we make from this, we are mostly able to purchase all we need. In addition to family giving too.

I've learned too what Shannon learned. To only buy what our family really needs.

And I'll add, for the time being. We've never done without in doing this because I think that God always provides what we need.

Kate @ Bliss and That said...

Just wanted to let you know that I took lollipops with me this last week thrifting thanks to your tip, and it worked like a charm! It's always been hard to keep the toddler happy in his stroller, but now he's a sticky, happy mess! :0