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JCI Guide to Thrift Shopping

06
01.2017

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Thrift shopping is a great way to find unique pieces and save some money. It can be overwhelming, since second hand shopping often involves sifting through a lot of clothing. It’s worth it to find that perfect piece no one else at school will have! Read on for our best tips on how to shop better, get the best quality, save the planet and stay under budget by thrift shopping.

Take your time

You’ll 100% get frustrated thrift shopping if you’re in a rush. The clothes will be somewhat organized by gender, size and type but you’re gonna have to do a lot of searching to find the hidden gems. So grab some friends and make an afternoon of it!

Shop where you normally wouldn’t  

If you’re a female, check through the sweaters in the Men’s section. Pettite? Look at Kid’s jackets in XL. There might be something great hiding where you least expect it and you’ll never find it if you don’t look. Besides, thrift stores aren’t known to be the most organized places on Earth so you might find something you love out of place anyways.

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Try everything on

Since there is every brand, era and style of clothing under the sun at a thrift store, you can’t just assume anything is going to fit. Wait in that fitting room line to be sure! Since everything is a one-off, if you leave it on the rack and someone else scoops it up there’s no going back.

Trying something on also helps you see flaws that you could have missed on the rack. Speaking of which…

Check for flaws

Even that pair of shoes that retails for $400 new and is only marked at $19.99 aren’t a deal if they are in unwearable and unrepairable condition. Check everything you want to buy for holes, stains, defects or other issues before paying. mens-button-down-into-off-the-shoulder-top

Look on the “go back” racks

You’ll find rolling racks throughout the store and by the fitting rooms  of items that have been tried on by other customers. You know what they say about one man’s trash? It’s true – and you can even check these a couple of times throughout your visit if you’re not having luck elsewhere.

Be open to what comes your way

Unlike a typical shopping spree where you might go in looking for an item you saw online, you never know what you’re going to get at a second hand store. Go in with an idea of a few things to look for, but be open to other possibilities depending on what you find.

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Pay attention to the price

Some items are better deals than others, and pricing isn’ always consistent. Current name brand pieces can be overpriced, so double check that it’s worth it. Even items from bargain fashion chains like H&M or Forever 21 might be on par with their original retail price, so keep that in mind.

Checking the tags, knowing how to spot a fake, or googling will help you out here. Thrift store employees generally price the donations that come in, and sometimes designer or luxury items can fly under the radar due to the sheer volume of items they receive daily. You’ve probably all heard of someone finding a real designer piece for a bargain at a second hand store – that person could be you!

Check the return policy

Value Village actually lets you exchange items after purchase. Often jewellery will be final sale, but for clothing you might be able to bring it back. Know the rules wherever you shop to avoid disappointment.

Do your laundry

You never know if the clothing on the racks has been washed before donation. Best to take care of it yourself once you get home!

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If you have any other tips to add let us know in the comments! Happy thrifting.


Love fashion and want to make it your career?  JCI Institute Vancouver’s Fashion Business & Creative Arts Diploma Program provide students with a comprehensive overview of the fashion industry, combining creative and business elements. This diverse approach gives our fashion school grads a distinct advantage both in knowledge and skill. Prepare for many jobs in the fashion industry, including becoming a fashion buyer, fashion stylist, or for work in fashion merchandising.

If becoming a fashion designer is more your speed, choose our Core Fashion Program. This course at our fashion design institute will give you all the skills you need to be a fashion designer. Choose between our fashion programs to find the best fit for you!

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