photo credit: recycleyourfashions.com

By Christina Sterbenz

With summer comes a spike in my obsession for reality television, specifically the Real Housewives of New Jersey. (Caroline Manzo, if you’re reading this, I love you and want to marry Albie.) Anyway, I sometimes hear the women on these shows bragging about the ‘priciness’ of their new shoes or handbag. Well, I’m a broke college kid, and want to announce to the world that I bought something for $12.99. To win this bargain battle with my girlfriends, I frequent thrift stores. Thrifting, however, is an acquired skill that takes patience, determination, and sometimes,, latex gloves. Not for the faint of heart, thrifting can quickly become an obsession. Allow me to guide you through the pitfalls and help you become a better thrifter.

1. Go often, and at odd times.

Visit new stores in different areas as often as you please, but stick with a few of your favorite spots for more serious escapades. If you only go here and there, the store may not have recently received new merchandise and other customers may have already scavenged the bargains. Also, do not go thrifting at 10 a.m. on a Saturday…unless you’re prepared to mud wrestle for your purchase. Everyone and their mother goes thrifting on early weekend mornings. Instead, take a trip at 3 p.m. on a weekday when work occupies most people’s time. You’ll run across fewer soccer moms with umpteen kids on the prowl for cheap shit and thus, save your sanity.

2. If you can’t try on anything, improvise.

Most thrifting facilities do not offer dressing rooms, and if they did, you might want to don a hazmat suit before trying on any clothing. For the record though, I’ve never heard of anyone contracting an STD from thrifting. Oh, but bed bugs are still a possibility. Anyway, to accommodate the lack of fitting rooms,bring a pair of your favorite jeans, dress, sweater, etc. to compare the sizing to your purchase.

3. Make a list.

Many people, myself included, fall victim to really low prices. You can easily become mesmerized by anything under 3 dollars or more than 50 percent off and make an impulse buy of something too small, the wrong color, or simply not your style. By making a list of items you might need or want for your wardrobe, you can avoid the pitfalls of thrifting. You may need to organize your closet first, so try visiting the Container Store’s website for tips and storage materials.

4. The sale doesn’t stop at clothes.

Many thrifters forget that consignment shops and other second-hand stores don’t just sell clothing. Even the Salvation Army has a section for dishes, books, and even household decorations like paintings. If you need plates, bowls and the suchlike for your apartment next year—which will most likely end up in pieces—visit your local thrift store. If you plan to live on South Campus, you could even find some hip, vintage throw pillows for those awful blue couches or a sick tapestry to add some color to your walls.

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