Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Art of Shopping Smart (Six Tips for "Thrift" Conscious Singles)

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The Art of Shopping Smart (Six Tips for "Thrift" Conscious Singles)
by Jennifer Brown Banks

"One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure” There's a common misconception that folks that frequent thrift stores are either “fashion challenged,” cheap, or have cheesy standards.

Though these labels might hold true for some of the bargain hunters found here, many of us are actually quality conscious, fashionable, fabulous, law abiding people from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds, who just happen to be savvy about stretching our hard earned dollars.

For me, it's actually about more than saving a buck or two (really it is, mom).:-) Thrift store shopping is an adventure!

I love the fact that it's like “treasure hunting” for adults! I kid you not. You can find everything from missing parts to your no-longer manufactured vacuum cleaner, to antique china items, to hair weave, to beautiful handmade jewelry, to arts and crafts items, to hard to find classical music.

In fact, some of my most fashionable “finds” have been discovered while combing the isles of my local store. Like my stylish, leather Gloria Vanderbilt black vest, or my many pairs of designer jeans.

Yep, many consumers would be surprised to learn that thrift stores also carry designer wear, as well as new, never-used items everyday.
I also love the fact that thrift stores allow a great deal of individuality in your choices. You don't have to settle for carbon copy cuteness.

For example, you won't find 10 of the same pants in the same colors in a size 10 made by the same designer. Which means that you won't shell out a $150.00 bucks for some dress that you wear to an event only to find someone else dressed like your twin. (To make matters worse, she looks better)!

And did I mention that the shoppers are really friendly? That's another plus. You won't typically encounter the tugging and pushing and word wars that can result when females fight over scarce merchandise and sale deadlines. Instead, we're like a secret community. We see each other weekly, have similar mindsets and goals, and to be honest, we feel smarter than our high-end-store-shopping peers!

We're not incurring excessive credit card debt, or dealing with “shoppers' guilt”, or falling victim to the foolish belief that expensive always equals better .

Still, I'm happy to report that our “secret society” is expanding and gaining in popularity every day. Whether it's the economy or simply that shoppers are becoming more enlightened; folks are finding that thrift stores aren't your “granny's store” anymore.

But, be forewarned, there's an art to shopping smart, even at thrift stores. You can't approach this shopping excursion half-cocked! There's a science to it.

Here are some tips to follow for the best experience and for the best savings.
  • Remember that it's not where you shop, but how you shop. Look for quality merchandise in good condition. It's quite possible, in fact to find some of the name brands you love on the racks, if you look carefully and diligently.
  • Start early. Good gear goes fast here. Everything is on a first come basis. As they say, “the early bird catches the worm.”
  • Have a goal in mind and a budget. Just like shopping with credit cards, have an agenda. It's easy to get caught up in the cheap prices and the many treasures. So be mindful of your time, your spending cap, and your objectives.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. This is not the place for high heels, heavy purses, or tight restrictive clothing. You can make your fashion statement after you shop.
  • Take advantage of sale days. To get more bang for my buck, I often shop on Mondays, when prices at my local spot are 50% off the price tag. Thursdays also offer 25% savings.
  • Comparison shop. Know that not all thrift stores are created equally. Even in my own area, the type of stuff sold, the prices, and the quality of merchandise varies. Generally, the more upscale the neighborhood, the better the offerings.
Follow these six tips and you'll soon discover how thrift stores can increase your shopping options and your money mileage!


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