Monday, February 20, 2012

Thrift Store Personality

One thing to keep in mind when thrifting is that each store has its own personality.  With a little research, you can determine what that personality is and use it to your advantage when shopping. 

1.  Know the area.
To know the personality of a thrift store, you need to know the area in which it's located, i.e. where the donations most likely come from.  I live in an area with four cities that basically run together, but each city has its own unique feel.  I live in the "college" town, so the thrift stores and resale shops have more trendy items and mall brands.  The two cities farthest north have a larger concentration of wealthy people, so you are more likely to find a $660 Theory suit for $20 at that Goodwill (which I did by the way).  This doesn't just apply to cities but also to different neighborhoods within one city, which brings me to point two...

2.  Know the donors. 
This may take a bit more research, but you can determine who generally donates to each store.  This is based on a variety of factors such as where the store is located and what it benefits.  In our city we have stores that benefit the hospital, a women's shelter, a program for at-risk children, two national organizations, plus several for-profit resale shops.

Take The Attic for example.  It benefits the local hospital.  It is run by the little old ladies in the hospital auxiliary. I have a feeling that most of the donors are other little old ladies in the auxiliary.  At this particular store, I am more likely to vintage, such as the dress below, as well as this blazer.    

3.  Know the merchandize.
You can make all the assumption you want about a store based on its location or beneficiary, but you really won't get a true picture of a store's personality without digging in.  It's going to take more than one trip, but after a few visits an observant shopper should have an idea of what they will most likely find.  I know which store has the most vintage (see above), which store has the most high-end brands, and which has the widest variety.

Knowing the personality of my local thrift stores helps me know what to expect when I go in.  It also focuses my shopping, since I know what types of items have a higher probability of being on the racks.  It can also help when I'm looking for a specific item.  Lately I've been searching for a vintage red wool pencil skirt.  For a day of shopping, I would focus my search to stores with more vintage (such as The Attic) and stores with a wide variety (such as Goodwill).  If I'm looking for a more trendy item, such as red skinny jeans, I look at the big stores with variety as well as the resale shops where the college kids sale their items.

Do you find that thrift stores in your area have a certain personality?  Does it affect the way you shop?  What is your experience with thrift store personality?


Blazer - Ann Taylor, Thrifted
Dress - Vintage, Thrifted
Belt - Vintage, Goodwill
Heels - Gianni Bini, Dillard's

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