Buying items at thrift and consignment stores is good for the environment and your wallet. Another inexpensive source of clothing could be some of the neighborhood groups, Facebook marketplace and free cycle groups that have been set up to share items no longer wanted. There are even online used clothing sites such as Thred Up and Poshmark where you can buy used items or items from others closets.  A site called The Real Real calls itself a luxury consignment sales shop.

Being a beneficiary of someone else’s buying mistakes can save you real money.  On a recent shopping trip I made to the local Salvation Army on 4th Ave in Seattle I found some great buys.

The outfit on the left is made up of an Eddie Bauer goose down vest $7.50 , Acrylic/wool blend green sweater $4. The scarf is one my mother knit for me and the shoes and jeans are a thrift store find from a while ago.

The berry colored cardigan on the right was $4. The navy knit jacket in the  middle was from another thrift shopping trip and was  a splurge for me at $15.

You don’t save time shopping this way and you may not find what is on your list without making several trips. Here are my tips for Goodwill and Consignment shopping.

  • Go with a list. It will save you time and you will avoid those same frivolous purchases you make at real stores.
  • Go prepared to easily try things on without a dressing room if need be. This means slip on shoes, leggings and a camisole.
  • Know what your colors and styles are so you don’t get discouraged. Since these stores are filled with items from many different brands a size 10 or 14 is not necessarily a size 10 or 14 – if you know what I mean. Limiting yourself to only try on silhouettes and colors that you know should be a flattering choice for you will save time.
  • This can also be the place to pick up something you aren’t sure about. It is an inexpensive try. Like the sequin jacket in the middle – would I really wear it? Fortunately I love it.
  • Get a cart. Everything that fits and is the right color should be taken to a window usually in the front of the store where you can hold them up and closely inspect for rips, tears, pilling and stains. An item that looks worn out is not a good addition to your wardrobe.
  • Ask about the return policy. In spite of following all the rules you may get home and find your great deal is not as great as you might have hoped. Our local Salvation Army and Goodwill currently offer a 7 day exchange for store credit if the tags are still on.
  • Read the labels to make sure you aren’t going to have to spend a fortune on dry cleaning.
  • Be prepared to run everything through the wash once you get home.
  • Remember to take the price tag off (especially shoes). I once walked into a meeting and fortunately a fellow thrifter pointed out the tag before I took the stage. 
  • HAVE FUN and allow yourself time.

People ask me “Aren’t you worried about someone seeing you in their stuff they gave away?” My answer is no. Everything that is manufactured is made in multiple units. This means there are already multiples of whatever you buy running around with someone else wearing them. There is no way for a person who donated an item to know if this is what they gave or not. 

I would be happy to make a Goodwill or consignment store run with you after we meet to sort our your style and needs. If you have the patience it can be an amazing source of unique finds.

What is the best thing you have found this way?