Confessions of a thrift-store shopper
A thrifty shopper is someone who stretches a dollar by hunting down great deals without compromising on quality, design or craftsmanship.
A cheapskate, in my opinion, is fixated on price — and only price — and will buy even the most poorly made product to save a few bucks.
That’s the beauty of second-hand stores. They can satisfy both types of shoppers by offering top-brand clothing, footwear and housewares at bargain-basement prices.
My love affair with thrift shops started as a necessity when I was a cash-strapped teen with a penchant for shoes and funky fashion. One of my favourite haunts was the now defunct Army Surplus on Industrial Avenue where I bought cargo pants, walking shorts, military jackets and button-up sweaters in every possible shade of khaki.
As a mother of four boys, buying second-hand clothes has just made practical sense, especially during the rough-and-tumble years when grass stains and ripped knees defined my sons’ style.
I could never rationalize spending big dollars on expensive jeans and sweatshirts for my brood, when in all likelihood, they’d outgrow them in months.
Buying second-hand toys, puzzles and books was also economical because I could buy more for less. The GT Racers I picked up for $15 at Saint Vincent de Paul remain one of my biggest coups.
I’m still a regular at Goodwill and Value Village because I love the thrill of the hunt. It takes the same determination, patience and time as digging through the jammed racks at Winners except the clothes are used and cost a fraction of the original retail price.
As a bonus, you’re helping a variety of charities while recycling and saving money. It’s a win-win-win.
Yet there are many people — friends included — who think that clothes sold at second-hand stores are smelly, worn or outdated. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a thrift shop, mostly out of fear that one of their friends or neighbours would see them. To that I say, “Your loss.”
Over the years, I have found incredible deals on skirts, blazers, costume jewelry and even shoes from top designers including Jones New York, Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger and Josef Seibel.
For the boys, I’ve bought many pairs of used Levis and Dockers in mint shape and nearly-new hoodies, dress shirts and cosy pullovers from Reebok, Mexx, Gap, Hollister and American Eagle.
Once laundered, ironed or dry-cleaned, you’d never know I paid as little as $2.75 for them.
That’s thriftiness at its finest.
Best part is if we tire of the clothing after one season, outgrow them or fads change, there’s not a lot of money on the line. I simply bag them up and drop them off at a second-hand store to be recycled again.