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Thrifting made easy

Because shopping is hard on your wallet

by Beth Koehler/Copy Editor

Spence's on Jackson is located in Charleston. This is one of the area thrift stores one can explore at. Photo by Kaitlyn Conrad

Spence’s on Jackson is located in Charleston. This is one of the area thrift stores one can explore at.
Photo by Kaitlyn Conrad

Shopping at thrift stores is an excellent way to find some name brand clothing at reasonable prices, or just to find some neat stuff in general. Unfortunately, whether or not one can find anything usable is somewhat of a gamble.  Fortunately, there are some very simple things that can make the trip a bit less of a headache and increase the likelihood of finding something good.

To start off, give yourself a limit. How much money are you not only able, but willing to spend at a given store? This is especially important if you plan to stop at more than one shop. With all that stuff around that is ripe for the taking, it is so very easy to get carried away and buy that Harley Davidsson tea set, but do you really need it? Also, when you set your limit, do not feel obligated to spend that much at that store. You are not required to attempt to spend your limit at a store. It is there to fall back on, not a goal to reach.

When buying clothes, always inspect carefully. Every single article, no matter how pristine it seems at a glance, needs to be looked at carefully for stains, tears, thinned areas, lining/hem issues or anything else. Be super critical of shoes- odds are they have been worn a bit before, so arches may be worn down, broken or contain holes. Take a careful look at any buttons, zippers or snaps the clothes may have in case something needs replaced and be sure to check any pockets or flaps – cleanliness is important. If there is a ton of dirt or a dirty tissue to be found in an article of clothing, it might be best not to trust it.

While you can find just about anything thrifting, some things should just not be bought. Do not buy used food processing equipment (toasters, blenders, etc.) Not only is it possible that they have not been properly cleaned or are festering something inside, but there is no guarantee they will work once you plug them in. Do not buy helmets for your own safety and please do not buy underwear. Do not buy makeup, since most do not have best by dates and who knows how the previous owner handled them.

Do not buy mattresses or stuffed animals from a thrift shop- both are prone to holding lice, bedbugs and other creepy crawlies. Finally, do not buy baby equipment (like strollers or cribs), seeing as the safety precautions they come with may be out of date. Do not skimp on something that could endanger a child’s life.

All that being said, thrifting is a great and easy way to get good items for cheaper prices. Not everything in a thrift store is worthless scrap – sometimes, there are some real jems to be found. For any unwanted clothes or items, consider donating to a charity or thrift shop. It is a strong possibility that’s someone else’s day could be made by the donation.

The website offers ratings and locations of thrift stores in the area.

One last word of advice- do not start singing the Macklemore song. It is very possible to get thrown out for this.


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