Thrifting takes time, saves money


Jorge Corona

Anais Rose looks at the stock of jeans at Saver’s Thrift Store on South Lamar Monday evening. Thrift store shopping, or “thrifting”, is a viable alternative when shopping with a low budget in mind.

Jessica Lee

It’s hard to be fashion forward in college. Everyone wants to look their best, but buying a closet full of new clothes while attempting to pinch pennies is almost impossible.

Rather than scouring through big name stores, consider thrift shopping. Thrifting is more than just shopping — it takes skill. In order to find the perfect outfit, you have to be willing to dig, but with time and dedication, you will have a closet full of clothes and money left to spend.

Before thrifting, it is important to remember that you should have an open mind. Unlike shopping at department stores, you cannot go into a thrift store with a particular piece of clothing or brand that you expect to find. Everyday a thrift store’s stock is different because it is purely based on what is being donated or sold. So don’t be discouraged if you leave empty-handed.

Austin has a variety of thrift stores ranging in price. For the novice thrifter, Buffalo Exchange is the perfect place to start. It is a bit pricey, but perfect for those who are hesitant about wearing previously worn clothing.

The shop has the feel of any other clothing store: garments are well organized, shoes are lined up by size and almost everything is a brand you will recognize. Each article of clothing is carefully picked out by the employees, so you don’t have to dig through a bunch of scrappy clothing to get to the good stuff.

If you are a bit more adventurous, Savers is the place to go. Like Buffalo Exchange, the clothing is well organized, but finding what interests you is more of a hunt. The explosion of sequins in the dress section will have you wondering if this is Betty White’s wardrobe from the series “The Golden Girls,” but don’t let that scare you away. Amazing vintage finds are hiding within the racks.

When thrifting, it is important to try on clothes before purchasing them. Since there is a variety of clothing from different eras, sizes may be different than what you are used to. Don’t be discouraged to find that just because you normally wear a size six, that vintage 1950’s size six dress is way too small.

Also, keep in mind that because you are getting clothing at such a low cost, investing in alterations may be something to consider. If you can buy a dress for only $7, but it’s too long for your taste, why not spend the extra $10 to get it hemmed? It’s still much less expensive than any department store find.

And thrifting isn’t just about clothing. Goodwill is a great place to purchase kitchenware and furniture. It is very en vogue to have an eclectic mix of mismatched glassware, plates and bowls. As for furniture, you can purchase tables, bookshelves and chairs easily for under $20. If the color is not to your liking, they can easily be spray-painted to fit your apartment’s current décor.

For the thrifting aficionado, there is the Goodwill Outlet, better known to avid shoppers as Blue Hanger. Located near the airport, Blue Hanger looks like a giant warehouse. The view on the inside is not much better. Bins of clothing are scattered about, as shoppers with giant shopping carts dig through clothing trying to find something worthwhile. It may seem like a lot of work, but at $1.39 per pound of clothing, it is certainly worth the hunt.

It is important to keep in mind that at Blue Hanger, you never know what you will come across. You might find a really great vintage dress or, more commonly, a pair of gross men’s underwear. Many of the thrifters at Blue Hanger wear gloves to avoid coming into contact with the latter.

Shoppers don’t necessarily look at entire articles of clothing, but the details. Vintage buttons from a worn sweater can be taken off and added to a piece of clothing you already have to give it a new look, or fabric from a large dress can be made into a skirt.

So before racing to the shopping mall early in an attempt to get a parking spot that isn’t a mile from entrance, consider thrifting. You never know what you will leave with, and your wallet will thank you later.

Printed on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 as: Thrifting for treasure