In online forums and on youtube, frugal shoppers are voicing concern over rising thrift store prices. I can attest to that in my own experience. I have been thrift shopping for three decades. As an avid shopper for second-hand menswear, I have noticed the sharpest rise in prices in my local thrift shops in the past year or so. Why are thrift store prices rising, and how can you beat them?
Some blame the popularity and boasts of online resellers for the problem. There are plenty of youtube videos where online resellers regale us with tales of high profits from reselling thrift shop purchases. Others see it as a grab for higher revenues by thrift stores at a time when thrift shopping has become more popular than ever. Whatever the cause, there is no denying that thrift store prices are rising sharply.
Here are a few menswear thrift-shopping strategies that will help you to save more money!
However, when it comes to thrift shopping for high-quality menswear (my specialty) there are bargains to be found, both in local thrift shops and in online marketplaces such as eBay.com. Here are some strategies for saving money and uncovering high-quality second-hand menswear bargains in a time of rising thrift-shop prices.
Be Selective, Buy Less, Buy Quality
Because prices are so low in thrift stores, there is a tendency to impulse shop. You can easily wind up with a bunch of items that simply don’t blend well with your current wardrobe or get much wear. You bought them primarily because the price was irresistibly cheap. That’s wasted money. Have a plan. Know what colors and styles of clothing are most likely to work with the clothing you currently own. Build a foundation of classic clothing and add items that complement it. Be prepared to walk out of a thrift-shop empty-handed rather than fill the urge to buy something just because it catches your eye. Often a bit of selectiveness and patience will lead you to worthy, useful bargains.
Thrift shops know what brands or styles of clothing have the greatest mass-market appeal. Those items, reflecting current fads, will be given a higher markup in prices. In fact, that is where you see the most-expensive thrift store prices. Mass-market appeal is not quality! Often, higher quality menswear brands that are overlooked by fad-driven consumers have lower prices both online and in local thrift shops. Educate yourself on brands and quality. With a discerning eye, you can consistently uncover second-hand bargains in suits, sportcoats, and other tailored menswear overlooked by fad-driven consumers.
Take Care of Your Thrifted Clothing
It can be tempting to take second-hand clothing for granted because it costs so little. However, when you buy quality second-hand garments and care for them, they do not need to be constantly replaced. My favorite blazer was purchased at a thrift shop thirty years ago for $20.00, and always elicited compliments when I wore it. I recently retired that jacket only because I had outgrown it. It provided many years of stylish wear. Taking care of your clothing reduces the need to constantly be buying more.
The proper use of a clothes brush, a clothing steamer, and proper hangers all contribute to the longevity of your suits and sportcoats. This helps you to avoid dry cleaning as much as possible as it shortens the life of your garments. Learning proper laundering and ironing techniques all help to extend the usable life of your clothing. As a result, you spend less when thrift shopping.
Learn Basic Sewing Skills
If you plan to make thrift shopping for clothing a lifelong habit, learning basic sewing techniques will help you to avoid the high cost of alterations. Often, it costs more to alter tailored clothing such as suits and sportcoats than it does to purchase them at thrift shops. You (or someone close to you) can purchase a reliable sewing machine for as little as $100.00. You can learn the basics of sewing from youtube videos or at a local class.
Men’s clothing follows highly standardized methods of construction. With a bit of practice, basic alterations can be done to perfectly tailor your suits and sportcoats. Now, this tip is not for everyone. However, for those who do take advantage of it, it yields enormous savings with each passing year of thrift shopping along with stylish, well-tailored results.
Thrift the Road Less-Travelled
Generally, you see sharpest rises in thrift store prices primarily in national chains such as Goodwill and Savers. Lesser known and local thrift shops run by local charities, hospitals, etc., generally have lower prices. Some thrift shops may have markdown days or discounts that you can take advantage of. Also, along with eBay, there is a growing selection of online marketplaces that offer second-hand clothing (Poshmark is a personal favorite). Widening out in your shopping efforts may reveal alternative outlets that offer enticing second-hand bargains. When shopping online, I have learned the art of uncovering underpriced second-hand bargains by looking beyond poor quality photos and descriptions. With a bit of experience and effort, you will sharpen your thrift shopping skills.