Have you ever been in a situation where you had to cut your spending significantly? Whether it happened because of an unexpected expense, unemployment, or your parents just took their credit card away, be prepared for a tailspin of depression. Once you hit rock bottom, you basically have two options. Marry someone rich or start enjoying simple things that previously caused you to turn your nose up. These can include, but are not limited to, coupon clipping, sale searching, air miles collecting, and thrift store shopping. Before the universe caved in on you because of whatever caused you to be poor, the thought of wearing something that once belonged to someone else might have made you vomit a little, but now it can be an exciting extra-curricular activity…you can’t afford yoga anymore anyway. The outfit alone is one month’s rent. Once you have come to terms with the fact that you’re not in a position to run to a store and purchase a brand name at retail prices you’ll need a little help to get started.
Determine Your Quality to Price Threshold
This is the amount of money you are willing to spend above certain classes of items for additional quality. Before you fell below the poverty line and became a burden to society, you might have decided that it was within your budget to purchase a pair of $60 jeans for the additional quality they had over the ones you could have bought at Walmart, but could not justify the $200 as the denim was not made of adamantium.( If they were, they wouldn’t be jeans… they’d just be AWESOME.) Now you have to decide whether you’re going to find a thrift store that hangs its used goods on racks or just dumps them in bins. The price difference is spending $10 on an item vs $2.50.
If you have absolutely no quality threshold, you can venture to “bin-land.” These are the skeziest of all the thrift stores. They just take bags of clothes and dump them in bins marked “pants” and “shirts.” If your allergies don’t immediately flare up upon entering the store, drop to your knees and thank God for your ridiculous immune system. Pick a spot in the bin to start. Get in there and push all of the clothing to one side. Go through each item one by one, but do it quickly. Most of what is in the bins is garbage. Every now and then you will stumble upon a brand name in your size that still has the tag on it. One or two of these finds will make it worth whatever disease you contracted digging through these piles of filth.
A note on etiquette: Never start searching in another person’s path in the same bin. It’s the thrift store shopping equivalent to flipping them off. Always start with the clothes they have already gone through. If someone starts looking at the clothing in front of you it is important to immediately flare your nostrils, curl your lip and glare until you’ve initiated a fight to the death or they move. (Fights to the death are common in Thrift stores, bring a knife or something)
Classy Thrift Stores
If you’ve decided that you still haven’t quite reached “bin-land” level poverty, you can opt for a more upscale used clothing store. These places disguise themselves as regular stores by hanging their clothes on racks , but still have a vast selection of suits from the 80’s, leopard print things for men and women and clothing that looks like it has leprosy or other assorted diseases. Because of its more convenient layout, these stores typically charge more for goods, regardless of the quality. They typically have a larger selection, with a higher probability of finding something that closely resembles what you would have worn pre-poverty. You just end up paying a little more for it here.
These are not thrift stores. If you’re shopping here, you’re not poor enough yet or you’re over budget. You definitely won’t find anything that has been worn by anyone else. You’re just looking through slightly damaged goods, or last season’s overflow. You are much less likely to run into a friend who is shopping for their Halloween costume though. You can go ahead and save face…but not much money.
Bringing Your Amazing Finds Home
This is the part of the experience where it’s important to note that you have just purchased things that belonged to a person you don’t know anything about, including their hygiene habits. It is entirely possible that they had some parasite living on them that will eat you in your sleep. You may think that because this article of clothing still has the tag on it, it’s safe….it’s not. Remember all the sad and decrepit clothing you saw in the bins reaching out to you yelling at you to either buy it or set it on fire and put it out of its misery? They touched it.
Seal the clothing in the plastic bag and bring it back home. Keep it sealed until it is ready to be thrown in the wash. Wash everything in boiling hot water or molten lava regardless of what the tag tells you to do. Put it in the dryer on the “Kill” cycle for “practically forever.” If your dryer has a “fumigate” setting, use it.
Like most things you’ve never tried before, it’s possible to start getting excited about thrift store shopping. You simply find an irritating way to bring up how much you spent on your clothing. You can be creative and try and work it into the conversation… or just be a tool about it and randomly ask people how much they think you spent on your outfit. Once you have felt the high of finding something expensive, with the tag still on and only paid 2$ for it, there is the risk of addiction. Thrift shopping is also a gateway drug to tailoring your own clothes (especially if you’re not good at it) and dressing like it’s the 80’s including wearing cords and bedazzled things. It’s important to have a sane friend nearby to make sure you’re not dressing and acting like a complete tool after the experience. Parents and siblings are most likely your best bet for this type of feedback.