People ask me all the time how I score amazing finds day after day at estate sales, garage sales, thrift or vintage stores. There is no real formula that I personally apply to sorting through racks and barrels of clothing. I score Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Halston or Prada at the fraction of the cost because I am on the hunt. It’s a learning process, and you either love it or you don’t.
Location, Location, Location: Just like when you’re looking for prime real estate for a new home, location is everything when on the hunt for the haute vintage garments. Know the ritzy zip codes in your area and target shops in that area. When I lived in Dallas, I shopped at one particular store that received pieces from the higher class neighbors of the city. I found designer’s items with the tag still on them! These stores are barely combed over and have a great selection.
Know the staff: Get to know the staff and owners at these stores. This will help you get great scores soon as they hit the sales floor or even before. When you know the staff and store policy, it makes for easier trips. Also, it helps to get better discounts on items. When I lived in Atlanta, the manager at B&R thrift used to remind me to log onto their Facebook page so I can get their $5 coupons. Frequency within a particular shop helps you build rapport with staff members.
Inspection of your garments: Just because you found amazing pants for .50 cents doesn’t mean they will be coming home with you. There have been numerous occasions when I have found fantastic pieces, but there was a rip or stain that wasn’t worth salvaging the piece. Check for loose buttons, stains that cannot be removed with woolite, rips on the inseam or tears along the zipper. Reconstruction of garments can cost hundreds of dollars if you are not careful.
Search Every Nook: Okay, I will state I am kinda of guilty of the hide-the-merchandise-in-the-store-to-come-back-and-get-later. Here is where the issue lies, most stores do discounts (50% off a certain color or two) for a week but run bigger specials on the weekend or during holidays. One time, I found this amazing Halston gown that I really wanted for my personal collection but was not dropping $50 on it right then and there. I hid it with the winter coats, and came back on Saturday when they were having a happy hour sale and bought it for 75% off. A shopper like me might be upset that our spots have been figured out, but it also has the potential to land you one heck of a deal.
Be Patience: Vintage shopping is COMPLETELY different then going to Macy’s for a quick purchase. There are times when items are placed in the wrong area or you’ll find a piece you cannot live without but it’s not your size. Breathe and take your time. Roam the isle and comb the racks with a fine tooth comb. The entire store is your playground for lavish pieces–just schedule time to hunt for them.
Discounts R Us: Every store is different when it comes to vintage or thrift shopping. You are already walking into a bargain when shopping at a thrift or vintage store. The added perks are that they have additional savings on top of that. For example: Texas Thrift has a color they pick for the week and you get 50% off that color for a week. Then the following Monday that color is 99 cents. Salvation Army picks two colors for the week that you receive 50% off. Some stores post information on their facebook or twitter. Goodwill in some states have a punch card program and you receive a discount after so many cards. Ask the staff about discounts. Also, if you plan on buying a lot that day, ask the staff for a discount. What’s the worst that can happen.
Tailor It: Say you are out vintage shopping and come across an amazing piece that is four sizes too big, but you truly love it. What makes an outfit pop even more is when its tailored to you. Vintage clothing was made with a higher quality than garments are now. You can easily get your dress or blouse taken in or out. Why pass on a vintage Yves Saint Laurent if it’s too small? Make it work. *Tim Gunn Voice* In all honesty, you would not want to miss out a piece that will become a staple in your wardrobe.
I hope these tips help you become an All-Star thrift and vintage shopper in your neck of the woods. Or, if you are not a vintage shopper, you can always shop Imperfect Concepts.I would love to have you as a customer!