I asked Caiti and Jess, the ladies behind Lucille’s, one of my favorite vintage shops in Portland (find them on etsy or at their booth at the Flea), to offer us all some practical thrifting tips, I didn’t realize they’d be sharing their secrets. Their tips were so good that I debated sharing them – it felt like cheating! But that’s how much I love you guys. I’m sharing the wealth. You’re welcome.
1. Bring supplies! We have a Lucille’s Travel Kit that we bring with us for long picking trips, and it’s absolutely packed with supplies like sunscreen, deodorant, hand lotion, and handi-wipes. At the very minimum, for a long day of thrifting we recommend that you arm yourself with: hand sanitizer (an ABSOLUTE necessity), emergency snacks (we always have granola bars or protein bars), and some bottled water.
2. Do some research! We’re big fans of research. Before you set out on your adventure, do a quick Google search to find other thrift stores and antique shops in the area. If you’re going out for a thrift day, you might as well hit as many places as you can before you run out of energy.
3. Know your sales! Most thrift stores have discount days where you can get some killer savings. For instance, Salvation Army is half off on Wednesdays. One of of our favorite Salvation Armys has a day where everything of a certain tag color is 50 cents, which is basically the best thing ever. And if you didn’t know it yet, Salvation Army on Warren Ave in Portland has half off on Tuesdays if you have a student ID – work those student loans, baby! Also, if you’re at Goodwill, be sure to see what color barb is on sale for the day.
4. Don’t limit yourself to just Salvation Army & Goodwill!
There are a lot of amazing thrift stores that are individually owned that have amazing things for great prices (hello, Little Ghost!
). Also, don’t be afraid to pop your head into an antique shop every now and then. There are some good deals to be found, especially if it’s a group shop. Don’t count on finding clothing, but if you’re in the market for tchotchkes and fun little things, be sure to check out Cliff’s
in Scarborough. (Editors note: I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY JUST GAVE AWAY CLIFFS!!! SECRET REVEALED!!).
5. Once you get into the store… head to the back! That’s where all the deals are! The mere mortals who start shopping in the front like normal people sometimes don’t even make it to the back of the store, so there are lots of items that people haven’t even looked at yet. There’s usually a sales rack lurking back there somewhere, too.
6. Take your time! We usually end up taking a couple laps around the store to make sure we haven’t missed anything. Sometimes the employees will be restocking the racks as you’re walking around, or other shoppers put things back they don’t want anymore. Don’t miss out on that sweet, sweet stuff! This rule applies especially when you’re at huge places, or at crazy places like the Goodwill Buy The Pound in Gorham.
7. Look in every section! Thrift stores aren’t the world’s most organized places sometimes. I don’t know how many times I’ve found amazing stuff in places they shouldn’t be – a great, worn in men’s tshirt in the kid’s section, beautiful housewares in with the toys, or vintage dresses in with the suits. Even just taking a quick scan in a section you don’t usually go in may turn up some fruitful rewards.
8. Look over everything you pick carefully! It’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush of a good deal. Maybe that dress you picked up looks amazing and is only $3, but you should probably look it over first. Make sure it doesn’t have any huge stains, or issues that can’t be repaired. Same thing goes with housewares and dishes – it’s easy to not notice a chip on something when you’re really excited about it (it just happened to me the other day!)
9. Learn to deal with small issues! So maybe that dress that’s $3 is so amazing you can’t let it go, despite that huge hole in the armpit. That’s fine… sew that thing up, yo! We very often end up repairing hems and small holes, as well as making small modifications on items if they have good bones (i.e. chopping off horrible, puffy 1980s sleeves). Or maybe you’re in love with something that has some stains… it’s not the end of the world. Try bringing a Tide Stain Stick with you to see if the stains on the things you find are going to come off in the wash or not… if the Tide Stick doesn’t help, you may want to leave it alone. Pro Tip: if you’re unsure about whether you can fix something, but you can’t seem to pry it from your hands and put it back on the rack, ask if there’s any flexibility with the price. Goodwill will very often give you half off an item if you ask nicely (but you can’t return it).
10. Have fun! Dance around the aisles and since Macklemore songsto psych yourself up. Try on silly outfits. When you’re marathon thrifting, it’s easy to get tired, but remember… you’re getting kickass deals and that makes you amazing.
Thank you so much, ladies! Don’t forget to follow Lucille’s on their blog