6 Brick-and-Mortar Clothing Resale Shop Saving Secrets

by Debra Karplus

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When it comes to buying clothing and building a wardrobe, resale shops can have you looking your best for significantly less than retail stores. Especially if you know and use these resale shop saving secrets.

People often buy classy designer label clothes for a special occasion, wear them once, and then donate them to your community resale shop. Others tire easily of their outfits and revamp their wardrobe each season. Many people change body size frequently and own lovely clothing that they can no longer wear.

Lucky you! These stylish hardly-worn garments can become yours, for even the fanciest of events, gathering compliments galore, if you shop at your local resale shop.

Attractive, stylish, high quality, low priced women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing awaits you both at the neighborhood resale shop and online resale shops, but these items are only bargains if you will wear them when you get them home.

Thanks to lighting and savvy display techniques (or in the case of online shops, great photography), clothing in any kind of shop almost always looks great on the rack on in a photo; that’s what good marketing is all about. So, there’s a bit of skill required to get the most out of your resale store shopping experience to assure that everything you purchase is wearable.

Follow these six steps and the abundant deals are yours.

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Before You Go Shopping:

1. Create a specific list of what you are looking for, and only buy what is on your list.

Only buy an entire ensemble or outfit. Do not buy an article of clothing only because it appears to be a good deal.

If you purchase that handsome men’s sport jacket or ladies fashionable sweater that matches nothing in your wardrobe, however cheap the garment was, it’s not a bargain if you can’t wear it with anything that is already in your closet or dresser drawer.

2. Shop when the resale store will be least busy.

Saturday afternoons and weekday evenings can be particularly busy times at a resale shop. This is when most people are not at their jobs and have ample time to run errands and accomplish tasks, such as shopping. It can be especially challenging negotiating the racks filled with clothing in your desired size, style, fabric, and color.

Shop during a weekday if you can; you will have an easier time navigating your way to the great thrift store deals.

3. Visit only shops that have fitting rooms and full length mirrors (or a good return policy).

Many neighborhood resale stores do not take returns. You must try on everything that you plan to buy. Don’t even consider selecting any resale shop garment that you cannot first model in front of a full-length mirror, or even a three-way mirror, when possible. If there’s no fitting room, don’t even bother to waste your time at this shop.

If shopping an online resale shop, choose stores that provide detailed measurements of items and allow for inexpensive, easy returns.

4. Bring shoes and other accessories when you plan to go resale shopping.

It is essential that you buy an outfit that will be ready to wear once you have brought it home and laundered it. The best way to know if it will really be worn by you is to bring whatever else you will wear with it. That includes shoes, purse, jewelry, scarf, belt, or men’s necktie, for example.

Plan ahead before you shop and you will be a more successful resale shopper.

While at the Thrift Shop:

5. Start by finding slacks or pants before shopping for upper body garments.

For most people, male or female, slacks and pants are tougher to fit than shirts and blouses. Therefore, start your shopping excursion by choosing bottoms that will fit and meet your needs. Then begin searching for matching tops.

Once you have potential outfits, then you can head to the fitting room.

If you’re shopping online, see if the site has a “favorites” feature. Save bottoms and tops as “favorites” and you can typically view them side by side in your “favorites” list to make sure that skirt and blouse really do seem to match.

6. Inspect and double check for holes, stains and other undesirable qualities or flaws before paying.

A missing button is easy to replace. A slightly torn seam can be stitched. (See 7 Simple Clothing Fixes Anyone Can Do.) But don’t even consider purchasing clothing unless it is really in acceptable condition to wear; thrift store clothing sometimes has cigarette burns hidden in inconspicuous places.

And be sure to look at the label, if there is a label, to find the washing instructions. You may want to think twice before buying a garment that requires dry cleaning; in some cases, the cost of dry cleaning may exceed the price of the garment! Check carefully before paying. (See Money-Saving Dry Cleaning Alternatives.)

The best online resale shops will provide this information in their descriptions. Read them thoroughly before buying.

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Next time you are attending a wedding, and one of the other guests compliments you on that fabulous designer gown that you are wearing that you picked up last week at your local thrift shop, just smile and say “thank you.” No one needs to know where you purchased it. It’s your own little secret.

Reviewed August 2023

About the Author

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon (Kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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