14 Tips for Buying Thrift Store Clothing

Thrift store shopping is my preferred way to buy clothing for resale since I can take my time and thoroughly look over each item, whereas at yard sales, I tend to rush because I want to get to more sales.

Everyone knows not to buy clothing that is faded, outdated, or has obvious tears or stains, but here are a few things to look for that are not so obvious:

1. Armpits – Look for deodorant stains, yellowing, fading, pilling inside and out. Even if deodorant is not visible, hold the item up to the light.  Some deodorants dry clear, but have glitter in them.

2. Collar – Unfold the collar if the item has one and check the crease for stains.  If it doesn’t have a collar that folds, check the tag on the back of the neck.  If it’s grungy looking, you might want to pass.

3. Buttons – I button an item to make sure they are all there and not about to fall off.  I don’t mind tightening a loose button on a nice item, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it if I don’t have to.

4. Zippers – Unzip and zip them all the way to make sure they are completely functioning, then close the hook and eye and make sure it’s securely in place.  Now check the stitching on the seam just below the zipper and make sure it has not come unraveled.  This is likely from people trying to wear an item too small and causing the zipper to come loose from the seam it is attached to.

5. Stains – They are not always obvious, and good lighting is crucial, especially with light colored items.  Sometimes I can’t see a stain until I hold the item up in daylight.  Check the edges of collars and cuffs.

6. Seams – I take items off the hanger, then hold it up with one hand while I run the other hand up and down the seams on each side.  This works best with skirts and tops; with pants, I pull at the legs along the seams.  This is how I can see if a seam has come apart and needs sewing.

7. Hem – Check the hem on skirts and pants for alterations.  If an item has been altered, I pass on it because it is no longer the original size.  Also check for frayed or grimy edges.

8. Safety pins – These can be found in the center of a top with a surplice neckline or inside the waistband to hold it together.  If it needs a safety pin, I don’t buy it.

9. Crotch – Yep, inside and out, especially on women’s clothing for obvious and gross reasons.  The state of some of the clothing that is donated to thrift stores then put out for sale is appalling.  I mean, I’m not expecting everything to be pristine, but come on.  Also check the fabric on the inside upper thigh area for pilling.

10.  Belt loops– Make sure they are all there and all intact.

11. Pockets – Put your hand inside and make sure there are no holes. Or Kleenex, or gum wrappers, or whatever.

12. Tags– I want items that have the tags with the brand name, the size, where it was made and what it is made from.  These are description fields on the eBay listing form so I want to make sure I have that information on the item before I buy it.

13. Pilling– Obviously, if the garment has overall pilling from general washing and wearing, you don’t want it.  Less obvious are the inside upper thigh area mentioned above, as well as the armpit area.  Nothing fixes this, so I pass on these items.

14. Smell– Since I only buy items that don’t need washing before I sell them, I have to make sure they don’t have an offensive odor of any kind.  This includes cigarette smoke, mildew, moth balls, heavy detergent scents and perfume or cologne residue.  I’m sure I look like a freak smelling used clothing, but I can’t have one item getting its stank all over everything else I bought that day.

That’s pretty much it.  It sounds like a lot, but once you get used to what you are looking for, it’s less than 30 seconds per item.

Feel free to Pin this list for future reference, and happy shopping!


Yard Sale Day & Habitat ReStore Shopping

Most weekends, I luck out with the weather on Yard Sale Day.  Not this weekend, which makes me sad because it was Belle Hall’s Community Sale, which is one I try not to miss.  I managed to get to one sale before the rain started and scored a nice stack of clothing and shoes, including J. Crew, Theory, Living Doll, Emu and Donald Pliner for $22.00. (***UPDATE*** All but 4 of the items shown in the photo sold for a total of $150.00  That’s what I’m talking about.)

So that was the end of Yard Sale Day.  I have found that even if I wait until the rain stops, most things are left out too long and they are damp, if not completely wet.  There are just too many other sales out there to deal with putting wet stuff in my car.  So…I killed the next 45 minutes at Starbucks until the nearest Habitat
ReStore opened. The Habitat Restores here sell books by the bag, so I was able to get a stack for $3.  I also experiment with vintage and antique items here, many of which are priced below $5.  I picked up a Wilton stoneware cookie mold (which I will list closer to the holidays), a Joie pumpkin shaped…something or other…(saved for fall), a Glasbake soup bowl and an adorable French porcelain strawberry bowl which is so stinking cute I am tempted to keep it.  Total: $7.00.  One of the books has already sold for $3.99, so I’m over halfway to making my money back. (***UPDATE*** The Glasbake bowl sold for $8.99 and the berry bowl for $3.99.  Not my best ROI, but I more than doubled my money and still have the rest of these items for sale.)

So not the worst day. And now I don’t have to water the garden. 🙂

A few tips on shopping at Habitat ReStore:

  1. They don’t haggle.  There are multiple signs stating that their proceeds go to build houses and the price marked is the price.
  2. Most locations don’t sell clothing; in fact, only one I’ve been to in this area sells it and the prices aren’t great.
  3. I don’t know how they decide prices, but there doesn’t seem to be a set structure, so it is hit or miss.  And sometimes it’s a pretty nice hit, like these candlesticks I bought for $1.00.
  4. They use labels as price stickers, so make sure you peek under them.  I bought a Lenox item there and when I got it home, there was a crack in it under the price label.
  5. All sales are final.

There you go!  Click here to find your nearest Habitat ReStore…and happy shopping!

Siggi’s is My New Favorite!

Where has this been all my life?  I’ve been eating yogurt for like…30 years, and I cannot fathom how I have overlooked a yogurt with an adorable name, zero fat, low sugar and the thickness of cake frosting!  Seriously, that’s my spoon standing upright in it. This is going on the permanent grocery list, for real.   Here’s a coupon if you want to try it too…enjoy!

UPDATE:  I just finished this and it has a tear tab on the paper label so you can remove it and recycle it separately from the plastic container…they’ve thought of everything, no?…and there is a little info on the inside on why it is so thick and amazing. 🙂


Thrift Store Shopping Day!

I love Mondays! All the 7-day auction items end on Sunday, so Monday is like payday. Which, of course, means I have shopping money. 🙂  Thrift store shopping is my favorite, because unlike yard sales, I can take my time looking through items instead of rushing from one sale to the next, and the prices are just as good on most items.

I got a ton of stuff today for $45, including a few items I’m pretty psyched about.  Like these J. Crew Clemson orange swim trunks for $1.50, still new with the tags…

…these HYSTERICAL Margaritaville new and sealed hand soaps, both for $2.99 total. The pumps play clips of Jimmy Buffet songs when you push them down… 😂


…two Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles for 99 cents each…

…and this 1975 Selchow & Righter Company backgammon game for $2.99.

Vintage games and toys are one of those things I always fall for even though most of the time they don’t sell well. But occasionally they do, so I get them if they are only a few dollars. Either way, they’re pretty cool…I really dig the designs on this board and the retro graphics on the booklet.

10 Rules for Yard Sale Shopping

Don’t you hate articles that have 5 paragraphs of blah, blah, blah before you get to the list you wanted to read?  Me, too.  Here’s the list; it comes from the experience of a dozen or more years of Saturday morning yard sale shopping sprees…

The Rules

  1.  Have small bills.  Yes, the easiest thing to do is stop and get money from the ATM.  You know what the second easiest thing is?  Pull through (insert favorite coffee drive through here), get a small coffee, pay with a $20 and get back…small bills.  Now you have coffee and the first yard sale owners you buy from won’t hate you.  Don’t forget a few quarters.  I can’t tell you how many times I went to a sale, found one thing I really wanted that was 25 cents and had to wait around for change.
  2. Be on time, but not too early.  Of course you want to get there before all the good stuff is gone, but you don’t want to be a jerk, either.  If people say “no early birds”, respect that.  People will be happier to bargain with you if you shop on their terms.
  3. Park politely.  Everyone hates the guy with the giant extended cab truck pulling a trailer and blocking the whole street.  Don’t be that guy (or girl).  Pull further down and park out of the way.  You won’t die if you have to walk a few more feet.  Also?  Don’t pull up on people’s grass and leave tire grooves all over it.  Also, also?  Don’t block the neighbor’s driveways.
  4. Haggle, don’t hassle.  People generally expect shoppers to get a few bucks off the price of furniture or bundle several items for a reasonable price.  But if you’re given a price and they don’t want to negotiate, either pay what they want or move on.  (Talking to you, flea market vendors.)  Nobody likes to feel taken advantage of in their own yard.
  5. Don’t lie.  True story:  a guy haggles (hassles) for an item that is $5, he wants to pay two.  He pulls two ragged $1 bills out of his pocket and says he’s down to his last $2 and would they take that?  The owner takes it with that “fine, just get it and go” look on his face.  30 seconds later, the guy sees something else he wants for $1 and pulls the money out of his pocket to pay for it.  Um…are those MAGIC POCKETS, sir?  Sheesh.
  6. Don’t steal.  This better be self-explanatory.
  7. Don’t smoke.  It’s disrespectful to the homeowner, their belongings and their other customers.  You’ll be back in your car in 5 minutes and you can smoke all you want in there.
  8. Don’t make a mess.  If you have to have the one shirt that is underneath 20 other shirts, by all means, go for it, but don’t leave everything looking like garbage when you’re done.
  9. Leave your kids and pets at home.  Not everyone likes dogs, and some people are allergic. If you do bring your kids, keep an eye on them.  No one wants to babysit while you shop.  Dogs should stay in the car…with the windows open, of course.
  10. If kids are selling lemonade, buy it.  Or cookies, or bottled water, or homemade bracelets, or whatever.  Any kid that has the motivation to get up early, put a table in the driveway and sit there for 4 hours asking people to buy things deserves to make a couple of bucks.  On the flip side, if the kid is nowhere to be found  leaving mom to do the work, or can’t speak to you in a sentence with words like “please” and “thank you”, well, then…you’re off the hook.

Most of this is common sense, I know, but I have seen all of these things happen in people’s driveways at one time or another.  We all want to get the best stuff for the lowest price, why not be pleasant and respectful while we’re at it?  Happy shopping!

Yard Sale Day, What Not To Do and Top Picks of the Week

You know it’s going to be a good yard sale day when there’s a Ryan Gosling ‘Hey, girl” sign…

Here’s what I got for $20 on Saturday…

…which is a pretty good haul.  I’m excited about the Borns, the Adrienne Vittadini shoes and the Renpure Conditioner.  Already sold the RCA MP3 Player and the Motherhood nursing bra for a total of $32, so this trip is already paid for!

I did make two rookie mistakes, though.  See the necklace/bracelet set?  Looks like Pandora?  NOT Pandora.  So that was mistake one.  I paid $3 and I’ll get something out of it, but not what I would get for Pandora.  ALWAYS know your product before buying!  Although…sometimes I’ve bought things not knowing and they turned out to be real money makers, so I guess the real rule is…be willing to take a risk.

Mistake #2…I was at a sale that had a Cole Steel portable typewriter with a case for $5.  No one else was there shopping so in my head I thought, hey, I’ll look around for a minute, then get that on the way out.  I literally turned around for 1 minute and looked back and it was gone.  I was like, “Did you just sell the typewriter?”  It was so fast, I thought maybe the owner had just moved it. Nope, someone walked up, bought it, and left.  NEVER leave something on the table if you want it, not even for a minute, not even if no one else it there!  Oh, well….$60 lesson learned.

I had to cut the shopping a little short to make it to a new yoga class I wanted to try at 10:30….Yoga & Beer at Oak Road Brewery.  Yoga. And beer. This is real, people.  I can’t make this up.