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Everyone knows not to buy clothing that is faded, outdated, or has obvious tears or stains, but here are a few things to look for that are not so obvious: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