Thrifting your way into savings

Amy Reinhardt

Everyone, particularly college students, is always searching for ways to save and spend less when it comes to shopping. Shelling out money for tuition, textbooks, rent and other expenses can become burdensome and expensive. Plus, all students know that financial aid and scholarships don’t cover everything.

As a student, one way I’ve saved money since high school has been through thrift shopping. A thrift store is a place where one can purchase donated goods. These stores often benefit a non-profit organization like Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Thrift shopping is not only a money saver, but it also helps shrink carbon footprints by reducing the pollution and waste released into the environment. Reused items have less travel distance compared to their newly manufactured counterparts from foreign competitors. Having lasted through the first owner, donated goods are already more durable, and thrift store items do not include the unessential packaging that tends to end up in the trash.

Aside from being an environmental preserver, thrift stores are growing in popularity. According to Yasmin Amer and Michaela Vincent of CNN, “Goodwill Industries reported an 83 percent increase in year-to-date revenue from 2007 to 2012.”

Thrift stores are growing in quantity as well with 2,700 Goodwill locations in 15 different countries. Savers, a thrift store on the rise, is adding 20 more stores annually.

Thrift stores allow people to add a unique splash to their fashion style. By sporting secondhand items eliminates the possibility of someone else wearing the same shirt or dress as you. According to PR Newswire, “nearly 40 percent [of Americans] said they would purchase a unique item no one else has over one sold in popular retail stores.”

Shopping in secondhand stores doesn’t just save money. However, if you’re still not convinced here are my top five tips for thrift store shopping:

The first would be to allow yourself to be open to the concept of thrift shopping. These stores aren’t in any way beneath you because everyone deserves the opportunity to save money on clothing and other reused goods.

The next tip would be to pinpoint all the local thrift stores in your area and do some research before going to browse the racks. Every store is different, so by doing your research, you will know which store suits your tastes.

This third tip is very important: always remember to wash your items after you purchase them. Thrift stores generally do wash all their items upon donation, but it never hurts to add in another cleaning. Also, don’t purchase anything you wouldn’t use or wear after someone else like undergarments, makeup, bowling shoes, wigs or bedding.

Always remember to be patient when shopping in a secondhand store. Thrift stores are stuffed with donations to provide you with more options, so take your time when sifting through the racks. Give yourself the chance to be surprised and happy by your discoveries.

My final piece of advice would be to enjoy the hunt. When people ask me what thrift shopping is like the only analogy I can think of would be that “thrifting is like a huge treasure hunt: you’re going to have to dig through some dirt, but you will always discover the gold underneath.”

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