Journal Entry

I am learning to shop vintage, the goal is to reduce my carbon footprint.

Value VillageThere are those who shudder at the thought of buying used goods and of course there are those who do not see a barrier, they actually feel that it is the morally superior choice. I’ve am now firmly in the latter camp.  My goal is to reduce my carbon footprint so used makes sense. A complete work outfit from Value Village runs about $30.  That includes shoes ($14.00 Merrell high-end leather walking shoes), jeans (Lee $8), and shirt (Nordstrom’s short sleeve knit shirt $8).  The same set would run about $130 on sale at retail.  The price at Value village does not include the 20% that I typically get or the 50% sale price that can be obtained on special days.    There are some basic rules that I have learned over the past 12 months.  They include:
1.) Location, location, location: In general, thrift stores located on the better side of town generally have better stuff. However, this isn’t always the case. One of my favorite local thrifts, a funky little storefront run by a church, gets a lot of their stuff from the vastly more upscale neighborhoods. It always pays to ask where the thrift gets their merchandise. The richer the neighborhood, the more likely the locals do a lot of retail therapy, which then often hang in their closets for a year, unworn, until they eventually make it out to the local thrift store when spring cleaning time comes.

2.) Shop brands. The reason is simple; this is the best path to getting quality.

3.) If you’re going thrift store shopping with the intention of finding a particular item, (as opposed to going for a little retail therapy vacation and browsing aimlessly), then it helps to articulate your objective.  The alternative to this will fill one closet after another.

4.) Wash it! You will feel better if you launder or dry clean any garment or item you buy at a thrift store.

5.) Be consistent. People who don’t approve of thrift store shopping often point to the fact that you can’t be sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. To this I must answer, well duh. You’ll be much more successful in this world if you return to the store regularly. Consistency is the name of the game here. Find out when they put out their recently-received merchandise and show up early that day for the best pickings. Some stores put out the new stuff several times a day. Be there when it’s wheeled out from the back.

6.) Take your time.  Don’t go shopping at a thrift store when you’re rushed or not in the mood to pay attention to details. You may have to go through a 20 foot rack, one item at a time, before you find that perfect piece – take the challenge and take the time to dig out that treasure.  Any successful CEO will tell you with a smile that savings drops right to your bottom line.

7.) Pay attention to size and fit in clothing.  This is not any different than any other store.

8.) Merchandise is sold “as is”.  While most thrift stores sort and discard worn or damaged clothing, it’s still up to you to be sure it’s in acceptable condition. Check zippers, seams and button holes for damage. If you really like an item, but it damaged, decide if you can repair it. Don’t take it to the clerk and expect more of a discount – clerks in thrift stores don’t usually have the authority to change prices. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours.  Ask to try out appliances, games, etc., before buying them.

9.) I have found that is I shop with cash, I am much more selective.

I have started to shop regularly at Value Village in Totem Lake, Value Village in Redmond, the Northwest Thrift Store in Kirkland, and the Mercer Island Thrift Shop.  These stores not only recycle, but they support charities in the community.  You have to feel pretty good about that.

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