It's Frugal Friday!
For those of you who subscribe to our RSS feed, sorry about the incomplete post! I've (Mel) been out of town all week and just finished this one.
I have become a huge thrift store shopper. I've familiarized myself with the layout of our local store in the past year, and I've also signed up for the store's email list for sales tracking. With 1 to 2 visits per month, my family is now getting outfitted with secondhand clothes more regularly. And with my new sewing hobby, I've scored some vintage fabrics at next to no cost!
There are two stores I highly recommend here in the Northern Virginia area.
9960 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22031-3902
Salvation Army Thrift Store
13287 Gordon Boulevard
Here are my tried and true tips for thrift shopping.
- Find & master a thrift store near you. Familiarize yourself with its store layout and sales cycles. I saw a thrift store advertised in my community newspaper for months before I visited it. At first I wasn't impressed with the store's organization, but over time I've become familiar with where things are and how staff put things on the racks. The staff is very helpful, though they're very busy. I signed up for the store's email list and now frequent "Thrifty Thursdays" when clothing & shoes are on sale for 50% off.
- Keep a running list of what your family needs. This helps me know how to shop (which section to hit first and where to spend my time) and limit what I buy. I'm learning not to buy something just because it's a good deal. If it's not on my list or something we'll use within the next 3 seasons, I don't buy it.
- Be willing to buy something for another season. This tactic has helped me plan our wardrobes within the coming year. I often find name brand items that I adore but know we won't use in the current season. If I know we have storage space for such items, I buy them. If not, I don't.
- Shop without kids whenever possible. Even though I know my store's layout well, I can't make it in & out of the store in less than an hour. My toddler would never hold up for such a long time, so I shop when I have coverage for him. Our store is open from 9 am - pm, so I have options on when I visit. Of course first thing in the morning offers me the best selection, so I aim for that when possible.
- Use a cart and snag things when you first see them. I like using a cart because it allows me to have both hands free. My shop organizes things by age (adults vs. kids) and sex, then loosely organizes things by color. There can be a lot to sort through, so it's crucial to have my hands free. I pull anything I might remotely buy, then I find an area of the store that has good lighting. I sort back through everything and weed out items that look the wrong size, have stains or other damages, etc.
- Enjoy the idea of bargain hunting! Twice in the past year I've had great runs where I find Banana Republic items for myself, Old Navy purses in mint condition, and name brand toddler clothing for my son. At least 2 other times I've left the store with next to nothing. I don't allow myself to get disappointed on the days I don't find much, because I know that I'm saving my family lots of money on the days when I DO find steals. Part of finding steals is having days where you don't!