If you’re like us, thrifting has been in your blood for some time now. You were exposed to it and somehow, it just became a part of who you are. You love a bargain, but you also love the extra elements of what it means to ‘thrift’ or ‘opshop’ – the stories that are tied to each and every piece that you come across and the positive impact it has on our communities and environments.
Then on the other hand, maybe this is a new space for you. Maybe this is unchartered territory and you’re still finding your footing. If so, chin up! This has been true for all of us, but read on as we share some tips to help you get the most out of thrifting and hunting through opshops.
1. Make a list
A wise Adelaide local once said you should always have a list of what you need to buy, but be willing to ditch that list when you find the treasure you didn’t know you needed! Now, not only is that practical from the point of view of a list, it’s fun too! A great way to reduce, reuse and recycle is to head out to an opshop first before you seek out something brand new – so say you need a new container for your pasta and a couple of kitchen utensils. You get to us here at Junktion and not only do you find those items on your list (because we have a cute little homewares section just waiting for you!), you also end up snagging a hardly-worn pair of winter boots, a couple of Kathy Reichs novels, a cute knitted jumper and a salt shaker in the shape of a moose. How’s that for a fun afternoon supporting a local business!
2. One in, one out
This is important for us thrifty people. Because we have a deep love of preloved, and are drawn to these places constantly, we pick up odds and ends constantly too. If we were to travel this path all the time, our houses would be overrun with great things, but too many things. So a good rule of thumb is to replace one with one. So, maybe you get a couple of shirts and a pair of boots – you then donate a skirt, a jumper and a pair of sneakers in the process. Three for three, in this case. It doesn’t have to be as you buy your new treasures, not even to the same shop, but it’s a handy little tip to keep your wardrobe and your house uncluttered.
3. Learn to sew
Wait, what? Yes, that’s right! Thrifting means that there is usually only one of each item in the store and if you find something vintage or that matches your colour palette or personal aesthetics, there are often chances it doesn’t actually fit. This is problematic unless you can fix it, and we mean with a needle and thread! If that gorgeous caftan you just have to have is a foot too long, you can simply hem it. There’s a vintage pair of Levi jeans in your leg length, but the waist has been stretched out. Guess what? You can fix that with a bit of clever sewing too! Don’t write something off because it doesn’t look quite the way you think it ought to straight away, and if there are major alterations needed, sometimes you can get that all sewn up nicely with a professional tailor.
4. Befriend the staff
If you frequent specific shops regularly, it can pay to befriend the staff who run the place. Sometimes, they are the ones who know all the ins and outs of their donators as well as how often items are dropped off. They may even know of items that come from retail stores as seconds but are still BNWT (brand new with tags). It can also be useful to just have a second set of eyes on the pieces you’re looking at – everyone needs a friend to tell them that the fedora they’re trying on just might not be the right fit!
5. Pay attention
Almost every item you will come across in an opshop will be second hand. So you will expect some wear, some tear, and some preloved chinks, but given that the majority of thrift stores won’t take returns and offer refunds because of these issues like a retail store will, it pays to look a little closer. If there’s a thread hanging loose here or there, no worries. You can probably get by or even fix it yourself. But given the sheer volume of stock that these little shops often see, staff may not get to check each and every item really close. You need to do this yourself to make sure that there’s no extra hole in a shirt’s armpit, or the sole of those high-top sneakers aren’t coming apart. Paying a little extra attention could save you some heartbreak later on.
How do you like to opshop? Do you follow any of these little tips as you browse the racks and shelves of your local thrift store? Do you have a sure-fire way of making the most of your time in a Vinnies, a Salvos or even in our little corner of Adelaide? Drop a comment and let us know!
Closed currently for school holidays but back again on Wednesday 28th.