Thrifting for beginners


Many people cringe when they think of shopping in thrift stores. Seeking out items worth purchasing may seem almost impossible. Despite this challenge, students have learned to conquer the sea of merchandise and emerge with some great finds. But most of them have a method to their madness.

Lexi Johnson, a junior majoring in art, began shopping at thrift stores in order to avoid a materialistic lifestyle.

Johnson’s loathing of materialism caused her to develop a more efficient way of shopping for thrift store items. Johnson shared the approach she takes in order to make shopping at thrift stores easier.

1. Learn to recognize good materials. This will help you leave behind several polyester, acrylic and rayon blouses in favor of linen and silk.

2. Know your patterns. Know which patterns excite you. Know which patterns don’t work for you.

Shoppers can buy anything from a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal to a vintage porcelain doll. (Andrea Hudson)
Shoppers can buy anything from a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal to a vintage porcelain doll. (Andrea Hudson)

3. Further investigate: look at the fastenings. Look for ugly/cheap buttons and stuck zippers.

4. Never leave a thrift store without trying on everything you are thinking of buying: nothing is returnable. There is some magical quality at thrift stores that makes sweaters look like they will positively fit you; but they may actually be too small when you try them on.

5. Have a game plan.

Johnson’s anti-materialism mindset is put at ease when she makes thrift store purchases.

“I felt a lot less guilty about Chinese factories pumping out blouses when I was buying them second hand and not actually supporting the labor by buying these articles of clothing full-priced in the stores directly from the merchants who are exploiting the workers,” Johnson said.

Whether students shop at thrift stores for their inexpensive prices or for a greater cause, the student demographic in these stores has a high percentage.

Evelyn Harris, manager at the Provo Deseret Industries, notes the effects students have on the store’s success.

“We can tell immediately when BYU students are coming back because the percentage is just really high,” Harris said. “It is definitely affected by the student population; there is no question about that, in donations, but definitely in sales. If BYU ever left, the store would be greatly affected.”

In spite of the store’s success and advice as to how to conquer thrift stores, some shoppers still fail to find the appeal. Nathan Smith, a sophomore, is undeterred by such advice.

“I just don’t get it,” Smith said. “Thrift stores, to me, are just way too overwhelming and not worth the time you have to put into it. I would choose online shopping or the mall over a thrift store any day — even if it means paying more money. Plus, afterward I always feel itchy somehow; that’s the worst feeling.”

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