VanCoug thrift shopping: Four tips for finding those buried treasures

Students on a budget looking for an adventure should check out what your local thrift stores have to offer. From vintage blazers and graphic tees to jeans of every size, second hand stores have a lot to offer anyone willing to put in a little effort. Below are four tips for successful thrift store shopping and where to begin.

1. Give it a go, then try again
The turnover for clothing at different thrift stores will vary depending on how many people shop there and how many people donate items. Visiting thrift stores often will allow you to find the good stuff as soon as it comes into the store.

2. Quality over quantity
Not all the items at second hand stores will be in excellent condition. Look for quality brands you already know and like as well as pieces that are constructed well. The large selection of jeans, for example, makes it fairly easy to find quality pieces. Also look for quality clothing that can accommodate many different sizes and body types, like sweaters and skirts.

3. Check it out
Second hand stores accept a large amount of what is donated to them, so their conditions will vary. Before purchasing an item of clothing inspect it closely. Things to look for include missing buttons, tears, and underarm stains. Some stains wash out and tears can be mended, but only buy something you’re sure you can fix.

4. Shop around
Explore what second hand stores your community has. Visiting different shops allows you to explore more of your area and ensures the things you see are always fresh. Different neighborhoods will donate different things to their thrift stores; what you find depends entirely on who is donating. Check out the more prosperous areas to find nicer clothing. Visit thrift stores in the funky areas of Portland for funkier clothes.

It’s now time to put your newfound information to work. There are many different thrift stores in the Vancouver area and of course, plenty in Portland to sift through. Some, like Value Village, are for-profit but there are many others that are not.  The Salvation Army and Goodwill are both non-profit organizations that benefit the community and people around them. The Salvation Army uses profits to support their soup kitchens and to help shelter the homeless. Goodwill uses profits to help train and find people jobs within the community.

Take advantage of the smaller locally owned second hand and thrift stores in the Vancouver area. These stores cater to different groups and people and therefore collect different types of clothes. The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop brings in an older female audience, for example. Urban Eccentric in downtown Vancouver has a combination of vintage and modern clothing for younger students.

Finally, ask. Larger stores like Target often send their unsold clothes to second hand stores at certain times of the month. Look for items that still have department store tags if you’re looking for unworn items, you might get lucky.

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