Thrifting 101: Do you thrift and tell?


We all have our secrets.

We might take credit for a recipe that came from Paula Dean. We may dye our hair in the bathroom sink and claim its gorgeously glossy color as our own. On occasion, we pretend to love the National Geographic channel when we'd much rather curl up with Mob Wives. There are those who swear allegiance to their spouse's favorite football team but really, really, really hate football. And let's not forget the plethora of secrets we keep from nosy neighbors and suffocating in-laws. Those are better left to ourselves.

Amongst thrifters, there's a different kind of secret. It's the hushed voice, the inquisitive glance, the pinkie swear that what is spoken will not be shared. This is the kind of secret many thrifters keep from their best friends and closest relatives -- the most guarded information which they squirrel away in the dark, twisty recesses of their brains.

It's the name of our favorite stores.

I was at a blogging event last spring when I found myself chatting with a fellow thrifting enthusiast. She was wearing the most incredible vintage skirt, and I asked her where she got it. "I'd rather not say," she stated, eyes cutting left and right. "It's my favorite thrift store. You understand." I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to pry the name of the store from her before giving up. I was so baffled by this incident that I wondered if I was committing a grave error by freely sharing the names of my own favorite stores. Would I benefit by refusing to share the stores I shopped at the most? Was I breaking some sort of cardinal rule by inquiring about where acquaintances thrift? Are we thrifters expected to keep our favorite shops a secret?

Since I started my Thrifting 101 series a year ago, I've received a countless number of emails from those both in and outside of Dallas asking where I thrift. I would never consider keeping the names of my favorite stores a secret. Why? First of all, I love being part of the thrifting community. I love sharing my scores with friends, and discussing the best way to remove stains from silk (Oxy Clean Max Force gel stain stick and a gentle spin in the wash...trust me). I love planning group thrifting excursions, and I adore celebrating the special pieces my friends dig up. Part of the joy of being a thrifter is sharing the excitement of a treasured find with a like-minded enthusiast -- someone who loves thrifting and vintage as much as you do. There is a real sense of community among thrifters, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Secondly, we when thrift, we are all looking for different things and in different sizes. My preference for sequins and 1950's dresses with full skirts might not be yours. Your budget might not be the same as mine either, and our reasons for thrifting could be dramatically different. As a result, we could  thrift at the same store and have totally conflicting experiences. Purposely choosing not to share favorite stores transforms a treasure hunt into a competition. And why would we want to do that? There's more than enough thrift fun to go around.

Now I ask you: Do you share the names of your favorite haunts, or keep them to yourselves? Has anyone ever refused to share their best stores with you? Do you keep thrifting secrets?

(P.S: Curious about the ginormous Goodwill pictured above? It's located at 2010 North Graves Street in McKinney, Texas and is one of my favorites!)


25 comments:

  1. LOVE this post Elissa! I'm more into consignment shops and sample sales than thrifting - but the theme of your post still applies. When someone asks where I got a fabulous frock, in my head I am always thinking, "Should I tell them this cost $35 and I got it at XXX? Or should I just say "thank you and say I don't remember where it came from". I'm always proud of my finds but reluctant to share my "secret stores". It's a quandary!

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  2. Most people would be shocked at how much of my wardrobe consists of finds from everything from thrift stores to ebay...but when I'm asked where I got those things I usually just say they're vintage. Not because I'm ashamed or secretive about the stores, but because the few times I've told the truth the asker looked at me like I was nuts. More treasures for me, then. ;-)

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  3. I have to admit I don't like too many people to know my thrift sources - unless they're not my size!

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  4. I've noticed this among shoppers in general! I've never understood the idea of keeping secret where something was purchased, as I want everyone to look and feel fabulous.

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  5. Interesting topic! I am a big thrift store ambassador. I always encourage friends and coworkers to check out my favorite local stores, because I know how much joy thrifting brings ME as an activity. In my job and on my blog I try to encourage green living, wallet-friendly alternatives, supporting local business and nonprofits - so I can't help but WANT to share my favorite thrift sources ;)

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  6. I have also found that people are really quirky about thrifting finds. I'm always proud of my special items ("Dude, I got this Louis Vuitton for $2.99 at a thrift store in Pottsboro!!"), but most people give me funny looks and either 1. don't believe me, or 2. say that I should keep the information to myself. I guess a lot of people still think of thrifting as indicative of low financial status.

    To get back to the prompt, when I first started thrifting, I was a little protective of my stores, but then I realized that there are SO MANY out there, and I don't have the financial freedom to snap up everything I find, so why not share the wealth? It's fun to share the thrifting experience with other people and encourage more responsible consumption.

    Shout it from the rooftops, I say.

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  7. If I get complimented on a thrifted item, I always tell the person where I got it and I even sometimes will say how much I paid for it. I'm happy to share thirfting tips. Many people won't have the patience for thrifting; some people turn up their noses at wearing secondhand. For the few, the proud, the thrifters, I find there is so much out there that there is plenty to go around. Garage sale season is always a treasure-trove.

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  8. When I first saw the title of your post I thought it was going to be about some people's perceptions of second hand stores as being "gross". That's why I don't always share my love of thrifting with people, but if they ask where I got something, I'll tell them if it's from GW. I love the deals I've scored there!

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  9. I never hesitate to share where I get my clothing and/or accessories. As a woman who has been plus-sized her entire life, I know how hard it is to find fashionable, affordable clothes. When someone shares an interest in something that I wore, I use that opportunity to share where I found it, how much I got it for, and any and all tips to save even more money. I do not feel the need to keep anything a secret. Finding clothes that fit our tastes, bodies and budget is hard enough as it is, unfortunately.

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  10. Bleh..I think something happened to my comment, so apologies if this gets posted twice.

    When I first read the title of this post I thought it was going to be about some people's perceptions of second hand stores being "gross". I don't always share my love of thrifting with people because of that but if they ask where I got something, I'll share if it's from GW. I love my thrift finds!

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  11. Great post. I think that in true thrifting spirit sharing is important; my rationale is to reinforce the environmental benefits of "reuse and recycle". Also, it is so much fun to see the reaction on someones face when I tell them I shop at thrift stores!

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  12. A friend I have lost touch with, used to always have pet names for the stores: Sally's Boutique for Salvation Army store, etc. We knew what she meant, but any strangers listening didn't know!

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  13. Like you, I freely share my favorite thrift shops. We're all looking for different sizes and styles, so what's the big deal? I'll even take friends and family there myself.... They are usually out-of-towners, though!

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  14. So interesting! I always tell people where I shop.

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  15. I thrift and tell! I'm sort of a thrifting evangelist, actually. I prefer to shop alone at my own pace, but I often tell local friends about my best thrift store, which is one town over. Tastes, sizes, and even the days a person is likely to shop vary so much--so I figure that there's plenty for everyone.

    On the other hand, I sometimes choose not to tell someone who compliments me that I purchased the item secondhand. A huge proportion of my wardrobe is purchased secondhand, but in professional and certain other contexts, I may choose not to discuss it.

    Velma

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  16. I'm actually less inclined to tell people where I got something if it came from somewhere like Macy's and they could easily go get one of their own. I think it's the big sister in me that worries about other people copying my cool stuff. If I thrifted something I'm like, "Yeah, you can go there but you won't find this." And I do think there's enough cool stuff to go around. The best part of sharing the names and locations of thrift stores with friends is that they tend to think of you while they're at one of 'your' stores and sometimes pick up things for you too.

    When I shared the name of the store I go to most often with my friend she informed me that people online said this particular store was terrible. I thought that was really amusing because I always start my thrifting excursions at this store (Goodwill Woodland,CA) and sometimes it's the only store I get to go to because I spend all of my money there and have to go home. My first thought when I heard that others didn't like my lucky store was, "Good. More for me then." But after reading this post I'm wondering if those reviewers actually love the store and are sneakily trying to keep others away.

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  17. I don't live in a huge city anymore so only have a handful of thrift stores to choose from. I've never considered keeping it a secret. I only have a few other friends who share my love of thrifting. I used to live in L.A. and didn't thrift as much then as I do now. Oh, how I'd love to visit my old haunts there again!

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  18. I'm always happy enough to tell where I got my clothes, and I'll give specific shop names and addresses, if I'm asked. Given the nature of thrifting, I think you kind of have to accept that some perfect things are just going to get away from you, because somebody else got to the thrift shop first.

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  19. I keep them a secret. It's hard to find things in my size & we have a limited number of shops in this town.

    Altho this week I did Share my HUGE FIND - it was from this little forgotten about thrift shop behind a main st. I rarely get there because they have odd business hours.

    It's a black velvet just above the knee women's suit coat. I only pulled it cuz it had a Gantos label in it, my favorite store when I was in my early 20's. So I tried it on The ORIGINAL price tag is still on the sleeve it was $149.00 - This shop had it marked at $6.98. and Winter clothing was half off. so I got it for $3.49. That's a saving of $145.51 dollars saved. How could I NOT buy it and tell EVERYONE?! In this area it's a VERY rare find.

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  20. I do share the names of my haunts...for whatever it is worth to the asker. Even if the asker knows, it does not mean that they will find something similarly wonderful in the same store. Becoming an accomplished thrifter requires hours of work and it's never really as simple as shopping the same store.

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  21. I also do more consignment store shopping and deep discount shopping, but I never have a problem telling friends where I shop. Especially here in Dallas, where we have a wealth of shops and resources. My take is similar to yours: we all have different sizes, budgets and tastes! I will admit that it has killed me to stalk a bag or a great pair of boots only to have them bought up when I finally get the nerve and money to purchase! Shucks!

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  22. I have a hard time when telling it's the "cute little old lady" thrift stores. Already I've seen the prices for vintage kitchen (Fire King and Pyrex) go up as they see a demand...and it's harder to find stuff in them then before. The clothes seems to be plentiful everywhere, I agree with you there, but it's the other stuff that I'm worried about. It's probably silly, because both stores are very popular and you're right, it's fun to share.

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  23. Thanks for posting this! I'm going thrifting with my friend tomorrow and I was feeling a little selfish about it...

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  24. I gladly share my thrifting spots. Publicly, on my blog even. But Fayetteville, is not Dallas. There are only 5 or 6 thrift stores in town so it's not like any of them are a secret.

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  25. I laughed when I saw this because I had been thinking of emailing you to ask a few questions about Dallas area thrift stores but didn't know how you felt about sharing. Guess I know now!
    I always tell where I bought something, I don't mind sharing and am not ashamed to thrift. I find that most people I know don't have the patience for thrifting. My boyfriend's mother thinks thrifting is gross so I take particular delight in letting her know how much of her grandchildren's wardrobe is secondhand.

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