If you are a student living on a tight budget you may be able to expand your wardrobe by shopping in thrift stores. You can buy a wide variety of clothing for very little money, and that might enable you to buy more of it. The clothing isn’t in bad condition either, and you can sometimes find top-of-the-line labels for just a few dollars.
If you’ve never shopped in thrift stores before, it is a bit of a different world from traditional retail. But that difference is what makes it so inexpensive.
Clothing on the cheap
Clothing at thrift stores usually sells for pennies on the dollar of what it costs to buy at a retail store. For example, you can typically buy pants or slacks for $4 – $5 a pair. Shirts and blouses can be as low as $3 – $4 each. You can also buy suits, coats, or just about any other article of clothing you can think of.
For just $20–the cost of a single shirt on sale at a mall department store–you can walk out of a thrift store with four, five or even six items. That will provide you with a lot more spending flexibility than you have if you buy all of your clothing at boutiques or in the mall.
The quality can be better than you thinkIf you haven’t spent much time shopping in thrift stores, the quality of the clothing can be better than you think. Thrift stores don’t sell junk, not the least of which because no one will buy it. What they mostly have in stock are gently used items. Sometimes you can find articles of clothing that have only been worn a few times. And sometimes you can even find clothes that are brand-new – they are still neatly pressed and the store labels are still on them.
Much of the clothing is of the designer label variety. In fact, that’s not even uncommon. Thrift stores are mostly stocked by donations of used goods and clothing and is often donated by well-to-do people who replace their clothing on a regular basis. They may have a designer label shirt that’s been worn half a dozen times and is in excellent condition. You can buy that shirt for $4, even though it cost original owner $40 to buy it.
It’s hit or miss, so shop often
One thing to keep in mind when buying at thrift stores is that it really is hit or miss. You may find what you are looking for, and you may not.
Most thrift have a layout pattern. Clothing is grouped by men, women, girls, and boys. Within each section are clothing types – pants, shirts, coats, etc. Within each section the articles of clothing are arranged by color. Each item in the section will be identically priced. For example, all items in the men’s shirt racks will be $4. There usually is no variation in price.
It will be extremely unlikely that they will have duplicate items. You may find an article that you really like but it won’t be in your size. Your best alternative will be to find an article that closely matches it. Since you can’t be guaranteed of the fit, it will be very difficult to go in with a certain item in mind.
The best way to get around this limitation is to plan to peruse one or more thrift shops two or three times each month. By browsing regularly you’ll find items that you want as they are available. Thrift store shopping is more casual, and less specific than shopping at the mall.
Use thrift stores to supplement your wardrobe
It won’t be possible to find everything you need in thrift stores, and as described above, it will be very difficult to find something specific. For this reason you probably won’t be able to rely entirely on thrift stores for your wardrobe. However, considering how much money you can save, thrift stores are an excellent way to supplement and expand your wardrobe without spending a lot of money.
There are also certain items of clothing that you may not want to buy thrift store. Shoes are one example, and undergarments are another. But you can buy certain items in retail stores and many others in thrift stores. That will enable you to have a large wardrobe without spending a lot of money.
More than just clothing
For the truly budget conscious student, thrift stores have more than just clothing. You can easily buy TVs and entertainment units, at prices that range anywhere from $10 – $50. These will not be late-model, top-of-the-line units, but they can serve you well while you’re in school and living on a budget.
Other items of interest include coffee makers, lamps, microwave ovens, bed linens and even furniture. These will generally be in no better than average condition, but you can buy them for far less than you would at a retail store. If you’re only looking for an item that you’ll need for a year or two, check out a thrift store before going to a retail store. The savings will more than justify the effort.
Have you ever bought clothing for yourself in a thrift store?