Hi, Jared here, and it’s time for Thrifty Thursdays. Now of course, living thrifty doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shop at thrift stores all the time. There are plenty of ways to save money that don’t involve sorting through racks of stinky clothes, separating pages stuck with gum in that book you thought you wanted, and laughing at the vintage VHS titles along the wall as you wait for the dressing room with your “three items or less.” But Cait and I love thrifting. It’s often rewarding, mildly dangerous, and even when we don’t find anything worth purchasing, the experience itself always provides some sort of amusement.
And really, as we look around our apartment, it’s clear we’ve accumulated some pretty awesome stuff over the last few years. So what’s the key? How does one wade through those sloughs of grimy junk to find something of true value?
Here’s my advice: Persistence, Patience, and Decisiveness.
Most people’s interest in thrifting never gets beyond the whole “ironic t-shirts and ugly sweaters” fad that strikes most of us in high school and lasts sometime into young adulthood. We walk into the store, try on a bunch of funny outfits, and walk out with whatever clever thing we found. But real thrifting – true treasure hunting – takes persistence and patience. You have to know what sorts of things are valuable to you; you have to visit thrift stores frequently enough to get an idea of the ebb and flow of quality products in the store; and then, when you come across that high-quality good you’ve been waiting for, you must snatch it up. Don’t hesitate. Don’t convince yourself it will be there until next week’s “discount day;” and don’t let that creepy lady watching you from the edge of the aisle sneak up and grab it as soon as you step away. Quality goods go fast at thrift stores. Get ‘em while the gettin’s good!
And remember, with thrifting, a little patience can go a long way. Retail stores are set up for instant gratification. You know what you want, you know where to find it, and you go get it (along with a bunch of other stuff you realized you needed along the way). But thrift shops are different. You don’t always know if they have what you need, so most of the time you just wait — sometimes days, sometimes months, sometimes a few years. And then, when it shows up, you happily pay the thrifty price and walk away. Well done!
So with that, here are some of our quality thrift store finds. Under each picture I’ll describe the product and briefly share the story about how it came to be ours:
My two sets of running shows have both come from the thrift store, and when I bought them they were basically unused. Aside from analyzing the general appearance, I always check the treads to see how much use they’ve seen. The Asics on the left have lasted me well over a year and are my primary running shoes. I bought the Sauconys last summer and wear them mostly as street shoes. Both sets of shoes have been great, but knowing that they probably won’t last much longer, I’ve always got my eyes peeled for that next great pair of almost-new shoes.
I bought these Vans snowboard boots three years ago, and when I went to take a picture of them this morning, the price was still visible on the bottom — $6.95. Wow! I only get to snowboard a few times a year so these are holding up quite well, and for that price, what more could you ask for?
You may be sensing a theme here…yes, my wife and I have obtained much of our outdoor gear from the thrift store. And this is what I mean by patience. We easily could run out to REI everytime we need something and pay top price for quality stuff. Or, we could patiently visit thrift stores, knowing what we need, and then rejoice at the reward of finding high-end stuff for rock-bottom prices. Both my wife’s and my winter boots have come from thrift stores. Caitlyn wears the Columbia boots on the left, and the Kamiks on the right are mine. We probably spent somewhere between $15 and $20 for each pair of boots, and if purchased at full price they each run near $100.
If you had to guess which pair of Salomon nordic ski boots belong to me and which belong to my wife, you’d probably be wrong. Cait wears the the yellow pair and I prance around the snow in my white and purple. The pair on the left are Caitlyn’s from before high school, and we had been sharing them for the duration of our marriage (which obviously meant we rarely got to ski together). Then, earlier this winter I came across the pair on the right for $15, and they honestly looked like they had never been used. A new pair of Salomon boots can run anywhere between $50 and $200, so I bought them without hesitation thinking Cait would wear them I would take the yellow pair, but she wasn’t easily parted with the boots she’d been wearing for years. Thus, the purple and white are mine and I couldn’t be happier =)
These cast-iron skillets might be my thrifting pride and joy. All of these came from the exact same thrift store. Every time we visit I take one quick stroll down the dish aisle scanning for cast-iron, and they’re becoming harder and harder to find. Do you know how expensive cast iron is? I don’t think I’ve paid any more than $6 or $7 for any of these, and with a little scrubbing and re-seasoning, they are as good as new.
Various other items around the apartment have come from the thrift store, but these are some of the obvious highlights. We’ll continue to keep you posted on great thrift finds as they come; and in the comment thread feel free to share your greatest thrifting successes, and we can all inspire each other to greater and greater thrifty living.