Monday, May 11, 2009

A Plea From an Occasional Thrift Store Shopper

Friday I wrote about needing to put together some outfits for Spring weather. I didn't get a chance this weekend to really go through my closet properly, however, I did take a little time while doing laundry to assemble a few outfits. I decided not to worry about ironing too much for now, and just concentrate on putting together some quick easy business outfits. I can iron whatever pieces I need to on the morning of. All total I was able to make 8 outfits, which works out to two weeks of work. (Fridays are jean days.) That should keep me going for awhile.

Speaking of which, Saturday I was out running errands with a friend when they asked if we could swing into a particular thrift store. I was willing, I always like poking through those kinds of stores! It turned out that all women's tops were 50% off. I sorted through the racks and was able to find two really nice light weight summer shirts. One was from the Gap and the other was Liz Claiborne. They turned out to be $1.00 a piece! Both will be be sharp under a jacket for work, so it was an easy way to expand my wardrobe a little. I did notice one thing about going through those racks, however...

A lot, if not most, of the clothing had small stains or tears. Now this might have been because they were having a sale and just like a regular store, the good stuff goes fast. But I have to say, the racks were pretty full and I was really disappointed in how much of it was damaged.

A few years ago I used the Flylady system for organizing. When it came to donated items she always said that if it wasn't something you would give to a friend, throw it in the trash wear it belongs. (Or as I like to do, turn it into cleaning rags.) Thrift store workers cannot be expected to sort through every item. Many of the workers are volunteers and even if they made that a full time job, what are they supposed to do? Throw things out because you can't bear to? That "lucky" green polo shirt with the mustard stain on collar is only valuable to you because you remember wearing it when you were on the winning team. No one else wants it. You want a good use for it? Use it to clean out under the sink and save on some paper towels.

I understand the urge - I have been there myself. I've held up a perfectly wearable pair of paints with just a tiny hole in the knee. They are wearable, heck, I've worn them. If someone didn't have any clothes at all, they would be a real improvement. But see, there is the rub. If you are donating them to a charity that has a thrift store, the item is going to be sold, not given to someone with nothing. The money then goes back into supporting the store and into the charity's programs.

I think donating to thrift sores is a great way clear out the closet! It is tax deductible and it goes to support a good cause, but before you throw it in that donation box, think to yourself, is this something I would buy?

Photo by: an0nym0n0us


Frugalchick said...

I am a big rag-maker! Especially soft tees and even cashmere sweaters--it only takes a few minutes to cut up your old garments into rags and it sure beats buying paper towels at the store.

Also, if you want to keep thrifting clothing, try to find a thrift shop in your area that has a good clothing section. All the different shops around here seem to have their own specialty. One of my favorites is pretty meticulous with their clothing section--everything is neat, clean, and organized. This way, I can almost shop as if I were in a regular store yet skip out with much more money in my wallet.

Gen said...

I hate dusting with those rags, but I still save old shirts -- they make great braided rugs. Admittedly cotton braided rugs don't last as long as wool braided rugs, but I have a braided rug made out of old T-shirts and polos right next to my desk that's going strong four years after I made it. And every time I look at the coral stripe, I get to think about that shirt I loved in college.

Dawn said...

Frugalchick - I like to put all my old clothes in my "rag closet." I have a shelf where I store old towel and beat up clothes. I love them for dirty projects like painting or cleaning up nasty messes. Depending on how bad they get, I can just throw them out! Or, if they aren't too bad, I just wash and reuse.

You are right about finding the right store. I like this one because it has quirky home goods frequently, but they may not be the best place to shop for clothing.

Gen - I would love to learn how to make those rugs!! That would be really fun.