Even before claiming the title of ‘Student’ on my tax forms, I was a big fan of going to both thrift shops and consignment stores. The majority of my clothes come from hours of scouring through these establishments.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a thrift shop is “a shop that sells secondhand articles and especially clothes and is often run for charitable purposes”; while a consignment store is defined as, “a store to which people bring items that they no longer want (such as old clothes, shoes, and equipment) to have them sold.” Basically, you get a fraction of the money once your old belongings are bought.

Thrift shops and consignment stores have great pros and few cons. Very first on the pros list is fair trade! Again, from Merriam-Webster, fair-trade is “a movement whose goal is to help producers in developing countries to get a fair price for their products so as to reduce poverty, provide for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promote environmentally sustainable practices.” Even in the United States, many clothing companies don’t participate in such practices. One way to help is to not support big business. So… go thrifting! Still as cheap, if not cheaper than buying from a store like Forever 21. Goodonyou.com, a reliable website to research the ethical practices of brands, said, “Forever 21 received an overall score of D+ from the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report—which looks at criteria including payment of a living wage, transparency, and worker empowerment initiatives. They do trace some of their supply chain and have a Supplier Code of Conduct, but that’s the only good news.”

Along with not supporting unethical businesses, thrifting keeps money in your wallet. Thrift/consignment stores are great alternatives for heavy spending with little yield. The same $49.95 cardigan from American Eagle will cost at most $7 from a thrift shop. One of my favorite things to do is find an item of clothing, look at the brand tag, and then look it up on my phone to see how much the original store would’ve priced it. With these searches I’ve discovered that I’ve bought a lot of limited-time clothes, and one jacket I bought was $13.99, while the original price was $60. From prom dresses to wallets, there’s no way you won’t save money. They keep clothes out of landfills and allow people to try different styles they may never have wanted to try before!

Here are some tips for shopping so you get the most bang out of your buck and style in your closet:

  1. Go to a high-end area because people tend to get rid of their higher quality clothes.
  2. Watch out for the seasons; people donate their clothes at the end of each one. With this in mind, go somewhere that continually cycles their clothes; that way, it’s harder to find the same things twice.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time. It’s rare you’ll go in and find something you want right away, so I suggest allotting at least 45 minutes. Most of the time when thrifting you can’t go in with a solid idea of what you want. It’s good to say, “Hey, I want a collared shirt” or, “I’m looking for a maxi-skirt.” Rough ideas work best here!
  4. Finally, if you go to a place like Savers, sign up for the email list. They’ll keep you updated on all the deals and upcoming sales. You can also get points and other perks.

My favorite thrift shop is Savers. They have locations all over the North and South Shores of Boston. Depending on the location, you’re able to find different specialties. Plymouth has great records and other non-clothing items, while the Hanover one has a wide selection of vintage clothes. A close second is The Garment District in Cambridge. It is a little pricey but keep in mind that it’s in Cambridge. Then, most consignment stores I’ve been to all have their niche items. I bought all my old prom dresses at a consignment store that only sold formal dresses—and all for an affordable price! Look up different stores in your perspective area, get out there, expand your style, and go thrifting!

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