Friday, April 8, 2011

How Often Do You Buy?

When trying to convince people that thrift can result in awesome finds that are "brand new" through a thrift blog, people tend to imagine that I go thrifting all time.  Which in a way is correct, I do tend to go once a week, sometimes more.  I do not, however, thrift something every time I go thrifting.  More often than not I just wander and take things in, check out prices for comparison, and look for anything that might interest my readers or me. I don't believe in over-consumption, which is exactly why I try to encourage the thrift lifestyle.

 Due to thrifting often, I've needed to teach myself to resist buying every deal I dig. When I do find myself being tempted by material things, I ask myself two questions:

1) Do I need this? Now, if a person is being completely honest with themselves a lot of the time the answer to this question is no. So, then ask...

2) Will I regret not getting this? Once again, very easy to lie to ourselves. My way of testing this is by putting the item back down (not in the cart; back on the shelf...) and wandering around some more. If I practically have to remind myself of its existence before leaving, I don't need it. I already almost forgot about it; it's not unforgettable, Nat King Cole isn't singing on the stage of my mind. I can walk away.

I know that my boyfriend, Johnathan, asks himself:
3) Is this a rare deal, a.k.a, a steal?  Once again, one needs to be honest with themselves.When thrifting there will be several steals, that doesn't mean they need to be yours.

When I am in retail stores I try to avoid going through these questions. Even if it's the cutest thing ever I try and tell myself I don't need it.  A few of my exceptions are: undergarments, swimsuits, hygiene products or if I've received a gift card. Most of my shoes are thrifted, but on occasion I will buy boots or tennies brand new for reasons of comfort, and I wear them for years.

Other than that, most of my belongings from decor to clothing are secondhand. 

I've learned that some people find this shabby, but I just find it smart.  For one, I'm cutting back on wasteful consumption,wasteful packaging, wasteful spending, and, most importantly, I'm not supporting shallow American ideals I don't believe in. At the end of the day I'm saving a lot.

If you don't thrift, you would not believe the amount of fashionable (usually brand name) clothing I can get for the same price as one mall outfit.

Especially when it comes to kid's clothing, I don't get why on earth people waste so much money on mall clothes when the kid is going to outgrow the outfit so quickly and dirty it along the way. Why not save the money and buy "new" clothes at the thrift store? (I have a post next week that shares an adorable thrifted Gymboree dress I found).

Not to say the mall doesn't tempt me on occasion! Couple weeks ago when I went to the Mall of America with Andrea, I did fall for an outfit. But I forced myself to quickly gush about it, fold it nicely, and put it back. I just didn't need it, and I couldn't justify buying it (only that I would have looked mighty damn good in it...Lol!).

I've been rewarded for this in the past. I once really liked a black Forever 21 dress, except it was marked at $40 and it was only a plain cotton dress. Once again, I couldn't justify that so I walked away. Two weeks later I was in a Saint Vinnies, when right before me was that very black dress, new tags still on, MY SIZE, for just $2.50! I bought that dress 4 years ago, and I still wear it today. Love it! If that isn't a wise shopper reward, I don't know what is!

What we consume truly makes a difference, and I don't think many Americans acknowledge that. Luckily, the numbers for ecological and consumerist concern seem to be growing. I'm not extreme in believing people should give up everything and stop buying, I just believe that whenever possible we should respect what we've been given by reusing and recycling. It's too easy not to...

Patina shot, taken by me

Much of what I have thrifted and share on Charmstruck has been purchased over the years, not in one week.  I try to share more recent finds, but overall, I'm seriously not buying a whole ton these days.  It's relieving, because I will have extra money to pay off my college loans and travel.  I'd much rather travel and see the beauty of the world than own twenty pairs of pretty shoes I'll rarely wear. 

When I'm tempted, I try to keep that larger picture in mind.

Now, if a person is a reseller they can thrift all they want. In the future I may try my hand at reselling but for now, I just don't have the space for the inventory, and I'm not quite ready to take that on. Perhaps a corner in an antique mall would suit me someday. Either way, I'll advertise secondhand any day, whether I have my own goods to peddle or not.

How often do you thrift? Do you struggle with temptation? Do you try and avoid retail?

 I'd really love to hear your consumerist tactics!

If you'd like to read an amusing story about a girl and her crazed gotta-have-it moments (cause admit it, we all have 'em!), check out: Hiding, Stalking, Thrifting


  1. I like to thrift once a week if possible - for my sanity mostly. I can wander aimlessly for hours and leave a store spending nothing, but mostly I average about $5-$10. Retail is not for me nowadays. I'm enjoying my thrift experiment too much. I live a minimalist lifestyle when it comes to interior design, but I do love quality furniture - some new and some old. Thrifting is really cool. Everyone knows my clothes are from the GW and thus far, I haven't heard the word "shabby" yet. You are setting a great example for young consumers.

  2. With the clothes, it's funny - I get compliments on outfits all the time, but every now and then a girl will ask where I got something and when I say thrift, they make a disappointed face, like, "oh." This mentality of wanting things new and expensive is just silly. Stores have way more than people will ever consume...which makes it garbage, with a brand name and an ironic price tag.

    Your blog, a thrifty L.A. life, really emulates the "new" looks that can be had through thrifting. In my opinion, thrift fashionistas look far more beautiful than any abercrombie addict!

  3. I thrift about once a week as well, sometimes hitting multiple yard sales/stores in one day, but not thrifting tons from each place. I too often leave empty handed. Sometimes my posts look full of finds, but I typically sell this finds or give them to gifts as friends.

    I'm not allowed to thrift this weekend until I get all the items I need to sell into the antique store...

  4. Having a spot in an antique store really is helpful; it's something I plan on trying out in the future. I want to expand my love of thrift into other spheres, and having a shop spot really turns the thrift lifestyle into a fun profit.

    I like that you prepare the items you have before running out and purchasing probably really helps ensure that you're truly making a profit off of the thrift items you purchase...