The Nerd’s Guide to Thrifting, Part III: Try to thrift in regions or cities that have retail stores you like.

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Try to thrift in regions or cities that have retail stores that you like.

Simply put, if you don’t live anywhere near a mall that has a J. Crew and it’s is your favorite brand, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find much J. Crew at your local Goodwill. Yes, people do order online more these days, but–I lack the data to back my conviction here, but you can test it for yourself if you haven’t already!–the probability of finding brands at thrift stores that aren’t sold locally seems to be relatively low, especially if they’re obscure, small, or new brands. Also keep in mind that if your style doesn’t generally fit with the style of your chosen area of residence, you’re also less likely to find pieces you’ll love (for example, living in the Southwest for five years surrounded by bolo ties, shabby chic, and bright pops of Mexican color, while certainly beautiful, just wasn’t for me).

How to deal with it:

  • Obviously, you can make pilgrimages to big cities with better retail options–and thus better thrifting–or make time during vacations to sneak in some thrifting in world-class destinations.
  • Try out some online consignment. I am a longtime ThredUP user–I have lots of experience with both buying and selling–and though I’m not 100% in love with every aspect of ThredUP, I think they are by far the easiest and simplest online consignment option, and they seem committed to making continual improvements to their platform, services, and offerings. I can’t speak as much to the other options such as Ebay and Poshmark, but I have purchased from them a few times with generally good results.
  • If you don’t like or have access to either of these options, you’ve probably already found retail brands you like. Ultimately, what we’re looking for is a closet full of clothes we will love and wear for as long as they fit or fall apart. If you’ve been thrifting for a long time and just don’t ever seem to have much success, especially if you’re caught up in the churn of thrifting items one week, only to donate them back soon after (I call this ‘renting,’ and it’s not always a bad thing–I have an article about that in the works that I’ll be posting soon!) then maybe it’s time to admit that thrifting just isn’t your best path to a wardrobe that makes you happy.

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