Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Hand Shopping

I have been able to find some diamond pieces amongst the coals in second hand shops. I like to find the brand new items that have been purchased direct from retail locations and also quality clothing that is in excellent condition.

When retailers need to make space in their stores for the next season's clothing line they try sales and clearances. Another option retailers use to clear the items out of their store is to offer them at a significant bulk discount. The quantity and low cost is then snatched up by buyers from second hand shops. You may be thinking but how can I look in style if I'm wearing the previous season's clothing? Well, think about it, for example, jeans change slightly from fall to winter season but not enough to notice if you bought them at the full price retailer in fall season or at a fraction of the cost at a second hand shop during winter. Sometimes second hand shops will also buy extra pieces direct from manufacturers for overruns from production of a style.

Here are some signs to look for that indicate if an item has been purchased brand new [by the second hand shop owner] from a retailer/manufacturer: there are several sizes of the same item in the store, tags and labels are a match, no sign of wear.

If you see the same style appearing in different sizes in the store chances are they bought them up for a bulk discount. I've even seen where the same style is clustered together so you can easily find your size in the bunch. This is a sign that they've gotten the styles straight from the retailer/manufacturer in brand new condition.

Another clue, think about a retail store that you like to shop and what brands they sell there. If you find the brand you like in a second hand shop and there are original retailer tags still on the garment, you may have found a match. Sometimes this can be difficult to find as certain retailers will insist their tags are removed from the clothing by the second hand shop. This is to ensure that you don't catch on to where you can get their clothing at a significant discount and will thus keep you returning to their retail stores paying premium prices for your favorite brand(s). Most new garments however will still have the original brand labels still on the garment. If the label is for a brand that you recognize for quality then you're on the right track.

Lastly, look for signs of wear on the garments. For example, look at your own closet, look through your pants, shirts, shoes, socks, etc. How can you tell that you've worn these before? Look at the waistband and belt loops on your pants and/or skirts. Can you see where it has been rubbed by other surfaces (i.e. shirt worn tucked in, belt, underpants, etc.). Another area to check is the bottom of pants on the leg hems. Look to see how the edges have been worn from wear. On shirts, you also want to check the neck/collar, sleeve hems and underarms. These areas will also show signs of wear from rubbing especially if you see fraying, pilling, discoloration and more. On shoes, check the soles, are there any signs of dirt or markings or do they look like they've never touched the ground? Are the original shoe laces still there. Do the insides of the shoes show wear especially at the heel. For hats analyze the inside where the head/hair would have rubbed against the hat. If you can't find any signs of wear while thoroughly examining the item that you're interested in buying at the second hand shop than chances are its brand new.

You may have found slight signs of wear but let's stay that you still really like the garment. Make sure you check a few things first. Carefully look all over the garment for any stains, marks or discoloration. Are all the original buttons there and securely attached? Does the zipper work? Are there any holes, including the pocket bags? Are there any tears in the fabric or along any of the hems where the stitching is? Are there any loose threads? Make sure that you turn the garment inside out so you can thoroughly examine the garment, including construction, on the inside. Are all the seams finished? Is the garment lined, if so what is the condition of the lining? Does it have any embellishments like sequins or embroidery? Take a close look to make sure everything looks all right in the details. If it is a print does the print match up at the side seams? Really take your time to evaluate the quality and condition of the article that you want to purchase. Sometimes you may find an item that was worn only once or twice by an individual that was never worn again so they donated it to the thrift store. Think about it, don't we all have some of those clothing and accessories in our closets that are there but we never wear? I'd encourage you to go through your closets once a year and get rid of those items that you don't wear any more, for whatever reason (i.e. doesn't fit anymore, not in current style, didn't look good once you got home from the store, etc.). Keep the recycling going!

Oh, one more thing, sometimes I have found that people assume if it is at a thrift store that it must be selling less than at retailers. Make sure you're aware of the current regular retail selling price of items that you want to add to your wardrobe. So hopefully these tips of what to look for while you're shopping at second hand shops will guide you to finding brand new and excellent condition clothing which is sold at a fraction of the cost! You want to make sure that you are getting a value steal after all at second hand shops! Happy bargain hunting!

Next week I'll write about effective wardrobe planning!

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