18 June 2013

"Where do you find this stuff?"

I get asked that questions a lot, right a long with requests for the detailed locations, complete with driving directions, of my favorite thrift shops. But I never tell.
There's an old rule among inveterate thrift shoppers that you never give up your best spots, because once you do, they get mined to death. Its a rule I still abide, and I realize that it tends to drive some of you mad. I get accused of hogging all the good stuff. But truthfully, that old rule is pointless these days. My continued adherence to it is sheer nostalgia. You see, in the old days, thrift stores were found through hard work and luck. You stumbled on them, mostly. And when you found one, nobody else knew. Those days are gone.

Yesterday, I hauled three big bags from three different stores, two of which I'd never heard of before. I found them using Google on a smart phone. Its that easy. There are even websites with directories on them where you only need the zip code or name of the town to find them. My adherence to an archaic rule may be silly, but so is asking me to hold your hand in finding these places. Its nothing short of a luxury to live in the information age, and I'm just old enough to remember what it was like before.

No, its not just because I know where these places are or how to find new ones that I do so well. It's about perseverance. Besides finding and visiting new stores yesterday, I also spent all morning in the highway far from home driving to them. I did this not knowing whether I'd find anything. Fortunately, I did, but I might just as easily have struck out. Good thing I enjoy the hunt almost as much as the kill. It simply does not work if you only pop into some place, and only one place, every now and again. You have to be crazy enough to give it a lot of your time. 

So that's "where I find this stuff". I hope this didn't come off all sour grapes, because that wasn't my intention. But seriously, begging me to tell you where the good thrift stores are and believing that if I don't you'll never find them is a silly as saying you'll never eat again unless I point you to the nearest pizza joint.

You gotta do your own homework.


Tobias said...

They have an app for that. It's called "Thrift Buddy"

Unknown said...

Here, here!

Anonymous said...

I understand you not mentioning your hot spots for clothing but do you frequent any other types of places besides thrift stores to get the good stuff?
St. Louis, Mo

Joe said...


Truth be told, not really. I'm kind of spoiled that way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Guiseppe for an answer. I'm just a novice compared to you but I have noticed as I frequent different thrift stores some are really great for good suit finds, some are hot spots for ties, some shirts...they all have subtle differences so you have to make the rounds!
-good hunting
Bob, St. Louis, Mo

Bryce said...

"I hope this didn't come off all sour grapes, because that wasn't my intention."

Come come now, without sour grapes this blog would only be about clothing.

Anonymous said...

Never, ever give up the locations!
That is the cardinal thrifting rule! Let 'em work just as hard to get the good stuff because nobody rides for free! I know that sounds bad and selfish but thrifting is hard work...especially if you supplement your income this way.

For me, what was once a way to get better stuff to look more polished has become a means of making some extra money.

I think thrifting is more than just locations...it's knowing brands, knowing quality, knowing "what to look for". Being able to look a piece over and evaluate it for flaws and potential expenses (alterations, cobbler work, etc.

Being able to be resourceful on what I can fix myself has really helped me appreciate vintage things more...especially from an environmental standpoint.

Just as you mentioned, becoming good at thrifting is something that one must develop over time and much perserverence.

The technology that you discuss is interesting. It might widen my radius by potentially adding more hot spots when I am making my rounds. Thanks for this post!

Anasazi said...

On the other hand, I have made it a point to tell other people as soon as I find a great thrift store. I blog about it at Thrift Store Preppy (http://thriftstorepreppy.com). I started my blog when the last recession began. I wanted to show other people that it was possible to build an entire wardrobe with thrift finds. It just made sense to mention the stores and to compare them as to quality. I didn't think that all of a sudden I wouldn't be able to find my size -- or that quality clothes would suddenly be difficult to find. As I see it, we're all in this together. There are plenty of used clothes to go around.