Thrift trip treasures: An expert’s guide to finding hidden thrift store gems

By Gianna Roux, Intern

Photo credit: Gianna Roux

Four years ago, my mom and I were digging through bins in the basement, when we found some of her old college clothes. That was the day that I decided to reimagine my style. Since then I have been wearing her vintage Levi’s, floral sun dresses, and tank tops that are literally straight out of the ‘90s. I started to frequently shop at thrift stores in order to repurpose clothes that look just like the pieces my mom gifted to me. To newcomers, thrift stores can be intimidating, but as I’ve gained more experience from going to local thrift stores, I have learned the importance of utilizing every section possible.

You may find that going to one section fits your style more than others, but don’t miss out on what every section has to offer. Not only have I found cute tops and y2k jeans in the women’s section, but I have also come by my favorite flannels and cargo pants in the men’s section. Some areas of the store may even surprise you by what you can find. I have seen some adorable baby tees in the kids’ section, and I never skip over the wide variety of shoes thrift stores have to offer. 

Thrift stores are full of one-of-a-kind treasures. I’ve found that bringing a friend along is a must because another set of eyes is always helpful when picking out the right pieces. In previous years, I would only go to the men’s section to find jeans that were right for me, but with guidance from one of my friends, I discovered some adorable bootcut jeans in the women’s section. 

Every thrift store carries a unique selection, and some are better for finding specific items. I have noticed that Plato’s Closet has the best selection of name-brand pieces. The Salvation Army has the widest selection of all types of clothes, and Value World has a great selection of non-clothing items. Aside from clothes, I have also found jewelry, books, and even gifted my friend a wallet that was special to her and fit her personality. 

Shying away from going to other stores is a rookie mistake. If the selection in one store is not great, don’t stop searching. Leaving a thrift store feeling unfilled with my findings is definitely a letdown, but I know that there are at least two other places in the area with tons more options. This has led me to never feel guilty when I leave a thrift store, and I can leave with a bag full of clothes, spending under $50 most of the time. I also enjoy visiting thrift stores whenever I travel to new areas. When I visit family out of town, I always go to their local Goodwill. Style isn’t subjective to just one city, so I like to expand my closet by seeing the different clothes I can find outside of my usual spots.

Although there are many benefits to thrifting, my favorite part is the history behind each item I buy. I’m able to reuse someone else’s clothes to fit into my style, and this makes the experience feel more personal. I know that I can walk down the school halls and wear something that no one else has on. Over the years, I’ve greatly expanded my closet, and I cherish every item because I know that each piece comes with a memory from the past.