Monday, April 25, 2011

Thrift Shopping at Value Village: This Spring Your Wardrobe Can Be on Trend and on Budget

Many people find themselves reluctant faced with the idea of thrift shopping, but this fashion segment can be very rewarding. Thrift shopping is not only about merchandise at low prices, but it’s also about great and unique style, a style that can make you stand out of the crowd, a style that won’t be copied by anybody else.

When we say thrift shopping in North America, the first place that comes to our mind is Value Village. Debbie Wright is a style expert at Value Village, as well a fashion stylist and confidence builder at Project Closet, a fashion consultancy company. I had the pleasure of interviewing Debbie, and in the following she is going to share with us some great tips and ideas on thrift shopping.

Victoria West: How long have you been in this business?

Debbie Wright: I have been in the fashion/wardrobe business for over 25 years; I established my fashion consulting business, Project Closet, in 1997.

VW: How do you acquire and select the merchandise for the store? Do you follow a specific guidance when selecting the merchandise?

DW: Every Value Village store has a nonprofit partner, and those partners ask people in the community to donate gently used items. Value Village pays the nonprofit partners for everything donated to the store. Then, Value Village team members sort through every item and only the highest quality reusable items make it to the floor. Each Value Village has over 100,000 items on the floor at any given time, and they go through roughly 5,000 items every day.

VW: Do people find shopping in a thrift store overwhelming? If yes, what makes them reluctant in becoming Value Village customers?

DW: I do hear from time to time that many people find thrift shopping overwhelming due to the large amount of inventory and selection. Value Village merchandises their inventory by category i.e. jackets, then by size. Merchandising this way makes it easier for the shopper to find great fashion pieces.

I also recommend my THRIFT SHOPPING 101 strategy:

First, shop by choosing a category. For example, jackets. Once in jackets, comb through the different types. Think about what you need a jacket for; meaning do you need a nice blazer for work, a denim jacket to go with a cute dress you just got, or a warm outdoor jacket.

Second, remember that vintage sizes are different. When you are thrift shopping make sure to look at sizes above and below what you normally wear. You might just find a great vintage Chanel piece that is labeled as two sizes too big, but that fits you because of the vintage sizing.

Third, try not to get overwhelmed. Thrift stores, especially Value Village stores, have a lot of merchandise to look through. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes you can easily change out of.

Finally, keep your eyes open and try on everything. Thrift stores are a creative person’s dream. You have to be willing to try on anything and everything that looks semi-interesting. Let’s say you find a great purple shirt, but it’s a purple you normally wouldn’t wear. You’re reluctant to even try it on, but then you do and you can’t imagine your life without it.

VW: Once they had their first shopping experience at Value Village, do customers tend to come back?

DW: Absolutely, shoppers become addicted to the “hunt.” Thrift shopping is one of the most EXCITING ways to shop. You never know what treasure awaits you at any of the Value Village stores. They add tons of new merchandise to the floor daily. Most customers can’t drive by a store without stopping in to take a quick peak and they LOVE to talk about their finds.

VW: What are the greatest advantages of thrift shopping, aside from the low cost of the merchandise? Why would a fashion consumer become a constant Value Village customer?

DW: There are many advantages of thrift shopping. Having great style does NOT have to cost a lot of money. When you thrift shop, you have an opportunity to shop for high quality classic items like trench coats, black skirts, white blouses and wrap dresses as well as many unique pieces from vintage jewelry to designer shoes. Your style should express your personality and thrift store shopping finds are endless. The styles found often at the malls are all the same. Thrift opens up an avenue of flair and creativity.

VW: Do you shop at Value Village? If yes, can you give us a few examples of some of your greatest finds?

DW: I shop weekly at many of my local Savers stores. Value Village is owned by Savers, Inc. and the stores in most of the US are called Savers. I have found Marc Jacobs classic pumps that were under $30, Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, and Vintage Chanel handbags. Most recently, I found a David Meister dress and it's perfect for a Kentucky Derby Show I have – it was only $12.99. I have also found many pairs of designer brand jeans like Citizens of Humanity, and Sevens for All Mankind for $39.99.

VW: Can you share tips on how to build a great style with what Value Village has to offer?

DW: You can stay on trend shopping thrift and I recommend “Making Your Own Mannequin”. When you shop bring pictures of outfits and looks from your favorite, current fashion magazines. They can often be duplicated shopping thrift for much less money.

We also recommend shopping with specific items in mind, for example two new pairs of updated jeans for your wardrobe. Find a pair that fits and flatters your shape today. Choose one darker wash denim that can be dressed up or down and should be a little longer to accommodate a heel. The other pair should be lighter and long enough to wear with flats. Value Village offers a wonderful versatility in your closet.


  1. Interesant subiectul de astazi. Sper sa nu te superi ca iti scriu in romana.

    In teorie, magazinele astea au avantajele lor. In practica, lucrurile nu stau chiar la fel :)

    Sunt persoane, atat din Romania, cat si din SUA si Canada, ale caror bloguri le urmaresc, care gasesc adevarate comori in aceste magazine. Piese de designer, in stare foarte buna si la preturi foarte mici. Lucky them!

    Eu inca n-am descoperit astfel de locuri si nici nu trag sperante prea mari. Poate prin orase gen New York....

    Chiar de curand am fost la Value Village. Mi s-a pus mie pata sa ma apuc de vandut haine pe Ebay. Usor de zis, mai greu de realizat :) In primul rand, pentru asta am nevoie de piese de designer, ca asta se cauta. Pentru asta trebuie sa ajung la magazin de dimineata, cand incep sa puna marfa pe umerase, ca dupa ora 10 sosesc cumparatorii si dispar toate hainele bune. Haine buna insemnand Forever 21, H&M si alte chestii de genul asta. N-am vazut picior de Chanel sau Dior prin magazinele astea. Daca exista ceva bun, cu siguranta nu ajunge la gramada cu celelalte, pe umerase. Daca se intampla, categoric e din cauza ca personalul nu a fost suficient de atent.

    Nu! Hainele si accesoriile de designer au un loc special, la casa, pe rafturi, de unde nu le poti vedea prea bine. Si bineinteles ca si preturile sunt pe masura, uneori chiar nejustificat de mari pentru produse folosite.

    Americanii nu sunt tocmai cei mai atenti din lume cand vine vorba de intretinerea hainelor. Ce a zis doamna de mai sus, cu 'gently used' si 'only the highest quality' este bullshit, cu scuzele de rigoare. Sunt sute de haine patate, decolorate, in niciun caz purtabile.Din cate stiu eu in Romania, cand e vorba de haine second-hand, legile impun anumite conditii, respectiv dezinfectarea lor, sau ceva de genul asta. Aici ma indoiesc ca exista reguli.

    In continuare, trebuie sa zic ca nu imi face o deosebita placere sa scormonesc printre haine purtate de cine stie ce 'slobs', dar daca "afacerea" merge o sa fac un efort :)

    Uitasem sa zic cum a decurs experienta mea. Am gasit o bluza Michael Kors, nu cine stie ce model, la vreo 3 dolari si am pus-o la vanzare pe Ebay fara asteptari prea mari. Am avut 14 dolari profit pe ea, deci ma declar multumita :)

    Am inteles ca ar fi in Atlanta un magazin care vinde exclusiv haine de designer 'gently used', asa ca acela va fi urmatoarea mea destinatie, cu speranta ca va merita efortul :)

  2. Bineinteles ca nu ma supar ca scrii in romana, scrie cum iti place, nu ma deranjeaza.

    Sunt si in Toronto magazine Value Village. Am fost si eu o data, dar nici eu n-am gasit piese designer, poate si din cauza ca n-am avut prea mult timp la dispozitie.

    Nu neg ca posibilitatea de a gasi piese exceptionale (ca model, creator) la Value Village si alte magazine de profil este mare; dar in acelasi timp stiu ca nu toti au rabdarea necesara pentru acest "tresure hunting".

  3. I love thrifting! I haven't had Americanca's experience, fortunately. Here I found quite a few nice clothes, in good condition, some of them even brand new. A BCBG bag (I wore it until it tore :)), a gorgeous Italian bag (new), a Liz Claiborne dress (new), a beautiful emerald green jacket (new - doesn't fit me, but hope never dies :)), several cute tops, new shoes, an elegant burgundy leather suitcase, books and lots of stuff for the house. I also have a thing for men's shirts, I like to wear them around the house, and I got a few designer ones, like new.
    I haven't gone in while, but this post made me miss a thrift store tour!

  4. Thank you Cat for your comment, I'm so glad you liked the article. And those are really great finds, good for you. :)

    I once bought books from Value Village as well. When I saw the book shelf, I said, waw, that's nice! The small paperbacks were $2 each (in bookstores usually $10), and the medium paperbacks $4 each (in bookstores usually $13-$20). So I bought 5 books. :)) I would have bought even more, but not all the titles were interesting. :)


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