By: Morin Mawhinney

As we are filing back into the halls of UPEI from a long Holiday break, there are two problems most of us are facing: we are broke from buying all our loved ones Christmas presents, and we are broke from paying January tuition. To help budget your lives as you get back into the swing of things, I recommend becoming acquainted with stores like Value Village, Repeats, and Bibles for Missions. However, thrift stores are often daunting with their endless aisles and overwhelming selection. To help make your thrift experience more chill, I’ve compiled some quick tips to help you better your bargain hunting skills.


  1. Your Trash Helps Buy a Treasure:  Since you’re already saving money by buying second hand, why not heckle a little more and become a full on couponer? Clean out your closet, kitchen, and garage. I guarantee you will find loads of items you will NEVER USE AGAIN. Throw them in a bag and take advantage of Value Village’s rewards system: when you drop off bags of used items, you’ll receive coupons for up to 50% off your purchase. It’s a Win-Win situation!
  2. Choose Your Method: When it comes to a place like Value Village, trying to find the perfect shirt can be overwhelming so you can deploy one of two methods. The first is for a quick shopping trip; I call it “The Crow.” You fly over the racks snatching up only the items that catch your eye from above AKA you like that pattern or that material looks nice. This can speed up your shopping, but it means you might pass by a hidden gem. Therefore, you use the second method, “The King Crab.” This is where you methodically pick through every shirt, pant and skirt to find the meatiest morsels for your closet. This is time-consuming, but it almost always ensures success.
  3. Let it Happen: The biggest mistake you can make when going into a thrift store is to have one thing, and one thing only, in mind to buy. Second-hand stores are economical and fun, but they don’t have a niche market or “the next size up, please.” If you go in looking for a pair of dark wash, lightly ripped, bootcut jeans, it’s likely they won’t have exactly what you were picturing, and you’ll leave frustrated.To effectively thrift shop, wait until you have a list of three or four items so you can peruse the aisles, letting the perfect items of clothing find you. Open your horizons and allow the thrift store to take you. P.S This isn’t a horoscope.
  4. TRY IT ALL: If you take anything away from this article, take this: since thrift stores are not consistent in size or fit, if you like it, try it on. More than likely, half of the pieces won’t fit or you just won’t like them. That button down risk you were afraid of taking, however, might just be the shirt you end up taking home because it looked SO DAMN GOOD.
  5. Go Back Like a Bad Plate of Clams: Finally, if you do have a specific item on your mind, don’t give up the first time you go. The most successful thrift shoppers know how to wait. They know that sooner or later the circle of life will bring them an incredible deal on whatever they are waiting for. Most thrift stores put out new items daily, so it’s always an adventure.

I understand it can be weird to strut around in what used to be someone else’s pants; you literally have no idea what they’ve been through. Then again, you’re bringing a lot of emotional baggage to the relationship too, so try something new, give those jeans a wash and don’t judge too hard.

photo credit: Hipster Kidz Media