This is a kind of lexicon or dictionary for especially for those of you stepping into shopping resale, vintage, second-hand, etc.
As those of you who read this blog somewhat regularly know, except for shoes, I don’t usually shop retail. I really have everything I need (well maybe not enough fancy underwear) so my forays shopping tend to be somewhat social events with my sisters or mom at the bodacious resale stores in the Chicago-land area.
I find for myself, my style and budget, that shopping second hand or vintage makes sense. Plus, I do love vintage clothing and find the craftsmanship and sewing to be superb, even if I don’t have much call these days for party dresses and suits.
I wrote a little about my shopping genealogy in “Cheep, Cheap” in April but I’ll want to call your attention to a couple of things. Americans throw away a whopping 60 pounds of clothing on average every year and recycle 10 pounds. Much of the “recycled” clothing goes on to be sold in African countries, which might sound like a great idea. But what you might not know, and what many articles don’t tell you, is that this “recycling” undercuts traditional textile industries and jobs in places that can ill afford this effect of globalization. These jobs once supported families and are being displaced by first-world cast-offs.
Plus, do we really want all of Africa dressed in American worn, Chinese made T-shirts? I kind of hope not.
If you want to learn more: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion)
and http://magazine.good.is/articles/ethical-style-where-do-my-used-clothes-go and
But I digress. Shopping secondhand keeps the at least some clothing circulating at home applying at least two of the three R’s in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle triangle. And can be the source for your personal style.
If you’re already shopping this way, good on you. Perhaps you’ve even taken the “second-hand first” pledge (http://www.thecitizenrosebud.com/p/blog-page.html) If you’ve not, perhaps this will help you give it a try. My disclaimers: I can’t begin to know what’s available in your area (especially you international gals) or the quality. Nor will I have the right “name” for the kinds of resale, thrift and second hand stores in your area. But I think you’ll get the idea.
This is part one of a two part post. I either got exceptionally wordy or there was a lot to say on the topic.
Garage and Estate Sales (basically individuals selling things)
What you’re likely to find – clothes can be very hit or miss. Estate sales in particular can have some lovely vintage buys but you’re likely to be competing with shop owners who haunt these. My favorite vintage finds have come from estate sales including vintage suits and two stunning silk dresses, hand tailored in Hong Kong. Judith over at Style Crone keeps a incredible store of vintage clothing and hats which she wears with aplomb, and quite a few things are from estate sales.
Garage sales on the other hand, tend to feature more contemporary or current clothing, the last stop before donation. Sizing all depends on who’s throwing the garage sale. However, if you’ve got kids, garage sales can be a great way to clothe your children.
Prices: You’ll probably find the least expensive prices at a garage sale, followed by an estate sale. That said, estate sales can be spendy especially if the seller is using a reputable agent who knows their merchandise.
One-off rummage or jumble sales
These are generally sponsored by churches, schools or community groups and may occur once or twice a year.
What you’re likely to find: Some of these are specifically geared towards clothing generally children’s clothes, others are wide ranging with items from garden equipment to housewares to clothing. Clothes tend to be of more recent construction, even trendy.
Prices: Bargains may be had especially on the last day of the sale. While selection is more limited, prices may be slashed by 50% or more. Overall pricing is fair and you can find some great bargains.
“Chain” owned or operated resale and charity shops – large (for example, Goodwill, Value Village, Oxfam. Note not all of these are “charity” or nonprofit shops)
What you’re likely to find: These shops are “curated” to some degree in that donations are sorted and obviously worn or tattered clothing is not put out. In addition, there’s considerable turnover in merchandise. These shops tend to carry more recent fashions in a variety of sizes. Brands are quite variable. I have found my best “buys” at larger stores in the Chicago-area but I also picked up a fabulous leather jacket for $25 at my local Goodwill.
Location of these stores seems to have some bearing on what they carry. The downtown Goodwill in Portland has much more chi-chi merchandise (and prices) than my local neighborhood store.
Prices: Quite variable. I’m finding my local Goodwill to be quite expensive relative to the quality but bargains can be found. Further, many of these shops have discount days – certain color tagged items may be 25 – 50% off.
Locally owned or operated resale and charity shops – small or independent
What you’re likely to find: In some ways these shops are very similar to the large resale and charity shops in terms of quality and types of merchandise. But if they are locally owned and are dependent on local donations you might find the stock quality to be more, or less. The shops in an upscale areas, like the suburb my mom lives in, tend to have pretty solid merchandise.
Prices: Like the chain resale stores, prices can be quite variable. And like their chain counterparts many of these shops have discount days – certain color tagged items may be 25 – 50% off.
Next time, consignment, vintage and more. Plus my personal tips.