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Vintage Shopping- tips from a pro

Thrifting can be an enjoyable adventure but you need to go shopping well prepared. Here's some vintage shopping supply suggestions and safety tips that will make your trip flow better. The supplies will depend of what you're looking for and where you're shopping. 


Hand sanitizer and bandaids are so obvious that I'm not gonna explain either. 

Nail clipper. It's a necessity for me because I'm a 'tactile' shopper- I have to touch and feel EVERYthing, lol! A sharp fingernail or hangnail is a problem when handling silks and a broken fingernail is distracting. A small nail clipper is always in my purse or pocket; I've even used my clipper to free a mass of hopeless tangled yarn from other stuff at the 'bins'. 

Tape measure. Trust me, you'll want it sooner than later. I keep a shopping wishlist for myself and others on my iPhone. This has measurements for things windows, shelves, inseams, etc. 

Gloves or bare handed? If you're shopping at a regular retail thrift store you shouldn't need gloves unless you have very sensitive skin. Most large retail thrift stores fumigate their stuff with a chemical that shouldn't but could bother you. And if you're shopping where you're pawing thru masses of jumbled goods, you may want to consider gloves to protect yourself from glass, pins or worse. I often shop the Goodwill outlet store (the bins) where you shop like this. Personally I don't wear gloves but am neither squeamish OR a germaphobe. I sort slowly and methodically, feeling fabric while watching for dangerous stuff but I do occasionally get cuts. You'll be glad you have sanitizer and bandaids in your supplies.


Lightweight shopping bags. These are necessary to carry your stuff home, especially if you're in an area that prohibits plastic bags. If you carry a large bag or backpack, be prepared to prove you haven't stuffed it full of stolen goodies. Shopkeepers are suspicious and too often with good reason (another gem I learned at the school of hard knocks aka my skateshop).


Small flashlight? This is a lifesaver if you're somewhere with lousy lighting. You can't crawl in attics or see in old closets or basements without one. Your phone light will help but don't count on using it long enough if your battery is low.


Cash or card? Many sellers only take cash; no cards and especially no checks. Bring a variety of bills so you don't ask for a discount and then pull out a hundred dollar bill lol. But don't leave your plastic at home because portable card readers or 'send money apps' are easy and everywhere. Be prepared with plenty of ways to pay. You don't wanna miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because your money isn't what they want. Go ahead... ask me again how I know this stuff, lol. 

Stay Safe

Thrifting is big business and pays the rent (or buys whatever) for lots of people. This makes thrifting kinda cutthroat. Most people are honest but still... keep your eyes & ears open to what's going on around you. Pay close attention to your shopping cart because there are other people shopping alongside you THAT WILL try to steal from you and your cart. If you find your holy grail aka once-in-a-lifetime treasure you might wanna buy it and leave while you're ahead. If not, at least bury your treasure in your cart and watch it like a hawk. The shopping cart warning goes for your own personal stuff too- DON'T EVER put your personal belongings in a cart and ignore them. I use a small lightweight cross body bag worn to the front so it's not accessible to others behind me. DON"T ever flash cash around... that seems obvious but it's worth a mention.

If you’re flipping thru stuff on tables or in those big blue bins, DON”T wear a watch or fitness wrist device unless you’re super-sure it’s secure. DON”T store cash or cards in your front pockets and DON”T store your car keys or phone there either. Girls jeans have stupidly short pockets and the constant leaning against a table causes stuff to fall out. That's another tip I learned the hard way. 


Okay, still ready to shop now? Me too, in spite of the weird things that can happen. I hope I gave you some good suggestions. Go ahead- enjoy a day thrifting or whatever. Just be prepared and be careful! 


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