Thrifty Tips with Lemon's Loot

WARNING: This blog may cause uncontrollable urges to rummage through storage bins that may result in extreme happiness. I wanted to start a little feature on my blog that may inspire you to think outside of the box. That my friends, is Lemon's Loot. 

If you know anything about me, you'll know I LOVE a good thrift find. Nothing screams my name more than hardly used items that were given away before their lives were over. Left to sit sadly on a rack, sandwiched between chunky sweaters and your grandma's pajamas. That was one of the reasons I wanted to create this little Thursday feature - to show you what YOU could possibly find during your hunt! 

I personally shop for both personal AND professional use. Sometimes I find an item that matches my style perfectly and the price is right... so it gets a "YES!" and is added to my closet. Other times I'm looking for pieces that either inspire a shoot, or that complete one I already dreamed of. By keeping an open mind, you never know what you'll come across!!

I live in Kingston, and boy do we ever have options! From our Value Village (Hi Alex!) at the Frontenac Mall, to TWO loaded Salvation Army's and a handful of independent and church run shops... there are certainly piles of treasure to be found. I've been visiting secondhand shops as long as I can remember. I rarely leave empty handed, even if it is just a few dollars spent. 

So I thought, what better way to kick off my feature than to give you all my top FIVE tips and tricks! Happy Looting!! 

1) LOCATION IS KEY.

As I mentioned before, Kingston is filled with brick and mortar secondhand shops. Knowing what is available at each location will help cut back search time and allow you to pick the store that is right for you. 

Value Village, located on Bath Road, is giant. It is your best selection in town no contest. However the past few years, they have been knowingly uping their prices on their items. This isn't the blog were I'll talk about my feelings about that, however. I'm still faithful and even if I have to pay an extra few bucks in the end it is still more affordable than full price. I tend to scope out the home decor, curtains/bedding, knick knacks and the dresses the most.

The Salvation Army, one location is on Bath Road and the second is on Division Street, has to be my favorite. I mainly visit the one on Bath Road (almost exclusively but hope to change that!) and it has provided me with the most fantastic finds. As soon as I walk through those doors, I make a beeline for that dress rack. Although not a huge selection, the prices are outstanding for formal dresses. Being able to pick them up between $5-15 makes this lady very happy. Before I leave, I always check their lingerie section, bathing suits and occasionally the women's wear. I do try to actually AVOID the furniture section (I really don't need any more cute side tables.. or lamps... or shelves...) as I ALWAYS come across items I just "NEED". Bad Ashlee...

We also have Bibles for Missions on Princess, The Goodway on Division, Phase 2 downtown Princess, The Revolving Door on Gardiner's Road... the lists goes on.

2) KNOW YOUR BRANDS.

Before you skip over this section while saying, "I don't care about name brands...", PLEASE keep reading. This isn't the part where I tell you to only purchase expensive, name brand items. This is the time that I explain how IMPORTANT it is to know the names and where they fit on the price list. 

Why is this important?

Many people will look at an item and look at the price and assume they are getting a discount because the item is secondhand. So what happens when that blouse is ACTUALLY a "UK 2 LA" brand? Sounds fancy right? Wrong. This label comes from stores such as Stitches and Urban Planet and also carries a $3.00-$15.00 price tag when brand new. I've seen so many of these tops on the rack, sometimes with price tickets for $10-12$! When you compare these two prices (and consider the wear/washing the item has already gone through) you may want to reconsider what price is actually a solid deal. 

Refresh yourself with brands that your know you love, that wash well, that last a long time and that compared to the new ticket price, are a good deal.

I always pick up items from Guess, Ann Taylor, Le Chateau, American Eagle and SOME Forever 21 pieces. I find the styles to be timeless, the quality to work for my wash-and-wear lifestyle and the prices are usually within budget! 

If you're unsure about a brand? Google is your best friend. You may even discover a stylist you just LOVE!! Keep in mind this is only a suggestion. I know too well that sometimes you'd pay just about anything for that perfect piece.

3) TAKE TIME AND KEEP TIME.

Like all good things in life, you sometimes have to wait. Time is an important factor in thrift shopping and it's important to look at a few aspects.

Spend time. Look at each item, move things and pay attention to racks that may not be your size. When you take the time to touch items and find those hidden gems - that's when your luck will pay off. Too many times people "hide" items or put them in the wrong area, so leave no hanger untouched!

Keep track of time. Never spend too long in one area. I find when I stay at a rack I find myself wanting to purchase anything, whether I love it or not. Have a look, go to the next area, and then come back if you feel you may have missed something. The perks of doing this, will also allow sales staff to replenish the racks with new or tried-on items.

Go at the right time. Early in the day, or close to the end of the evening. Not only will the racks be tidier, this also gives staff a chance to bring stock back to the racks. Some places will even WAIT until open and close to put out stock from the warehouses! This finally is also a good way to avoid people while you get your shop-on. 

Visit different times. Many locations have special days where they offer a discount to students, have half price sales or just generally have more items flowing to the floor. By asking the staff or paying attention to the paper/social media you can increase your chances of saving even more! By also visiting irregularity (or daily if you're into that!) you can increase your chances of striking gold over looking at the same items over and over.

4) ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS.

Do you need that? Does it actually fit you? Does it match the other seventeen pairs of jean shorts in your closet? Is it clean? Can I get this stain out? Who cares about the stain.. what about this smell?! The answer is... well, it's up to you!! 

We all have things we are willing to deal with. Maybe you're handy with a needle and thread, so the small rip is no big deal. But if you just cringe at the thought of FOLDING your clothing... picking up items that are less than perfect may be a bust.

By asking yourself questions about the item before getting heart-eyes over the price tag, you're less likely to regret your purchases. Most stains and smells can be solved, but make sure you look at the items before purchasing. What may look like an easy fix could be the reason the item is there in the first place. 

Pro tip? If you're unsure if the item was priced with the damage/fault in mind.. ask a staff member. I found a business dress that had a torn slip on the inside. They didn't see the damage at first so my $12.00 dress ended up costing me $6.00! I cut the (not needed) torn slip out and now rock professional style with professional budgeting in mind! 

5) GIVE BACK.

An eye for an eye, or in this case, clothing for clothing and items for items! I can't stress enough how important it is to maintain a lifestyle where I feel happy about my place as a consumer. By giving, donating and allowing others the access to items in my closet - I personally get to add to the joy of thrifting. I often purge my own things to make room for new-to-mes. 

By refreshing the items in my life I am always inspired by new ideas and new ways to use things. I often get lost in DIY's on Pinterest and find myself dreaming of outlet shopping. Life isn't about having all the things, it's about being able to share those things with others and finding new possibilities. 

I hope this inspired you to perhaps downsize your own belongings... take them over to any of the drop offs and pop in for a look... You never know what you may find!! Stay tuned for next week, where I put my tips into action and share what I looted!!