First Time Thrifting Q&A: Spotlight on Jamie

We sat down with thrifter Jamie to learn what sparked her interest in secondhand shopping and what she wants others to know about it.

What was your first impression of thrifting?

Honestly, I was overwhelmed. I was used to going into stores at the mall and having displays of clothes to give me some direction as to where I want to start based off of what was on trend. Going into a thrift store I did not have that same direction. I really had to go through items individually and evaluate them as opposed to “window shopping” and finding things I liked at a quick glance. 

What sparked your first trip to a thrift store?

My first trip to a thrift store was when I was a kid. My family has donated for as long as I can remember and my mom has always taught my sister and I to take good care of our belongings so that they are not only nice for us to use while we have them, but that they are also nice and in good condition for others when we no longer need or want them. So as we would donate our belongings to the thrift store, my mom would always have us go in with her so that we could gain a better understanding of why it is important to donate. 

What was the first thrift store you visited?

The first thrift store I remember visiting was the D.A.V on East University in Des Moines. 

Was there anyone who prompted the visit?

My mom, I was a kid and we had taken in some things to donate. While we were there she took me around the store and would explain to me why we want to keep our things nice, and why we want to donate items in good condition. 

What did you shop for during your first visit to a thrift store?

The first time I actually shopped for myself at a thrift store I was much older than when I had first visited, I was in highschool at this time and was looking for some shorts for summer. I am not one for summer fashion, and still to this day I cannot justify $30-$40 on a pair of shorts… That’s just $20 shy of a pair of jeans and you are getting significantly less for your money. In Iowa weather I was only going to be wearing them for 3 months maybe, and crossing my fingers HOPING I could fit into them again next summer… While I was not an avid thrifter, I was still a bargain shopper (end of year liquidation sales anyone?) So this venture led me to the thrift store. My dad found a little thrift store on the east side of Des Moines and took me. It was small, but very clean. I walked in and did not know where to start. I thought to myself “you mean I have to look through everything?” Okay, so it had been a while since I had been in a thrift store and I may have forgotten how things were set up. So my mom jumped in right away flipping through racks and pulling items. I cannot remember what all I left with that day, except a cute pair of white shorts that lasted me for the next 3 summers. 

How did your visit compare to what your expectations were?

Previously I never had many expectations so I always felt like I didn’t know what I was walking into. This probably contributed to me always being so overwhelmed when I would visit. So my visits were short and I didn’t leave with much. Now that I spend more time in thrift stores, I have become much more confident in how to search to find the hidden gems. 

What do you want others who are thinking about thrifting to know?

There are a couple pieces of advice that I would like to pass on. 

  1. Research your thrift stores and understand their mission and the programs that they provide to people in the communities. I knew superficially that places provided programs, but I never connected the dots as to what they did, who they helped, or how they were funded. Once I learned the cycle of mission programming and how it connects to an organization’s thrift store, my entire perspective changed on many places as I came to realize they weren’t JUST thrift stores. 
  2. Know what you are looking for, but keep an open mind. This piece of advice has put me on the fritz more times than I can count mostly because I took it too literally (quick piece of advice, don’t do that.) From experience I have learned that I don’t want to look at everything in the thrift store. I know when I go to a thrift store I am hitting up dresses, shoes, long sleeve tops (mostly because I love a good cardigan), tanks and tops in neutrals and patterns, and housewares just for fun. I know these are the only things that I will be looking at, I know I’m going in with an idea of a style or look I am wanting, but I also know that I’m not going to find the exact pair of slingback block-heel peep-toe booties that I have been searching for online for weeks… When searching for items I look at each individual piece and assess the quality by feeling the fabric and double checking for any holes, tears, or snags. 

Find a Goodwill of Central Iowa store near you today!

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