Rachel Halpin digs into second-hand shops, to let us know how to get the best items for less.
When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released their song Thrift Shop in 2012 it brought the concept of thrift shopping back into popular culture. Making second-hand shopping a trendy activity and brought the counterculture craze back into society.
A thrift shop is a place that sells second-hand clothes, accessories, homeware, and other miscellaneous things. They typically sell their stock to raise money for a charity. Thrift shops are popular because of the vintage and tacky clothes and trinkets that you can buy at a cheap price.
There are many thrift shops around the country, with many being in Dublin City. In and near Temple Bar there are a lot of shops that cater to a variety of people and their tastes, which makes it a great starting point. George’s Street near Temple Bar is home to many charity shops and has a good selection of vintage clothing.
Clothes are the biggest appeal in thrift shops and why so many people shop in them. Thrift shops are good for getting clothes that can be expensive, like designer pieces, at a much cheaper price, though these pieces can be hard to find as you’ve to have a good look through the clothes. It may take a few trips to thrift shops before you find the good stuff.
Different shops have different ways of displaying the products they are selling. Most shops will have various sections for different kinds of products. The general layout is that clothes are in the centre and towards the front as they are the main stock sold in thrift shops. They will have things such as books, DVDs, CDs, and vinyl together and put into their own separate categories, from there they may be put into alphabetical order.
How clothes are laid out depends on the shop. Most keep the same kinds of clothes together, putting dresses with dresses and trousers with trousers. Some shops separate the clothes by size, this way you can search easily by your size and it’s all together. Other shops organise their products by colour, which makes it harder to find things that fit you or if you’re looking for something specific this layout isn’t ideal.
One major problem with shops that sell second-hand clothes is that some shops don’t wash the clothes after getting them in, so they can still be dirty when a person buys them. It is best to wash the previously-owned clothes you buy before wearing them.
Tara Callan, a third-year student in the National College of Arts and Design (NCAD) is a frequent shopper at thrift shops. She visits them often as there are loads on Thomas Street where NCAD is so she goes into them going to or coming from college.
When she goes into thrift shops she isn’t looking for something specific most of the time, unless it’s for one of her college’s balls because then she knows just to look for anything that is funky, the weirder the better usually goes for them.
“It’s like TK Maxx, you gotta look through everything because some really funky things can be hidden behind something else, which is kinda half the fun,” said Callan, about what shopping is like in thrift shops.
“Well for me anyway because when you go shopping in stores you know the brand of, like let’s say Topshop or River Island, you kinda already know what to expect whereas when you go thrift shopping you never know what you’re gonna get.”
When she is thrift shopping she never spends too much money, the most she has ever spent on a single item of clothing was €15 and the rest is usually around a fiver or less.
Her favourite clothing piece that she has ever bought is this ridiculously baggy, red jumper because it’s one of the comfiest things that she owns. But the thing that she finds the most interesting thing she has that has come from a charity shop would have the be the random ornaments she has picked up.
“Which is funny because I never think of buying ornaments when I go into one of the shops but always usually end up coming out with one and sometimes the people working there know where they came from so you just have this collection of items with these past lives come into yours,” said Callan.
A tip she has for thrift shopping is to try to find out when the sale is on because usually, that’s when the window front goes on sale so if you do have your eye on something specific in the shop front you can grab it. She also says that the key to shopping in a thrift shop is to just try to root through as much as possible because otherwise, you’re going to miss some amazing items.