7 Thrifting Secrets from a Pro

By Abby and Elle

Who knew that when we interviewed Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Scott Bea about changing your style that we’d be introduced to his wife, Barbara Weyburne Bea, who describes herself as a 40-year thrifting veteran, to which we asked, “You began thrifting when you were a toddler?” Turns out, that’s about right.

Photo: Stephen Travarca

When Barbara, one of 10 children, was old enough to run errands herself, she was sent to the neighborhood appliance store to fetch a part. On the way there, a thrift store caught her eye. Inside, she found baby sundresses for about a dime, perfect for both a tight budget and the youngest in the family. Barbara bought several dresses for her baby sister, and she’s been hooked on thrifting ever since.

Barbara shared her thrifting secrets with us, and we’re passing them onto you:

  1. Keep a list of items you need/want. For example, Barbara currently has her eyes peeled for a dressy sleeveless top in black.
  2. Plan ahead. If you’re going on a hiking vacation in the fall, for instance, think now about some items you’ll need such as cargo pants and shorts, sweatshirts and comfy t-shirts.
  3. Befriend the shopkeepers. If you establish a friendly relationship with owners or managers, they’ll be more likely to keep an eye out for your preferred labels and call you when they come in.
  4. Mention defects. If you like an item but there’s a defect such as a tear, mention it. You may get an additional discount.
  5. Check the pockets. Sometimes if there’s a missing button on an item, you’ll find it tucked inside a pocket.
  6. Scan the racks. Thrift stores are packed these days, but you can easily find gems by scanning the racks for fabrics that appeal to you, colors you favor and patterns that catch your eye. For example, if you love plaid, you can easily scan the rows of slacks for a winner.
  7. Dress for success. If you’re planning a marathon thrifting day, wear fitting-room friendly threads such as a bodysuit and skirt.

We asked Barbara if she ever shops retail, and she said she will for necessities. “We all have other things to spend our money on,” she says. “Not fashion.”

PS: If you liked this Abby & Elle post, stay tuned for a post about the business of thrifting; we’ll share some info that’s sure to surprise you. And sign up for automatic email updates so you won’t miss a thing!

3 thoughts on “7 Thrifting Secrets from a Pro

  1. Pingback: Top 5 Round Up | Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion

  2. Good advice! Here are couple more tips:

    ~ Find out which days the store offers 1/2 price on all clothing, eg, Salvation Army’s is Wednesday
    ~ Like any other store, buying off-season will save you money
    ~ If you love books, Value World has the best prices

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