It is really amazing the stuff people will donate. I have found designer clothing brand new with tags, and sometimes people will tell me "ugh my thrift stores never have stuff like that". The area where a thrift store is located can have an impact on the inventory they have, but I travel a lot and been to MANY thrift stores. With persistence you can find amazing pieces even at the smallest thrift stores in less prosperous areas.
I would say on average I am in a thrift store 5 out of 7 days a week. I list new pieces every day, so it is important for me to always have new inventory. In years of reselling I have definitely found a groove with sourcing and shopping thrift stores. If you're reselling or shopping for yourself, I've come up with some shopping tips I follow to get my hands on the best, cheapest inventory!
Shop Earlier In The Week
In my experience, I find the racks are fuller and more "just in" clothing is being brought from the back Monday-Wednesday than other days of the week. People are organizing and donating their items when they have time, which is usually on the weekends.
Check Clothing With Missing Brand tags
A lot of clothing at thrift stores have the brand tags removed, probably because the previous owner found them uncomfortable. If the item looks/feel high quality but is missing the brand tag, check the interior side tag that includes the materials. There will be an RN number you can search to find the brand name.
Ask about weekly specials
Many thrift stores have weekly specials (ie color tags of the week, military discounts, student discounts, etc) so make sure to ask or get a calendar so you can see when some items are cheaper or when you may qualify for a discount. Many of my Goodwills will have the occasional weekend special where all clothing is $2, so I will ask the cashier if they know of one coming up.
CHeck the just in rack right away
Whenever a store brings out a rack of clothing straight from the back, I always beeline straight there. These items are new to the floor and have never been picked through, and this is honestly where I find so much of my inventory.
identify the tagging system
Many thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army have a color tagging system where throughout one day all the inventory will be tagged one certain color (to be used in the previously mentioned color tag specials) When I am looking at a just in rack I will take note of the color, and then look for big bunches of this color tag on the other racks. These are probably new items from the day the employees have just put away.
Sign Up for the email list or follow the store on social media
Especially lately with the influx of donations, a lot of my thrift stores have been having random sales to get inventory moving. They usually share these sales through an email or on social media.
Check all sizes and departments
It's not so important for me and reselling, but for people who are buying for themselves a lot of thrift stores will *try* to keep the store in order by size. However things get moved around and misplaced so much I wouldn't rely on it. As well, I find a lot of higher end women's jeans in the mens section, and surprisingly I find Lululemon in the kids sections. If you have the time, look through all the departments!
Check End Caps and fitting room return racks
Pre-covid I would always check the go back racks out side of the fitting rooms. People have already done the work of searching the rack for goodies, it just didn't fit for them. Now that fitting rooms are closed, I always check the end caps of racks, especially those by mirrors. People are holding them up and inspecting them here, and leaving behind the ones they change their minds on.
If you have some insider thrift knowledge of your own you would like to share, leave a comment down below!
That feeling when you find designer pieces for a STEAL!
I'm constantly searching resale and secondhand sites for designer wardrobe staples. You never know when someone is just trying to unload their unwanted pieces, or maybe don't know an item's resale value! Those pieces go fast, so you want to be on top of doing your research. I was searching Poshmark listings with the filters "shoes" and brand "Chanel", and then sorted "price low to high" (what mad person sorts "high to low"??) when I came across these pretties at the top of the feed. Leather + logo detailing on the top and I was in love. I purchased these a little while back so I am not sure what they were originally listed at. I offered $40, which I believe was $10-15 less than their asking price ( I wanted them - no time for lowballing!) and they accepted! After taxes and shipping, I purchased these Chanel loafers for just under $51.
Currently, Chanel is selling leather loafers for anywhere between $825-$1250 on their website. After doing a little research I found the same pair that had sold on Tradesy for $540, and another used pair currently listed for sale for $640! GUYS! Chanel holds it's value so well.
Zara Staw Hat [new, $20] Wayf Polka Dot Wrap Top [secondhand, $6] J. Crew Legging Pants [secondhand, $3] Chanel Black Leather Logo Loafers [secondhand, $50]
Outfit Total: $79
The goatskin leather is so buttery soft, and these shoes just add a really nice, sophisticated touch to any outfit. Of course, these aren't brand new shoes and show some wear. There is some peeling of the leather at the toes, and the soles have seen some sidewalks. Once the home remodeling starts to die down I will spend some time to do a little DIY rehab, including some leather conditioning and new soles. I will definitely share some after photos on here once I do!
I LOVE Longchamp bags. They are so classic and preppy + high quality pieces that last forever. Back before I was so into secondhand shopping I bought myself a new medium size black Le Pliage tote for my birthday, and then for my birthday last year I got a tan nylon backpack as a gift (perfect thrifting bag!)
I've been wanting a large Le Pliage tote bag for sometime. I see so many chic ladies using them for travel and I wanted one! They retail for $145, but because I know how high quality they are I was willing to buy myself a fixer upper. I had been searching sometime between secondhand sites when I found this pretty red bag on Poshmark! I had originally been looking for a navy one, but red is also versatile and goes so well with everything. The bag was listed at $20, but had been listed for some time. I was wondering if I could get away with buying the bag for a total (tax+shipping) for under $20. I sent the seller an offer of $12 and they accepted! It was all mine for under $18. Total score!
Of course, there was a catch. The bag was very worn. You can see a lot of the wear in the before pics below, but it had a lot of dark marking (probably from rubbing on jeans), small water stains, white paint, and holes had started to tear in the corners (this is pretty common on Lonchamp bags.) Keep scrolling to see what I did to make it look almost new!
CLean Nylon with Warm Water + Clear Soap
To clean the nylon of your Longchamp Le Pliage bag, run it under a low stream of warm and water and scrub with a clear, mild soap. Pro tip: make sure to avoid getting the leather details too wet! Water will stain leather and is a lot harder to remove. I had the leather handles and clasp bound up out of the way, and you can also tie a plastic bag around it. I used a scrubby pad to really clean out the nylon, but don't use anything too sharp! Make sure to rinse all the soap out to avoid any discoloration lines, and let it air dry.
Use Nail Polish Remover on Paint
The staining I was most worried about getting out was the paint. I had read online that a traditional nail polish can get paint out of a lot of materials, so I thought I would give it a try. I applied it to a q tip and lightly applied it to the paint stain spots. It dissolved SO fast! Easiest part of the clean up.
Flip Bag Inside Out To Repair Holes
I think it is really important to mend the holes in the corner of your tote bag because with the heavy items in your bag + gravity the rips can really spread and it's less likely you can repair it without being too noticeable. I flipped the bag inside to sew up the rips so as to make sure the stitching is not as noticeable. I used a very thick needle and dental floss because its much stronger than traditional thread. Make sure to keep your sewing very close to the the rip line to make the stitches less noticeable, and make the line as straight as possible to ensure you get crisp corners.
The whole process took me under 30 minutes, and now I have a like new Longchamp Le Pliage large tote bag! Sometimes rehab on an item can be off putting (either for reselling or for your personal closet) but always do your research because sometimes you can get away with an amazing steal! If you are looking for your own secondhand Longchamp Le Pliage tote bag, I've linked a whole bunch of options above 50% + off retail. Thanks for reading!
Since I've started reselling, jeans have become some of my very favorite items to flip! They are made of more sturdy material and last longer + certain pairs hold their value very well and can make for a very profitable margin. The jeans rack is usually one of the first places I start in a thrift store, so I've been seeing a LOT of jeans and I've also been doing my research on jean brands and trends to make sure I'm buying what people are looking for.
One trend I am seeing a LOT this spring is the distressed crop fringe or raw hem jean. Being at 5'8", I often find an average size jean is too short and a tall size is too long, so I like a crop jean because it doesn't really matter where it hits my leg when it is over the ankle. Plus I love the fringe/raw hem and distressed detailing that makes it easy to wear casually or really fun to dress up!
The BP (Nordstrom junior's brand) pair I am wearing here are actually a thrift store find (shocker!) and were only $5! Below I've linked a bunch of crop raw hem jeans that are on major sale right now and all under $35 (some of these were originally over $100!) To shop you can just click the link below, and it will take you directly to the website to purchase.
As far as the rest of my outfit, I'd been on the hunt for a double breasted oversized blazer and picked this Mango one up for myself at Goodwill for $9.99 (which was actually a little painful for me haha #resellerprobs) but it was brand new and I actually couldn't find anything anywhere else cheaper! I've shared these Frye boots before but gosh I wear these every other day and just love how chic and comfy they are. They are still on major clearance online, and I've linked those as well as similar blazers, one as cheap as $8, below to shop!
It was not long into my reselling journey when I heard about Nordstrom's final clearance store Last Chance located near Phoenix, Arizona. Known for near nothing deals on clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods, items end up in this store for a variety of reasons. You will find a lot of the same item if they overproduced or overestimated the interest in the product. As well, a lot of one off items end up in the store due to Nordstrom's generous return policy. If the item is no longer on the floor, or is too worn to be sold in their Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores, they end up at Last Chance. I'd seen other people's amazing hauls from the store, but really had no idea of what to expect going into this experience. I thought I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly (!!) of my 3 hour experience there to hopefully help any other people decide if those deals are right for them! Keep scrolling to read!
Before The Store Even Opens
I knew this place gets busy (duh, great deals) and I was going on a Sunday so I was expecting a crowd. However, rolling up to the store 30 minutes before they open, I did not expect already to see a line of people wrapped around the building! The store is located in the basement area of an indoor shopping center, however they start lining people outside and around the building before they open. I would guess there were already at least 50 people waiting in line when we got there!
Once it was only a few minutes before opening, employees came out and sorted the people waiting into two lines, those who wanted to shop shoes first and those you who wanted to shop clothes first. They definitely had a system down to avoid chaos! I chose shoes because, well, I was just overwhelmed and this was the closest line to me ha. From there the employees led us single file down into the store, so far so good!
Similar to Goodwills in my area, all the items being sold at Last Chance have different color price tags. The day I was there, the sales they were having included 50% off all purple tags, and 80% off the purple tags on long dresses. Everyone swarmed that area when we entered, so there was barely anything left by the time I made my way to that area of the store. Most of the items I bought that day were purple tags, so there were definitely a lot to choose from. Honestly, I didn't pay more than $15 for one item, with my average item cost being around $9.
Outside of the purple tag items, 99% off the items I saw (all color tags) were priced SUPER low. I was pretty picky just because I am not a super big fan of retail arbitrage, but if you are purchasing for your own personal closet these deals can't be beat anywhere. I'm talking DVF wrap dresses for $30. I heard some women talking about how they are used to Last Chance having more discounts, so its possible there are days where more colors tags and items are discounted.
What I was not expecting was to find that most of the items in the store did not have original tags attached. It makes sense that they would do this to deter reselling, but wow that must take a lot of work. (There are even signs around the store forbidding reselling) However, I was still able to find a few pieces with the original designer tags attached. I was worried that maybe the cashiers would be on the lookout for this and remove them, but honestly they were in such a hurry to check people out they didn't even notice/care.
Another thing about the items that I was not expecting was how many were visibly worn, especially for the shoes. Most of the shoes had scuffs and wearing on the soles. I guess this speaks to Nordstrom's return policy. Even items that had original tags attached still had holes or pulls in the material. I recommend THOROUGHLY looking over piece of clothing you are looking to purchase for any irregularities. As far as the range in clothing brands and designers, while a lot of the items in the store are Nordstrom's lower end brands (Halogen, BP, Hinge, etc.) there was also still a very large amount of mid (Tory Burch, Kate Spade, DVF) to high end (Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Burberry, YSL, Chloe) to choose from.
The Other Customers
Ok, this is where everything gets a little nutty. Everything up to this point has sounded great, but you really need to be alert and keep your wits about you in this store because people are not here to leisurely shop. I've shopped a lot of sales and thrift stores in my lifetime, but none of those trips really prepared me for this place. The people are here to find the good deals, and find them before anyone else. Most of the common decency you would expect at a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack will not be found here. People WILL push your cart out of their way. They will grab an item out of your cart if it is something they want. They will jump ahead of you on the rack to grab something right out of your hands. While I was looking through a rack of jeans an employee rolled out a rack full of down jackets, some of which I saw had the Moncler symbol on the arm. I beelined that direction and was only about a foot away when two people jumped in my way and made me stop while they grabbed EVERY SINGLE JACKET OFF THE RACK. I just stood there for a minute literally like :0
Another little interesting tid bit of info is that Last Chance only has a couple fitting rooms, so don't be surprised to come face to face with a topless woman squatted behind a clothing rack trying on shirts. Nothing to see here folks.
Like most Nordstrom Rack stores, the checkout counters are at the front of the store. After I was done shopping, I was surprised to find that the checkout line went from the counters at the front of the store down the middle of the store to the back, went along the backside of the store, and turned back up almost all the way to the front of the store. Pretty much a full upper case "U". But like how they wrangled us into the store at the beginning, the employees really have a handle on lines and keeping things as organized as possible. There were employees along the way that took off your hangers and security tags. As long as the line was, it probably only took me about 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the line.
Tips FOr Success
- Get there early to take advantage of the biggest deals of the day
- Bring a buddy along so they can watch your cart if you need to go to the bathrooms (which are outside of the store)
- Lay a big item over the top of your cart and your other items so no one takes them out
- While the racks having size sections, a lot of items are disorganized and out of place so I recommend going through all racks
- When you see a new rack being rolled out FOLLOW IT AND BE THERE FIRST
- Only water is allowed inside the store, but I definitely bring some because time moves at a different pace inside this store
- Keep a mental note of what items have the big security sensors on them and make sure they get taken off (one of them got left on one of my items)
- Wear a crossbody bag to allow maximum arm usage
- Dress comfy because I can assure you no is there to impress anybody (I think the opposite actually lol)
- Look over every single item CAREFULLY because so many items have holes or defects, and this store is no exchange/refund/return
Overall for me, I would come back in a heartbeat if I find myself in the area again. I may even make the 10 hour round trip just to come to this store again. Considering the brands I found (a lot of which I've never been able to find in a thrift store) it is the perfect situation for me because I absolutely live for the hunt of a good deal. But if you prefer the comfortable, leisurely shopping experience, and don't mind paying up for that, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. It was fun reliving this crazy experience with you, and if you have any questions or your own experiences with this store to share feel free to leave a comment below!
Live for luxury? No trust fund, no problem!
Join the fancy free journey as we seek the
finer things in life, sans millions.
- Marie Claire, September 2016