Every few months Value Village (a Canadian, American and Australian – in the latter country VV is known as “Savers”) - chain holds a one day sale during which all merchandise (excluding any new items such as their Halloween decorations in the fall) are half off the regularly ticked price. There are no catches and no coupons required.
This time around the sale is being held on the 25th of May in Canada and the US, and on the 1st of June in Australia. The email from VV that I received informing me of this sale said that the doors would be open between 8am and 9pm for Canadian and US locations, though Australian hours were not specified, so if you live in the lovely land Down Under, you may wish to phone your nearest Savers and double check their hours on the day of the sale.
Having hit my fair share of these half off Value Village sales (and second hand stores/yard sales/auctions/consignment shops in general) over the years, I can offer the following advice to make your shopping – and treasure sourcing – trip a little more fun.
-Before you even leave the house, set a budget for yourself. Ok, if you’re fortunate enough to not have to worry much about money, you might be able to skip this step, but if you’re not, read on. While second hand shopping at Value Village often yields inexpensively priced pieces, even at 50% off enough $2, $5, and $8 items will snowball into a big total if you pile enough on them into your cart. Second hand shopping is a blast, but it shouldn’t compromise your ability to pay your rent or buy groceries! If for example you set a budget of $100, you could always opt to take only that much in cash and instruct anyone you’re shopping with not to lend you any more on top of that, should your budgeting will power begin to fade. Going this route will help keep post-shopping trip feelings of spending guilt at bay and get you excited about the next future thrifting trip, which hopefully you’ll have some funds for.
-Arrive as early as you possibly can. In the past I’ve arrived before the doors opened only to find that a queue had already formed before I got there. The sooner you’re through the door, the earlier you can start magpie-ing your way around the store, grabbing up all the good pieces before they become terribly picked over.
-(If you plan to try anything on – and even if you told yourself you were going to hunt for a lamp or crockpot, chances are you’ll be tempted by a sweater, dress or skirt or two) Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. My thrifting “uniform” is often a skirt or boot cut/wide legged pants, a cami or light weight shirt and a thin cardigan with flats or wedges. This combo of items allows for easy on and off dressing and also provides a good backdrop of practical items you might pair your potential second hand items with from your everyday wardrobe.
-Carry a good sized purse or tote bag with a bottle of water or other beverage of choice, handiwipes and/or hand sanitizer, Kleenexes, lip gloss/balm (maybe it’s just me, but I always find my lips get dry when I’m shopping for a long time), scotch tape (in case you want to do an impromptu hem job on an item before buying it – just make sure you remove the tape before you bring the item up to the check out), easy to munch (possibly while in the dressing room) snacks, a pair of average weight socks (if you’re not wearing any, in case you want to try on shoes/boots that would normally be worn with socks), your cell phone (you never know when you might spot something a friend might be interested in and will want to call them up and ask if they’d like you to grab it for them), and optionally a good sized reusable shopping bag/tote to haul your newly acquired purchases home in.
-Try to get a shopping cart. While I can’t speak for all VV locations, many of the ones I’ve visited have been dreadfully under stocked when it came to shopping carts (trolleys/buggies). You may have to wait around for a few minutes at the front of the store for someone else to finish shopping, but it’s worth it to have a cart to push around the store as you hunt down your fabulous finds (trust me, you’re arms will thank you for saving them from having to act as a closet rod while you make your way through each aisle).
-If you see something you even remotely think you’d like to try on and/or buy, grab it right away! On 50% sale days I’ve literally seen hundreds of shoppers show up, so chances are that with such a hefty sized crowd something you like might be gone in another half an hour. You want to focus on the fun you’re having, not kick yourself for the rest of the week because you didn’t nab that grey pleated wool skirt or cream tie neck blouse.
-Be thorough! If you’re looking for specific pieces (brown oxfords, chiffon tops, high waisted pants, etc) be prepared to spend time going through each possible rack/shelf that could have the item(s) you’re dreaming of finding. While it can seem a tad tedious at times, it could also be the extra step that unearths your prized item.
-Look beyond the obvious. While you might generally stick to the ladies (or guys, as the case may be) department, don’t forget about the rest of the store. If you’re on the petite side, juniors (both boys and girls) pieces may sometimes yield some surprisingly nice finds (vintage uniforms, naturally “shrunken” jackets, skinny belts, etc). The men’s section can have everything from vests to hats that might appeal to your fashion tastes. And lastly don’t skip past the lingerie and uniform sections, you never know if a great vintage slip or pencil skirt that once belonged to an airline hostess or nurse is hiding amongst the racks just waiting for you to take it home.
-Read between the lines and look at the hidden potential of a garment. While you might not consider buying a $100 maxi dress at the mall and cutting off seven inches at the bottom, a $3 second hand dress might be worth having tailored or altering yourself.
-Have fun! Granted you may be on a mission to seek out certain pieces, that doesn't mean you have to act like it's a full out military campaign ;) Fifty percent off second hand clothing sales do not pop up every day, which is all the more reason to enjoy them to their fullest potential when they do.
Best of luck to those who attends the Value Village sale on May 25th! I hope that you’re all able to return home with a bag full of fantastic finds and plenty of “new” duds to fill your summer wardrobe with.
Happy thrifting, everyone!