That is, until I went thrifting at Goodwill in Jackson Township with Dina Younis of Dina’s Days. She taught me more about thrifting in a two-hour shopping trip than I would have learned reading about it or attempting it on my own.
On a weeknight in September, I met up with Dina, and we scoured the racks in search of at least three outfits. What we found amazed me. See for yourself.
1. Bring Clorox wipes if you intend to look at shoes. You can find almost-new shoes at Goodwill. It feels more sanitary to try them on if you know they’re clean. Run a wipe inside the shoes, and it won’t feel so icky to try them on.
2. Grab a cart. You may think if you’re only looking for one item that you won’t need a cart, but trust me, grab one. Goodwill is full of unique items. You may end up finding four leather jackets that catch your eye.
3. Budget is key. When shopping at Goodwill or other thrift shops, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Seeing such low prices can tempt you to buy more than you need. Firmly sticking to a budget will keep you in line and make you realize what’s worth buying.
4. Know what you want. It can be very easy to get distracted when looking through racks of clothing that are all different. Decide if you’re looking for a specific piece, such as a black leather jacket, or an ensemble, such as an outfit to wear to work. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s easier to navigate the store, as most Goodwills are organized into separate sections.
5. If you think something possibly could work, grab it. Clothing can look much different on a hanger than on your body. If it’s a style you like, grab it. Rather than putting an item back that could be the perfect fit, put it in the cart and try it on.
6. Make sure the pieces will work for you in multiple ways. Nothing is worse than finding something that fits you perfectly and is stylish but you know it won’t fit into your wardrobe. If an item will work multiple ways, it’s a safe bet. Think one top with jeans, leggings or a pencil skirt. Bonus if it works more than two ways.
7. When looking at jeans and pants, look at the hems first. If you know skinny jeans aren’t for you, looking at the hems first will show you the style of the pants. This can save a lot of time when faced with a full rack of jeans. Also, know the wash you’re looking for.
2. Understand the tagging system. This is extremely important. Every thrift store has its own tagging system. Goodwill of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio locations use a color tagging system. Every single item is individually priced with a colored price tag. Every week, Goodwill runs in-store discounts in which a certain color tag is half off and the other is $1.50. Keep an eye out for the colors of the week for even deeper discounts.
3. When shopping the “bins,” inspect the clothing. Most of the items are in excellent condition, they just need a home! However, always inspect the item front to back. I like to lay the item flat and check for stains and rips. Always check the seams and turn it inside-out.
4. Don’t believe the myth that high-end items are only in rich neighborhoods. In some cities, certain stores will have a number of brand-name labels because of their donation base. However, this isn’t a rule you should follow religiously. Many thrift stores in Ohio, for example, distribute their clothes among their territory. Some thrift stores have drop-off trucks, so these donations get spread out among a number of locations. In other words, a thrift store in an unsuspecting neighborhood could carry some seriously high-end names. Keep your options open. If you’re curious, ask someone at your local thrift store how they sort their clothes. It’s not a big secret.
5. Look for items with tags. You’ll often find department store items with tags still attached. Browse the rack quickly for tags hanging off the clothes.
And that she has. She has a large following on Instagram (more than 11,000 followers), and she often contributes to several blogs, including Goodwill Akron and the Cleveland Flea.
Aside from thrifting for personal reasons and blogging, she has created events around thrifting. In 2013, she co-founded Thrift Night Out, an event that brings people together to learn about the benefits of thrifting. Younis also hosts private events for groups or offices.
She also started Dina’s Days Spice Rack, which is her curated collection of thrift and vintage clothing at the blue, A Goodwill Boutique at 335 S. Main Street in Akron. Find her collection by the pink SPICE sign.
For more information about Dina and her thrifting adventures, including recent finds, thrifting tips, special event notifications and some thrifted home renovation projects, check out dinasdays.com or follow her Instagram, @dinasdays.
- 2630 Atlantic Blvd., Canton | 330-456-8020
- 12501 State St. NE, Alliance | 330-821-4880
- 2254 Locust St., Canal Fulton | 330-854-3453
- 864 A W. Maple St., Hartville | 330-877-7921
- 7257 Fulton Dr. NW, Jackson Twp. | 234-348-9003
- Outlet: 4379 Whipple Ave. NW, Jackson Twp. | 234-360-8564
- 2745 Indian River Rd. SW, Massillon | 330-833-9825
- 950 S. Main St., North Canton | 330-494-2464
- 4510 Tuscarawas St. W, Canton | 330-479-8222