Battling Shopping Addiction: Conquering Thrift Stores… And Failing

One of my friends wanted to help me with my shopping problem. We had endless conversations about the causes and motivations, and, of course, the guilt behind my spending habits or unfullfilled financial goals. One day she said to me “I think I figured you out. You enjoy the process of shopping, not necessarily the results. I know what you should do. You should go with me and check out thrift stores.”

My friend was born frugal. I strongly believe that there are people who are born this way. As a part of her frugal life style, my friend goes to thrift stores on a regular basis. She is a girl with a plan who manages to find unbelievable treasurers in thrift stores. The most surprising part, she somehow digs up a lot of new clothes that still have price tags.

Every time she shows me what she got in one of the thrift stores, I feel somewhat jealous: she is able to find treasures and spend less than a fraction of the price that I squander in the department stores.

Of course when she suggested to take me to a thrift store, I jumped on it. The possibility of finding a brand new designer raincoat is enticing. The idea of a slightly used designer bag is mesmerizing. I got carried away with my imagination and realized that I might not find these precious things in a thrift store.

Visiting the thrift stores was quite an eye opening adventure. I found out things about myself that I suspected but had never acknowledged.

I found out that I don’t have a lot of patience.

My friend asked me if I know what I want to look for in thrift stores. The problem is I never know what I am looking for when I shop. My method is very simple: I come, I look, I conquer. This unfortunately doesn’t work quite as well with thrift stores: you come, you look, you get lost… among racks of clothes, and clothes, and some more clothes. I glanced at “vintage” clothes. I stared at “better” clothes. I contemplated “discounted” clothes. I got frustrated and I quit looking pretty fast.

I also discovered that I am a paranoid hypochondriac.

I saw a nice pair of slightly used pumps with a price tag of $10. My friend told me to try them which I did. The next thing I know, the thoughts of getting some kind of nasty microorganisms on my feet flooded my mind. What if the person who owned these pumps had athlete’s foot? Can you get germs from wearing someone else’s shoes? The shoes went back on the rack.

Call me narrow-minded. Call me short-sighted. Call me a snob.

Honestly, call me whatever you want but I, apparently, cannot buy someone else’s clothes or shoes. My friend, on the other hand, does not mind it at all. “Clean it and wear it. You can’t beat the price,” she told me. No, you can’t beat the price. But I also cannot beat the feeling that I might be wearing clothes that belonged to a street walking transient.

Thrift stores can be fun and cheap entertainment for people who are not:

Impatient and imaginative shoppers

Paranoid hypochondriacs

Shopping snobs

Unfortunately, I am all of the above, and thrift stores ended up being well beyond my imaginative and shopping addicted mind. Instead, they became a place where the hope of indulging in the same shopping experience as in department stores got swallowed up as I browsed the stores’ perimeter.

45 thoughts on “Battling Shopping Addiction: Conquering Thrift Stores… And Failing”

  1. LOL, I’m with you on this!

    But I don’t feel bad because I am able to find ridiculously good deals at outlets and liquidators. If a shirt costs $8 at the thrift store, used, and I can buy a new shirt for $10 at an outlet or liquidation store, I’m going to pay the extra $2. Meanwhile, I’m saving time by not having to rummage, inspect and wash the thrift store finds.

    1. Outlets is the way to go! I love outlets! I just wish they would be close to where I live. On the other hand, maybe it is to my benefit that I don’t have outlets around the corner. 😉

  2. I am unable to shop at thrift stores too, but I’m not gonna lie, 99% of it is because I’m a shopping snob. I tried to fight it but now I’ve made peace with it 🙂
    I happen to like high-end stuff, which you don’t (typically) find at thrift stores

  3. You are too funny. I am the opposite of a germaphobe. I have no problem with thrift finds and I’ve gotten amazing stuff that I get compliments on and people are always shocked to learn it was from a thrift store. To each her own ; )

    1. Oh, I totally complemented my friend on her clothes from a thrift store. She looks great and she finds treasures in there. I guess like you said “to each her own.” 😉

    1. Well, I think I might have another phobia then… what if the washer does not get rid of anything? 🙂 I know I sound crazy!


    Too funny! It’s interesting that while I’ve been considered a germophobe, I will go thrifting for used clothes. I have no problem washing and wearing 😀

    1. You are just like my friend! She is totally fine with washing and wearing. 😉 oh well… I am different.

    1. I would be okay with antiques. But not furniture! I would not be able to force myself to buy a sofa, for example.

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  6. When it comes to clothes, I can’t do thrift stores. I like my clothes shopping experience to be quick and efficient, and I don’t enjoy digging for treasures. I also start to doubt my fashion sense when surrounded by so much junk, and the thought of trying on used clothes creepers me a bit too.

    But I do like scouring thrift stores for housewares that can be repurposed.

  7. I am with Lindy. It’s the time that bothers me about thrift stores. We live in a small town that doesn’t have the best Goodwill or thrift stores so that is a factor too. For the record, I don’t think you are a clothes snob. It’s just a matter of comfort.

    1. Thank you! I always thought that maybe it my snobiness (is it even a word?) that forces me to ignore thrift stores. I definitely agree that it is also a level of comfort that I get from shoppinf in department stores.

  8. I get jealous when my friends have fabulous finds too, but it takes patience and LOTs of shopping and that’s not what I have! (anymore, anyway)

    I’ve become the “get in get out” kind of shopper!

    I used to buy thrift store SHOES and now I realize that’s probably not the best idea. Athletes Foot anyone? 😉

    1. Wow! You are really brave (so is my friend!) But I guess you never got anything from those shoes, so maybe I just exaggerate things, right? 🙂

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  10. Count me in on the wash it and wear it crowd..although I do admit to washing the kids clothes a couple of times before I let them wear them….I don’t have nearly the time these days to frequent the thrift stores. I miss the shopping high I would get when I’d find a treasure…..

  11. Haha, that’s hilarious! Mrs. RB40 shops at the thrift store once in a while and she can always find something. I can’t find anything good there though. The selection for men is very limited and I think men generally wear out their clothes.

    1. You got it right on that one. I’ve tried finding clothes at the Salvation Army a couple of times, when accompanying Mrs. 101. The selection is unfailingly ratty, stained or out-of-fashion.

    2. More I hear about Mrs RB40, more I think I need to meet her. Apparently, she knows her way around thrift stores! 😉

  12. I never cracked this one either. Germs is what bothers me most. Apart from that I don’t ever seem to find anything worth having in thrift shops. As a friend says, I am the worst kind of woman: I think I am low maintenance but in fact I am very high maintenance.

    1. Haha! Maybe you and I are looking at all wrong places. Maybe we don’t know something that other people do! 🙂

  13. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but here at least the thrift stores often have brand new clothes with their tags still on them. You just have to dig to find them. As far as the used clothes go though, I think you’re more likely to find clothes from someone who was a shopping addict than a street walking transient — transients wear out their clothes…

    1. I am glad you said this. My reasoning agrees with you 100% but my somewhat paranoid mind is still questioning cleanliness of clothes and germs in shoes.

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  15. Nice job of self reflection again! I browse for fun, but I don’t think I could buy. I am not artsy enough and too worried about the previous owners’ cleanliness.

    1. Yep, cleanliness is always in question for me. 😉 I don’t want to buy something that gives me moe worries than joy.

  16. To the people who can’t stomach used clothes, you have it too good and were raised not wanting in life? get over the fears, and pocket the change.

    Stats show that in a persons closets and dressers are clothes that haven’t been worn in over 8 months at a time. We as humans seem to fall into this routine of wearing what is on the top and forgetting about the bottom.

    Then again it could be that I am just a guy who works in an industry that wears jeans and shirts (not ties and whites) grew up and raised with hand me downs and saved money in later life by keeping the same ideology.

    Rich people drive older (paid out right) cars while poor people lease new ones. Poor people want to look rich while rich people act poor. you figure it out.

    1. I’m not sure about that…I grew up poor and I would still prefer to wear new clothing.

      It doesn’t have to be expensive, but I would rather not wear clothes/shoes that somebody else has worn.

      I shopped at thrift stores when I was in high school and even then, I tended to look for stuff that looked new or was in very good condition.

      While I do agree that some people are privileged and snobby about where their clothes come from, I also see their point about not wanting used underwear or shoes.

      Those are very personal items that have been touching certain parts of a stranger’s body.

      I would love to find a vintage Chanel purse at a thrift shop, though…that would be sweet!

      1. A vintage Chanel bag? I would adore a thrift store that was able to score this item. Unfortunately, I never saw anything like this. But then again, I’ve been to thrift stores only once. 🙂

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  18. As a thrift store shopper/donation giver, most of what I drop off isn’t worn out/dirty. They are perfectly good clothes that I bought, maybe wore once and realized they don’t work for me.
    Also, not to add to germaphobia, but when you buy an item from a department store, chances are, someone else (or multiple people) have tried it on before you.

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