Halloween Thrifting 3 –The Art of Thrifting

Part 3 of 3. This post also appears on ShopSoCo.com. The full article ran on October 17th in the Sonoma Living section of the Press Democrat.

Avoid being overwhelmed by thrift store treasure hunting.

Thrift shops are a great place to get that one-of-a-kind costume for you or your kids. However, there is a fine art to being successful when thrift shopping. Without a plan of attack in place, there’s a good chance you will be left wandering from town to town, thrift store to thrift store, and the only thing gained is the frustration that is rapidly increasing in size. Here are some tips that will help you in your quest for the perfect costume with the least strain on your wallet.

Plan your shopping days around sale days. Many shops have designated days when a few items to everything in the store are reduced to as much as ½ off. Sure, a vintage cape at $8 is a steal. But $4? Now you can get a hat to go with it.

Shop earlier in the day. By the end of the day, the selection on the floor tends to thin out from being picked through all day long. But at the beginning of the day, the racks and shelves are freshly stocked and everything is neat and tidy, making treasure hunting that much easier.

When shopping for your kids, DON’T ask your kids what they want to be before shopping. It’s so much easier to shop for a costume without an idea in mind, letting the items before you speak to you and form your costume for you. Yes, a couple generic ideas don’t hurt. But if your child is bent on being a fairy princess with a light pink satiny dress and matching shoes, she will be sorely disappointed. However, if she SEES a dress that would make a perfect princess costume, you are guaranteed more success.

Keep an open mind. Costumes aren’t just found in the clothing area. They can be created around a discarded camera that no longer works, the flowery candle holder that will make a beautiful crown wreath, or some sheer window drapes. Even an old laundry basket can induce some surprisingly clever ideas. Also, don’t look down upon imperfections. Rips can be sewn, buttons replaced, and a scratch or two can actually add character. If a lovely pattern of fabric comes in the shape of an oversized nightgown, think about how you can amend it to resemble more of a party dress.

Have a list of back-up stores. It’s likely that everything you need to create the perfect outfit won’t be found in one store. So to save you time, have a list of a few close-by backup stores to continue your search. The more efficient the process is, the less frustration there will be.

Finally, stop while you’re ahead. Nobody has the patience to thrift shop when they lost their patience three stores ago. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the perfect Halloween costume doesn’t have to be either. Trying to cram too much searching in a short window of time may have you missing items that could have been perfect with a little bit of tweaking. Plan on your treasure hunt lasting a couple afternoons, and for only a short amount of time each day. After all, it’s easier to shop fresh when you’re excited about your creation instead of shopping long hours, wishing the holiday would pass already.

Looking for a thrift store in the area? You’re in luck, there are plenty to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Church Mouse Thrift Shop
Laid out like a boutique, yet still a thrift store. The layout of the shop makes it easy to find your next bargain. Hot Tip: lots of vintage items, including jewelry.
15 E Napa St, Sonoma
(707) 938-9797

Salvation Army
If you’re looking for a thrift store with huge inventory, this is the one. Not only is the warehouse huge, it’s split up into several different shops all in one – areas dedicated to vintage, sporting goods, games, etc.
200 Lytton Springs Rd, Healdsburg
(707) 433-3334

Sew your own costume using recycled thread, material, and various other craft items to create a one-of-a-kind look.
781 Gravenstein Ave, Sebastopol
(707) 823-7520


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