I consider myself a savvy shopper. When it comes to clothes I pretty much NEVER pay full price and usually manage to find a steal. I can thank my 7 years working for The Gap to know that most things get marked way down when seasons change. However, when I started working at Tory Burch, I met The Queen of The Bargain! Assistant General Manager Ali Meyer has made me jealous more times than I can count with her crazy cheap thrift store finds.
Thrifting is an arena I’ve never ventured into before. It scared me a little plus I wasn’t sure where to go to find the best deals! Well that was about to change when Ali agreed to take me on a shopping spree at several of her favorite spots around town. She warned me that it’s all about luck. I wondered, would we strike gold or come out empty handed? Well I can confirm we definitely STRUCK GOLD!! Let’s just say between the two of us we bought 34 items for under $200. Here’s some of our loot from Buffalo Exchange, Otra Vez Couture Consignment and Boysville Thrift. These three stores are on the same street which made it very easy to hop from one to another! And we came on the right day. The staff at Buffalo Exchange was opening 200+ boxes of merchandise that they were just putting out. And let me just say, the girls working there were so nice and had a lot of fun with us!
Pictures from our day:
In Ali’s words:
When did you start thrifting and why?
I started thrifting when I was in middle school. My grandparents moved to Arizona to a retirement community and took me to a thrift store there called the White Elephant. Seeing so many amazing things that older people got rid of made me love the thrill of the find. I remember getting a Polaroid camera and some vintage jewelry and being so excited.
Have you always been a bargain shopper? Do you ever buy clothes full price?
I have always been a bargain shopper. I never really have to shop for a particular item because I’m always finding good deals on basics throughout the year. I occasionally buy a full price piece if I love it and can’t find it on special at some point. I’ll spring for something if the price is moderate, if it is well constructed and suits the occasion I need it for. Rarely an item will hit all 3 buckets.
Name your top 5 best LOCAL thrifting stores.
1. Buffalo Exchange Outlet San Antonio-I love this place because nothing is above $7 and the merchandise comes from other stores throughout the USA that didn’t sell on sale. The finds will amaze you!!!! Keep in mind this location is shopping only, not buy or trading.
2. Family Thrift-The prices are cheap and everything here is hung up
3. Salvation Army
4. Boysville Thrift Store-Non-profit resale shop
5. Goodwill Outlet
Outside of San Antonio, and online, where have you found the best deals?
Green Valley Arizona-White Elephant
For outdoor items-Sierra Trading Post
For shoes-6pm.com Zappos Outlet
For impulse buys: Rue La La, Gilt, Haute Look
Best outlets: Last Call, Kate Spade, TJ Maxx, Marshalls
Is there a certain time of year that’s best for bargains and good selection? Specific times of the month?
I recommend shopping the off-season for good basics to complete your seasonal wardrobe.
I’m a big fan of Retail Me Not and I adore that they are out of Austin, TX and that you can customize your app to you. You can tag your favorite stores and search for coupons on the go as well.
I use the application when I’m out at a store to save even more or if I wasn’t planning on purchasing something that day. For example, I was doing a work project and I had to pick up a few things at the craft store. I used a coupon from Retail Me Not. I wouldn’t have otherwise because I left my coupons at home.
Gap is one of my favorite stores for basics and always has specials on Tuesday. Some stores have so much sale they put it in random locations. At North Star Mall they have the entire sale women’s section in the maternity section (which I never would have found if the manager hadn’t told me it was there). Also, they usually have additional discounts, so I wait for those times instead of buying full price.
Usually stores stash sale on the left hand side in the back of a store. I always start there and I never worry too much about the sizes because it’s on sale for a reason. I also recommend friending an associate which is something that everyone should do if you frequent a store often. Let them know your style preferences and what you are looking for. Most stores have specialists that can help. I like to do this with people who have style like mine or have good style I admire.
Explain the process of selling your clothes to the thrift store.
My main experience is to sell to Buffalo Exchange (full price store in Austin now)-I recommend bagging up a selection of things you want to get rid of. They take men’s, women’s, accessories, shoes and jewelry. Make sure that all of the items are in fair to good condition, are washed, zipped, and lint rolled.
The best method for Buffalo is to pile them in a bag and bring everything you’d like to get rid of. Sometimes they surprise me by what they take, and don’t take, and all stores are a bit different. I recommend bagging accessories separately like small necklaces and earrings and keeping shoes at the bottom of the bag so that they don’t get anything dirty. Buffalo prefers to buy in styles from 1-3 years old, and on-trend styles, or classic pieces.
When you enter the store they have what they call a “buy” counter and a line of sellers. All you need is a valid ID or passport and a phone number to put in the system. You get 30% of what they price your items at in cash or 50% in trade or store credit. They will sift through your items and let you know what they are taking and not taking. Don’t get offended at this part- much of the buying is subjective and sometimes style preferences and intake vary. They will complete your buy and show you where to cash out, or you can look around to use some trade and take part in cash.
Recommendations of where to sell designer goods.
Poshmark-I find people counter offer too much on here compared to other sites
Locally: Otra Vez Couture Consignment-High-end consignment shop. When you go into the store ask for their pamphlet on How to Consign with Them. Some tips. They welcome currently styled, better-label and high end designer apparel. They also take J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Chico’s and Talbots. We saw a lot of Chanel, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin, David Yurman, Stuart Weitzman, etc. All items must be authentic. All clothing needs to be in current season. You can choose to be paid in cash or use as credit in the store. This consignment shop is very, very nice!! Employees were great and helpful as well.
If you could pick one person to go thrifting with, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I think I would love thrifting with any of the famous stylists today such as Rachel Zoe who has an extensive love for vintage, or J.J. Martin, an Italian Fashion powerhouse.
Name the top 5 items you’ve found for a steal throughout the years.
- Balenciaga City bag for $80
- Brand new Furla bag for $35
- Tiffany & Co. heart earrings for $30
- St. John classic knit skirt for $1
- Hermes Texas Limited Edition scarf for $1
What is your advice for someone who wants to find great, fashionable deals, but is intimated to start thrift shopping?
JUST DO IT. I think most people fear things because they are unknown. You don’t have to stay in the store long, but make a list of places, and go check them out. Just be aware that it will take time and effort to find things. I recommend trying on anything that catches your eye, and taking your time going through the racks of clothing, because it will be worth it. Don’t forget to check out the home sections, men’s section (for over-sized pieces), and accessories. For a new thrifter try and find the best thing you can under $5! When I get in a rut with my finds I do that and the challenge never disappoints. Sometimes going with a friend can be awesome too because they can challenge you to try on things you usually wouldn’t pick for yourself and laugh at the crazy things you see to take the edge off.
Tell me how to shop an Estate Sale and how to find the best ones
This is the best resource for finding sales in your area. My favorite day to go is either Thursday or Friday when the sales start and you can check out all the deals or Saturdays when everything is half off. Saturdays are my favorite day because they usually cut big deals on things if you bargain. Make sure that you have cash, or checks with you, some take cards. To find the best ones I recommend looking at the pictures, descriptions, then go check them out.
What makes your soul flutter?
Expressing myself through fashion! Everyday for me is a day to face the world in a new fun outfit- complete with a bargain to boot!
If you take a look at Ali’s Instagram page it’s apparent that she loves nothing more than a good deal and a mirror selfie. My jaw dropped when I found out…
SHE GOT THAT FOR WHAT?!?
Buffalo Exchange: $25 after trading in 2 pair of shoes and 2 pants
H&M dress~Brand new Marc by Marc cross body bag~carved bear fetish necklace~sterling and turquoise ring
Buffalo Exchange Outlet: $7
GUCCI loafer heels
Goodwill Outlet: $10
Justin boots, 2 blazers, 2 dresses, 2 shirts, 1 velvet clutch, 1 belt
Buffalo Exchange: $1
Tracy Reese dress
She didn’t buy….but what a find!
Buffalo Exchange: $2.50
White Elephant Thrift: $5
Buffalo Exchange: $4
Tory Burch skirt
Buffalo Exchange: $7
Amanda Uprichard dress
Buffalo Exchange: $2.25
Estate Sale: .75 cents for long tube, $4.50 for glass jar
As for me, I highly recommend Nordstrom Rack, H&M and Old Navy to find deals online. Locally my Stella & Dot stylist Christina Welch has 2 events per year where she sells her jewelry samples very cheap! And current designer handbags can be bought twice a year during Last Call sales at full priced Neiman Marcus stores.
And guys (if there’s any reading) I saw tons of great deals for men too, especially shoes! It’s a great way to stock up on essentials.
I have to admit. After shopping with Ali I can say I’m already addicted to thrifting! Buffalo Exchange and Otra Vez are both really, really amazing stores here in San Antonio. I can’t wait to frequent them consistently now. I’ll leave you with my Top 2 favorite items purchased. First, the Pour La Victoire BRAND NEW shoes I got for $6. They average $250-$295 retail! Also these turquoise butterfly earrings. Remember when Charlotte on Sex and the City wore the necklace version by Van Cleef & Arpels? Well, I went searching forever for it! I about died when I saw the earrings today for $25.
Buffalo Exchange Outlet Address:
145 West Olmos Drive
San Antonio, TX 78212
Monday-Saturday 11 am-7pm
Sunday 11 am-6pm
Boysville Thrift Store Address:
307 West Olmos Drive
San Antonio, TX 78212
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Otra Vez Couture Consignment Address:
4222 McCullough Ave.
Olmos Park, TX 78212
Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
Living with soul,