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Cheap and chic

When I walk into a thrift store, the smell of the older clothes that have a past overpowers me and reminds me of all the times I’ve been there and all of the things I’ve bought. It’s almost like when you walk into your grandparents’ house. This is the unique smell that thrift stores have. And it’s one of my favorite smells in the world. 

This may sound strange to some people, but I love clothes that have been worn before. My family has saved so much money by shopping at thrift stores instead of at stores like Target, Kohl’s or Forever 21. It lets me have my own style and express myself the way I want to. 

I have so many clothes from thrift stores—my jean jacket, a bunch of floral dresses, and tons of button-ups and jean shorts. I always get compliments on this baby blue tank top which has flowers on it that I love, and it makes me happy to think that it’s pretty much one of a kind and that I got it for much cheaper than at a department store—it was only $4.99!

My dad is an expert at thrift store shopping—he finds designer shoes for my mom for $20 and when he goes online at home he finds out the original price was $200. Because of my dad, I know how to thrift store shop. When you find something you like, you need to immediately see if there are any stains or damages on the item, because those are common reasons why people donate things. Once you buy something, wash it at home before you wear it because you never know if people washed it right before it was donated. Also, sometimes if something has a tiny hole or a faint stain, the people at the store will let you bargain the price down. 

Photos by Emily Bader, 15, Cleveland HS (Reseda)

The thrift store that I shop at the most is the Goodwill on Beverly Boulevard. When I walk in I see several sections: women’s clothes, men’s clothes, furniture, shoes, electronics, etc. It’s very organized. It’s almost always clean and there are dressing rooms with full-length mirrors to try things on. A shirt or blouse costs from $2 to $4, while shorts, skirts and pants are $3 to $5. However, a nice jacket or a designer pair of shoes are around $15. 

Some of the clothes are actually new

Movie sets donate leftover outfits with the price tags still on them. I have a red button-up shirt that had been used for a TV sitcom, though I don’t know which one. The Goodwill manager told my dad and me that a truck had just come by to drop off about 10 of the same shirts from the set. 

When I was little, I was embarrassed about going thrift store shopping. I thought the clothes were dirty because someone had already used them. My friends were getting new clothes from places like H&M and Urban Outfitters and I wished that I could have brand name clothes and be just like them. Whenever anyone would ask me where I got my clothes because they liked them, I would lie and say that I didn’t know because I didn’t want everyone to know that my family didn’t have a ton of money. 

When I was in eighth or ninth grade my best friend Hannah suggested that we go to Goodwill, and that’s how I found out that I’m not the only one who can’t afford to always buy brand name clothes. The next time someone asked me where I got my shirt, I proudly said Goodwill. That’s when I found out that many of my friends love thrift store shopping. If we want to go shopping, we plan our day so we can stop by all of our favorite places. We start at the Goodwill on Beverly, because it’s the one we like the best. We also go to Out of the Closet on Fairfax, which has funky hats and boas from movie sets, but also regular clothes. We also like the National Council of Jewish Women on Fairfax, where I love bargaining over the price of whatever I’m buying.

One time I was with my friends at Wasteland, which is a pricier and more vintage-looking thrift store on Melrose. We started trying on the really high heels and the funny dresses with huge skirts or weird patterns, while taking pictures and giggling like crazy. We got kicked out for “disturbing the other customers.” It was pretty hilarious! Even if you don’t find something that you like, you and your friends can definitely have a good time at any thrift store.

Thrift stores in the Los Angeles area

Multiple locations throughout Los Angeles County and Southern California. Go to locator.goodwill.org to find stores near you

Out of the Closet
Thirteen locations in Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach. Go to outofthecloset.org and click on “Locations”

National Council of Jewish Women
Nine locations in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Go to ncjwla.org and click on “Find a Location”

Three locations in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Studio City. Go to www.shopwasteland.com and click on “Store Locations”