June 5, 2012

The Conscientious Thrift and Consignment Shopper

I’m a huge fan of thrift and consignment stores. It’s fun, it’s a bargain, and you can find amazing items that no one else has. What’s not to love?
As a frequent shopper of these establishments, I’ve picked up on a “code of etiquettes.” Many of us might take for granted that shopping is still a very social experience, so, as in all social settings, it’s helpful to be aware of the unspoken rules that guide the thrift and consignment realms.

Below are a few real stories along with some sage-thrift advice for all of us consignment/thrift addicts out there – and for those soon-to-be converts still getting their feet wet. These somewhat humorous examples are meant serve as helpful and constructive ways to keep in mind the rules surrounding this fantastic shoppers’ sport!

Scenario No.1

The “It’s Mine” Shopper
Shopper: “Hey, Sally, didn’t you used to have this sweater.”

Sally: “Yes! That is my sweater. I brought it here last week. Funny! Oh, here is another top I brought here, too.”

Sally can then be seen walking up to another shopper: “Hey, that skirt in your hand was mine, too! I loved it. Kinda fit me weird, but will look okay on you!”

Moral of The Story: Don’t walk around the store declaring “this was mine” (even if it is true). The fact of the matter is that it can make people uncomfortable.

Scenario No. 2

The “Always Have a Coupon” Shopper
Sales Associate: “And your total is $75.82”
Shopper: “Oh, I have this 50% off coupon! Hang on; it’s in this purse somewhere. Shoot! I think I left it in the car. I’ll run out and grab it.”

The eager shopper soon returns from her car with coupon in hand.
Sales Associate: “This only applies to items with prices ending in .98. I’ll have to void out this transaction and start over.”

From the loudspeaker, the following rings out through the store: “Manager to the front. Customer forgot to present coupon before the sale.”

Moral of the Story: It can be easy to forget, but if you have a coupon, remember to tell the sales associate at the check-out counter before she stars ringing things up. Many times the coupons are only good for certain items on specific days. It can cause trouble for her if she has to go back through your entire purchase to be sure your items qualify for the discount (not to mention this slows down the people behind you).

Scenario No. 3

The “Oh, Excuse Me” Shopper
Shopper 1: “Oh, excuse me. I’m just trying to get to those shirts over there.”

Shopper 2: “It’s okay.”

While full of politeness, this conversation is repeated at least 10 times over the next 15 minutes. Ultimately irritated, the second shopper leaves the store.

Moral of the Story: It’s a great tip – shop the racks in the same direction as the other shoppers. This sounds crazy, but if you don’t do this, you will be stumbling all over each other rack after rack.

Scenario No. 4

The “This is Priced Way Too High” Shopper
Shopper 1: “This is a ridiculous price to pay for something that is used!”

Shopper 2: “Really? I thought that was a rather good price.”

Moral of the Story: Be careful in how you verbalize concerns about the prices. If you think some items are overpriced, your best bet is to take your concerns to the manager. It is considered bad manners to complain loudly about the prices to others in the store. They may find the prices to be right-on or even very inexpensive.

Scenario No. 5

The “It’s My First Time Here” Shopper
This story is from a shopper: “I was shopping around a local thrift shop last week. This woman was talking to me as we shopped. If she said it one time, she said it a million times, ‘I don’t usually shop at places like this.’ Was she trying to impress me? It didn’t work. I do shop at places ‘like this’ all the time!

Moral of the Story: The fact of the matter is that we think it’s cool to shop thrift and consignment! There’s no shame in it. It’s smart; you can find amazing pieces and things no one else has. If you don’t shop this way frequently, those of us who are seasoned pros can likely tell, so there’s no need to feel self-conscious or let others know that this is your “first time in the store.”

So the next time you’re out hunting for steals and bargains, keep these stories and etiquette tips in mind and remember to be the conscientious thrift and consignment shopper. It will make your experience, and the shopping experience of those around you, all the better!


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