Thrift store retail therapy high is arguably even better than, well, retail retail therapy. Sure, you can hunt department stores for a shirt or pants you’ll love. But is it really a “hunt” when they’re right there on display, easy to find? Not to mention that the store can only fit so many different styles in at a time. And of course, you may not like the latest fashion trends.
In a thrift store, however, you have to really hunt for treasure, scouring the aisles with an eagle eye, lest you miss the perfect thing that may be half-hidden among the rest of the offerings. You have to stalk the perfect items by going through shirts one by one, getting the soothing repetitive motion of moving shirts to the side so you can better see the next one on the rack.
Then, of course, there are bragging rights. The prices you can boast about at a department store tend to pale in comparison to the ones you’ll get from secondhand clothes. It adds to the sense of triumph when you finally find what something you want.
Finally, there’s the euphoria. The high from shopping can be a sexy, sexy beast, and it’s hard to resist its… Um… Mating call? I didn’t think this metaphor through.
The point is that there are several benefits to thrift store retail therapy — ones I rediscovered over the last two weeks as Mom and I went looking for FinCon attire.
Alas, the problems with thrift store retail shopping are plentiful.
Retail therapy will usually cause you to riddle your closet with things you don’t necessarily need. But it’s exponentially worse at thrift stores. Prices are low enough that it’s easier to rationalize getting more items. Things you’re almost totally sure you’ll wear. Probably. But it’s only $5, so isn’t it worth the risk? I managed to only pick items I knew I’d wear, but it was a battle.
Then there’s the fact that even small purchases add up. Four or five shirts can mean you’re $20 (or more) poorer. Forget the latte factor, regular thrift store visits could become a real drain on spending!
And regular visits are tempting thanks to the last and perhaps biggest problem: deal FOMO.
You get such a good deal and such great finds that you just want to keep going to more stores. Or you find nothing but are sure the perfect shirt/pants/home decor item is somewhere on a rack or shelf, just waiting for you to find it. It’s the shopping equivalent of buried treasure, no map needed.
This time around I got four shirts (two for daytime FinCon events, two for nighttime social gatherings) for just $15.92 at Saver’s.* Then a few days later I hit a 50% off sale and got five casual shirts (for running errands without looking like such a schlub) and one last dressy shirt for $14.
Great deals, and they’re exactly as much as I need. But I kept feeling a sharp yearning to go back out. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the thrift stores I could still search, all the great clothes that were out there. About how my new favorite shirt was almost certainly out there, waiting for me. I worried that I was missing out on great finds.
Like I said, I got exactly as much as I needed. But even as I write this, I’m tempted to go out and search the store closest to my house. Just one more hit, man. Then I’ll be good, I swear.
Do you struggle with deal FOMO?
*Fun fact: Saver’s* is apparently part of Phoenix’s Swagbucks Local, so you can earn SB just for being a money-smart shopper. Not a member of Swagbucks? Check out my Swagbucks for Beginners post to learn about the program — and how easy it is to get free gift cards!)