“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.”
― Karl Lagerfeld
I swore off ALL online shopping this year; so as I languish with withdrawals (I was seriously addicted!) and actually save a decent amount of money — I bequeath to you, dear reader Tangible’s 7 tips for online thrifting, and my favourite online thrift stores. Enjoy!
But first — Context!
Shopping is no longer an act limited to walking a shop floor. People with all budget ranges can now shop online. Consumers have been able to purchase pre-owned items online for longer than we think (Thanks, Ebay). Online thrifting isn’t a new ‘phenomenon‘.
Is online shopping actually cheaper?
Yes: A shopper could theoretically save money on the cost of transport (petrol/parking/public transport) and avoid the temptation of “Oh, I’ll just pop into here because I’m at the shopping centre/might make a day of it”. The retail mark-up can (in some cases) be less exorbitant because there are no staff to pay to serve you. Stores you follow via social media can have ‘flash’ sales (I.e. 25% off for the next 48 hours).
No: A shopper pays for delivery more often than not, and if you buy overseas/express P&H can be $$$. Also, a shopper could also lose money when shopping with the day’s exchange rate (if buying overseas). Spending rates have been reduced to ‘bursts’ in the Aus. Economy (EO and mid year sales) – and retailers are responding by having year-round discounts to try and even it out to prevent the sector from contracting continually.
A few fun facts from the Australian Bureau of Statistics:
- In 2009, the domestic online retail sales for all sectors of the economy were estimated to have totalled between $19 and $24 billion.
- In 2008-09, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Australian internet users aged 15 years and over used the internet for making online purchases, up from 61% in 2006-07.
With that in mind, just as I gave you my op-shopping tips in the article I penned for Stella Muse “Thirfty Fashionista: Op shopping & Upcycling“, it is similarly important to shop ‘smart’ online:
Tangible’s 7 tips for online thrifting/op shopping:
1. Set up a Paypal Account. You can link a PP acct directly to a bank account or a Credit Card, and you can move money into your PP acct (this is a good way of sticking to a strict budget if you have one!). Paypal is universally accepted, and means you can avoid typing in your credit card number/address each time (another level of protection for your personal details); the money is securely debited by Paypal.
2. Attention to detail. Read all descriptions of your item carefully, ask questions of the seller (if possible) and ensure there is at least 2 high quality photos of the item.
3. Check shipping costs. Most sites will have a “Shipping and Returns” -type tab where you can check shipping rates. On a medium like eBay, you can message the seller and ask them to what postage services are available by their national service (I.e. Express, registered, Sea mail, Air mail etc.).
4. Measure up – Know the length of your feet, waist, torso, hips, bust. You can often request measurements (including skirt or trouser length), which you can use to compare on yourself by using a tape measure, so keep one handy(!)
5. Question, Question! Do I need it? Does it go with at least 3 other things in my wardrobe? Do I already own something similar?
6. If possible, sleep on it. Impulse buying is not limited to being in physical shops. This something which has helped me to start curbing my spending. I found some things I needed on Monday, and not so much by Thursday.
7. Follow the site on Social Media. Some stores will often post pictures of incoming pieces on their social media outlets, which can give you the jump on something rare/amazing/one-off.
I recently purchased a genuine, vintage Chanel cross-body bag from an American thrift site I discovered via Instagram – Thriftermia (Tm). I spent four figures ($,$$$), and this was an incredibly important transaction for me, one of the highest amounts I have EVER spent (barr plane tickets).
I first sighted the bag on instagram (where it was posted for sale just before it went on the site), and after about a week of ‘window shopping’ it (having the site tab open on my phone and computer) – I direct messaged Tm and asked some questions of the bag, the shipping rates to Australia (because I had tried to purchase things before from their site, but they wouldn’t ship to Aus.) and for some additional photos. Over the course of a couple of days, I received my responses (Tm is set up in Miami, USA so responses were bound to be a bit disjointed).
The transaction itself was super simple. Late one night, Tm and I were online at the same time and I decided to confirm my intention to purchase the bag. I requested Tm send an invoice directly to my paypal account for the amount we agreed on for the bag, and it was sent within minutes. All I had to do was ensure I had the correct money in my bank account to be debited, and I completed the transaction via Paypal within 20 minutes.
I received my bag in the first week of January – a stellar turn-over time given I purchased just before Christmas 2014 (accounting for all public holidays and seasonal delays).
Thriftermia are very well deserving of their place in my top 10 online thrift stores. Good, attentive, customer service is still so important. My bag was in truly excellent condition, tissue paper and plastic wrapped in a box with bubble protection. And, as a bonus a percentage of their sales goes towards an international charity.
Word of mouth is one of the most valuable commodities for retailers, and it is something they cannot buy. So share your positive experiences.
Bonus tip: Remember you manners — Facebook, Instagram, Tweet or Email a thank you! Everyone loves a happy ending!
And in the event that you don’t love your item, send a polite email to the site to resolve any issues and coordinate the return, according to their policy.
Thrift doesn’t mean ‘dirt cheap’ online, but more heavily reduced, excellent quality goods (often designer) Again, it depends on your budget 🙂
Finally, Tangible’s top 10 online thrift stores:
1. Ebay – My first thrift site, I have bought and sold extensively — you need to have a specific idea of what you want. I.e. “Black off the shoulder vintage dress”
2. Thriftermia – Based in Miami, Florida. A new favourite — follow their instagram! They do Men’s stuff too.
3. Frock This – An online and real world store! West Aussie residents can visit Gemma in Fremantle (address on the site), if you can’t – she updates her Facebook page regularly!
4. I-ELLA – Have been a member of this site for 5+ years, you sign up to browse.
5. Vaunte – Recommended to me by a colleague last year, love it. Can snag yourself a crazy-good high end discount here!
6. Harlees Closet – follow her insta, she posts cool new stuff all the time. Great for lower budget thrifters.
7. Thredup – Discovered via Google! looking forward to searching this site a bit more in depth.
8. Karma Couture – Discovered via Google! looking forward to searching this site a bit more in depth.
9. Walk in my Closet – Discovered via Google! looking forward to searching this site a bit more in depth.
10. Websthriftstore – Discovered via Google! looking forward to searching this site a bit more in depth.
If you find anything, or want to chat all things thrift: @thetangibleblog (twitter and insta) and ‘The Tangible Blog’ (Facebook)
Hope your enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy writing (……and shopping!)