Things to know

A Beginner’s Guide To Thrift Shopping In Jamaica

If you’re thinking about thrifting in Jamaica there are a few things you need to know. One, it’s not for the faint of heart and two, it’s not for the impatient. Searching for the right item for you can take minutes or hours. Even then you can make a purchase you regret.

Want to avoid buying the wrong item? Completely new to thrifting? You’re in the right place. I’m about to share my top tips for thrifting beginners.

Please note that these tips were developed particularly for a Jamaica context but should be applicable elsewhere. If you’re looking for thrift stores to shop at check out my list of the best thrift stores in Jamaica

Thrifting takes time.

It’s not like walking into your favourite boutique with a small selection of clothing items styled to perfection. It’s quite the contrary. Your perfect item may be buried in racks upon racks of clothing so pack light, dress comfortably and prepare to be in it for the long haul. That amazing item is waiting for you to find it.

You’ll need a list.

When I go thrift shopping I often end up with items I don’t need and didn’t intend to buy. To avoid this I suggest making a list and slotting a figure to that to stay on budget. Before you head to your favourite thrift shop think about the items you really need and how much each item should cost. You should know the cost if you’ve shopped there before but if not we’re in the social media age! Google that store! They’ll probably be on some social media site promoting their wares.

Once you’ve got a handle on the cost you can decide if that’s within budget and if there’s room for more things. After making those decisions you’re ready to shop.

For back on the rack you can use $5000JMD to get more goodies than you can juggle in both hands (depending on what you buy).

Bring your shopping bag.

Jamaica is on the road to becoming a plastic free space and I’m in complete agreement with this move. But! This means our handy scandal bags are no longer available for storing goods. Alternative paper bags sometimes have to be bought.

So if you’re thinking about going shopping in Jamaica bring a reusable bag with you, always. Otherwise be prepared to buy a reusable bag or a paper bag.

Bring along a good friend or person who knows your style.

To avoid making the wrong purchase it’s good to have a second pair of eyes to help you make your choice.

Sometimes I get caught up in how amazing an item is that I forget that it’s really about how it’ll look on me. I find asking myself “Can I rock this?” helps a lot.

But having a person you trust to judge your choices with you is a good way to combat the ‘buy every cute thing’ fever.

Be open to redesign.

Sometimes your perfect find might need alterations to actually fit you but don’t let that stop you. When thrifting you’ll need a balanced eye. What do I mean? You need an eye that can see the potential in an item. As well as an eye that can see when there’s no hope in making an item suit you no matter how cute or stylish.

This balance is necessary in thrifting because the possibilities are always going to be endless but you also can’t buy every single outfit with the idea of overhauling it completely.

Oftentimes good finds are not bought but they’re made. Which is another decision you’ll have to make before thrift shopping. If you have a good tailor or seamstress on speed dial that can bring your vision to life I say go for it. Redesign!

Check for damage

Before you hand over your cash. Check your items for any major or minor defects. Pre-owned items can be loved gently or roughly so a thorough check can keep you from making a purchase you regret.

Somethings can be fixed and other things can’t. Look out for rips or tears on clothing. Cracks in glassware and any other signs of wear. If the plan is to repurpose an item you can probably skip this step but if you want to buy a shirt and wear it as a shirt you’ll probably want it without any rips. So do you checks to suit your purpose.

When your checks are done, you’re all set to purchase and take your goodies home.

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