Thrifting in Lakeland, FL

Living in Lakeland has its perks and thrifting is one of them. Thrifting is something I became really good at when I was 18 and had the shallow pockets of a freshman in college. Searching for unique pieces of clothing, furniture and books that I could afford gave me a thrill, not to mention that I was simultaneously contributing to a non-profit, saving landfill space and giving back to the community. If you're asking what is thrifting and how do you thrift, this is the post for you!

What is considered a Thrift Shop?

  • Thrift shops sell items that have been donated by people for various reasons (death, no longer wanted items, etc...)
  • Clothes are sold as is and are often not checked for stains, rips, or holes.
  • Clothes, books and furniture are cheap—like under $3 cheap.
  • Thrift stores are loosely organized. You may have to dig a bit to find gems.

Why should you thrift shop?

  • You find great items in amazing conditions for a fraction of what it would cost you in retail. That means you save money!
  • You give back to the community! Stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army have a mission and purpose like, when you purchase an item, you are providing jobs for people who may not be able to for health or financial reasons; churches that have thrift stores help sustain the work that they are already doing in their community. Your money goes a longer way than Forever 21 could ever take it (and no, I am not hating on FXX1, just putting things in perspective).
  • Because you are spending less, you can put more towards savings, investments and retirement (you are never too young to consider these things).

Why Do I thrift?

  1. It's fun, relaxing and full of adventure! 
  2. I collect Christian books that have been out of print and they are only found in thrift stores (I have many autographed Christian books this way, win!).
  3. I am a high waist clothing addict. My love for the fashion of the previous decades keep me coming back for more. Despite my small measurements, I find a lot of fitted clothing in "like new" conditions.
  4. Vinyl records are rare and expensive otherwise. I have scored vinyls for $1 many times.
  5. I like to imagine who the previous owners were and what were they like. It's like owning a piece of history. That, to me, is priceless.
  6. I will buy anything on sale, especially something I am going to use often. Why would I not buy shorts that are $4 and have a 50% sale on top of that?
  7. I attach value to the items because I "found them in (enter name of city here)" and it is something I can look back on. It makes for great memories and stories.

My favorite stores in Lakeland:

  • Dixieland Relics - The majority of their pieces are hand picked from estate sales and garage sales but their prices are affordable and they do accept donations.
  • Lighthouse Ministries
  • Salvation Army - I love, love, LOVE this store. Wednesdays are 50% off all clothing, along with a colored price tag of the day. The workers are incredibly helpful and will give their opinion on what you're trying out if they spot you out of the dressing room with it (The dress with the red bow was highly suggested for me to purchase by one of them, lol).
  • Goodwill - This is one of the best Goodwill stores I have shopped in because of the amount of inventory it has. I always find things that are my size and almost brand new. However, they don't offer discounts and it's a little pricey for the kind of store that it is. You might spend less than $20 for a few items instead of $10, which makes it more like a splurge thrift shop.
  • Goodwill Outlet Store - This is for professional thrifters mainly because things are in large bins and you are digging through them along with 20-30 others (depending on the time you go). Many of the items that get donated to Goodwill go through this store first if the superstores don't have much room for inventory. It is kinda like having a first pick at donation bins. You have to come prepared with gloves because you never know what you're going to touch next. And although a little unpleasant at first, you find INCREDIBLE things at OUTRAGEOUS prices. You pay for things by weight instead of item category, so you get more bang for your buck. I have walked away with bran new FXXI clothes from here. Like I said, this is for dedicated thrifters who don't mind being piled in a big room with 20+ polk county folks (most of them who are very poor and desperate) digging through clothes, books, plates, cups, DVDs, and all sorts of other things. In my opinion, this place is worth mentioning

Other Useful Tips:

  1. Eat Something. Never go thrifting on an empty stomach.
  2. Stay hydrated. Always have a water bottle throughout your thrifting!
  3. Bring a friend who is cheerful, adventurous and not the same size as yours! I brought Ashley P with me and there were pieces of clothing we tried for ourselves that didn't fit but ended up working for the other! Don't bring friend who shops retail exclusively, they will be bored.
  4. Have a list of items you are looking for. On this particular day, I was looking for overalls. I found an overall dress for $5 that worked great! However, I tried a 90s dress (shown above to the right) that fit perfectly and had a 50% off. The dress would have been around $2 but I knew I was not going to wear it often so I left it on the rack. Having a list helps you keep focused.
  5. Do NOT buy clothes that "need" work. This was a mistake I made early on and I had to go on a thrift fast because of it. I had a closet full of dresses, shirts and skirts I wanted to "work on" but had not time and motivation to actually go through it (and the pieces I finally ended up doing did not match up to my standard of living—aka, they were more like fashion pieces I would never wear!).
  6. Wear clothes that you can easily change out of. Thrift store dressing rooms are not always the best, and some don't even have any! Make sure you are wearing something comfortable like what I am wearing below: snap button skirt and button shirt with sandals. Bring a hair tie to make things easier as well.
  7. Have a budget. I spent less than $30 on my last trip to the thrift stores. It would have been around $15 if it weren't for the brand new keds I bought for $10 at the Goodwill Superstore. But, they are brand new keds in my size so I can't complain too much.
  8. Wash and disinfect everything you purchase. First thing you need to do when you get home is wash the clothes you bought and clorox wipe all other items. I am especially careful when I buy shoes because feet fungus is a common reason why people get rid of really nice shoes. Cleaning them with clorox wipes before using them has worked for me so far.
Books: $1 each; Vinyls: $6; Brown Keds: $10; Shorts: $2; Red bow dress: $4; Overall black dress: $2 // $26 spent on last trip

Books: $1 each; Vinyls: $6; Brown Keds: $10; Shorts: $2; Red bow dress: $4; Overall black dress: $2 // $26 spent on last trip