Cards on the table, I was definitely one of those people who started thrifting before Macklemore decided to make it a whole thing because secondhand is cheap and I loved the weird thrill that comes with finding something unique or something that’s actually way more expensive than the thrift store thinks it is. As a student, thrifting lets me shop within a limited budget and also lets me practice slightly more mindful consumerism. As accessible as fast fashion is, it’s hard to justify the price tag when you are (painfully!) aware that the company isn’t 100% ethical in their practices. Talk about problematic faves.
So if you’ve been wanting to get into thrifting I have some tips for you in this post as well as recommendations on where to go if you’re in Kitchener-Waterloo!
- Keep your expectations low. People really only post their best finds but it doesn’t mean you should expect to walk into any thrift store on any given day and come out with something neat. Especially if you’re just getting into this, treating it as more of a casual browsing experience will yield more positive outcomes.
- Be on the lookout for fabrics and blemishes. I have a lot of wool clothing that’s thrifted so if I pick up a sweater or coat at the store I always go to the fabrics tag and check what the quality is. Since the clothing is pre-owned, you want to make sure that you give it a good once-over for rips, stains, holes, etc.
- Wear clothing that’s easy to change in and out of. This helps make the fitting room situation more bearable if you’re trying on lots of things. Otherwise, I usually wear a neutral tank top so trying on sweaters is speedier and doesn’t need an actual fitting room.
- Try to go with relative frequency if you’re really focused on finding awesome deals. There’s a lot of turnover in stock so you might be missing out if you only go occasionally. Obviously, that’s not a concern if you aren’t into thrifting hardcore but if you want to be more regimented, going often is key.
WHERE TO GO?
563 Highland Road W., Kitchener
Mon – Fri: 9am – 9pm
Sat: 9am – 6pm
The classic thrift store experience. I would classify the SA in Kitchener as a medium-sized location. I’ve primarily only found sweaters from this location but your results may vary.
- Don’t forget to check out their coupons page in case you were on the lookout for those items!
- You can take the 12 bus from campus and also grab McDonalds or A&W after your thrifting.
1144 Courtland Ave East
Mon – Saturday: 9am – 9pm
Sun: 10am – 6pm
Super far even if you have a car. Better load up some podcasts if you’re busing because this place is an hour from campus. Luckily you only have to hop on the 8 the entire way but it’s a trek for sure. The store is pretty large and I’ve found some nice pieces there the last time I went.
- Students get 10% off every day!
- They have different items on special each day that’s typically 50% off – I’d call and see what the special is before you go.
- If you donate to them you can also get a coupon for 30% off your next purchase.
- This location gets busy so if crowds aren’t your thing, the sale days will probably be too rowdy for comfort.
- From Jan. 22 – Jan. 24 2018 they’re running an event where you can save 10% on a purchase of $25+, 30% if you spend more than $50, and 50% if you spend more than $100! Bring your friends to this event!
120 Ottawa St N. Kitchener
Mon – Sat: 9am – 9pm
Sun: 10am – 6pm
Haven’t actually gone but did want to include it on the list because it’s a classic thrift location as well. I can’t speak for this location but all my other experiences with VVs in the GTA indicate that they’re on the pricier end of thrift stores. They aren’t even necessarily better quality, just weirdly expensive.
27 Scott St, Kitchener
Mon – Wed: 10am – 5pm
Thurs: 10am – 7pm
Fri: 10am – 5pm
Sat: 9am – 5pm
A much smaller store and also not a well-known place like the others on this list. I stumbled upon it during one of my many jaunts in DTK. Their selection is pretty small but also pretty cheap. I’ve almost always found something that I like at BFM but I wouldn’t hold out for any exciting luxury labels.
- They are partnered with Vicinity for their loyalty card so you can get 1 point for every $10 you spend.
- They have a lot of nifty glassware if you’re plant obsessed and are looking for more containers for your neverending succulents.
700 Strasburg Rd., Kitchener
Mon – Fri: 10am – 9pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Not a classic thrift store because it’s more like an affordable consignment store. Plato’s buys their merchandise instead of just accepting donations so the pieces you’ll find here are much more in style and up to date. You can even make an appointment to bring in your pre-loved things for some extra cash (to immediately spend at their store). I found a surprising number of Aritzia branded things here and they also have clearance items at 70% off, which is crazy cheap.
- They are also partnered with Vicinity and you get 1 point for every $10 you buy or sell and you can redeem 10% off at 30 points or 20% off at 40 points. You also get a bonus point if you bring your own bag!
Another consignment store and finally something that’s in Waterloo as opposed to Kitchener. I find that often their things are more like retail prices at a slight discount but there are occasional gems. It’s very well curated so if your style matches up to theirs you’ll probably have an easier time finding something you like because they already did the initial legwork.
- You can also make an appointment with them to sell your clothes if they’re still in good condition and are the styles/labels they’re looking for.
Let me know if there are other places you think I should check out. Happy thrifting, friends!