Thrift Shopping for the Holidays

Michelle and Ruth help check out customers at Second Act in Iowa City.

With Halloween officially over and the holidays approaching, thrift stores are starting to ask their customers to bring in old sweaters and festive apparel that could be worn to the annual office Christmas party. The National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS) predicts a large increase in sales for the resale industry this holiday season. Seventy eight percent of thrift stores that are NARTS members say that their sales increased, at an average of 35 percent, within the past year. Since resale has evolved from the image of dark, musty junk stores, to well displayed stores that offer value and selection without the new-price markup, consumers are heading out to thrift stores to not only do their wardrobe shopping but to pick up unique gifts during the holiday season.

Second Act consignment and resale store located in Iowa City is getting ready to accommodate to the needs that the holiday season brings. They’ve recently cleared their store of Halloween costumes and are bringing out sweaters dressed with sequins and tinsel, gifts that mom will love, and an outstanding supply of quality winter coats to prepare themselves for this years holiday shoppers. While the resale and thrift shop industry continues to grow annually by 7%, the holiday season is helping bring a surge of new business in.

Melissa Williams, owner Second Act, first saw the rise in sales during the holiday season 10 years ago. She noticed that the stigma of dirty “used” second hand clothes was slowly leaving the industry and the trend of wearing vintage was on the rise. Williams works hard to stay on top the of the industry trends by asking her customers for donations that will help the store thrive. Each year she sets aside a stash of festive apparel that will suit her shoppers during the holiday season. Second Act is also the only place in Iowa City that offers costumes year around.  The store is one of the largest second hand stores in Iowa City and has rooms to separate the costumes they have to offer. Whether you’re looking for a fantasy, 80’s, or western themed costume; Second Act has a room designated for each look that you want to disguise yourself in. Williams and her bookkeeper Ruth, both have seen growth in the store within the past few years. Ruth recalls a time where vintage was overlooked and now she points out different girls in the street wearing vintage clothes and sees high end retails shops designating a section of their merchandise for vintage apparel.

If you’re trying to catch the trend of thrift store shopping, this holiday season is a great time to start. It’s much easier to find something of higher quality and a lower price at a thrift store and the satisfaction of finding the “it” piece is priceless. Whether you’re saving some money this holiday season or surprising your friends and family with a unique one-of-a-kind gift, thrift stores can help you accomplish it all. For more information and tips on holiday shopping at thrift stores, follow this link for a list I’ve put together using pictures, tips contributed from different people, and videos to help you get into the spirit of Holiday saving.

Below is a list of thrift stores in Iowa City where you can get your holiday shopping started:

Second Act

538 Olympic Court Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-338-8454
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5:30pm,  Saturday 1pm- 5pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm

Crowded Closet

1213 South Gilbert Ct. Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-337- 5924
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5:00pm,  Saturday 10am- 4:30pm, Sunday closed

Stuff

1027 Highway 6 Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-338-9909
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 8:00pm, Friday – Saturday 9am- 5:00pm, Sunday 12pm- 5:00pm

Goodwill

985 Highway 6 East Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-337-3548
Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday 9am – 6pm and Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Artifacts

331 East Market Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
Phone: (319) 358-9617
Hours: Monday – Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday 10am- 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Decorum

323 East Market Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
Phone: (319) 354-2183
Hours: Open on Saturdays (hours are not listed)

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How to Style Thirfty Finds

Now that you’ve accepted and taken part of the thrift store world, you’re probably wondering how to pull off all these new clothes. You don’t want to look like a walking cartoon wearing three different prints. You hope to resemble those cool girls that hang around Urban Outfitters or that shop at Nasty Gal.

You’ve got the clothes, now all you need to do is style yourself.

By using this nifty new social media tool “Storify” I’ve carefully collected a list of articles, images, and YouTube videos to help you create a look for yourself from the clothes you thrifted. I hope these tips and tricks inspire you to do something different with your wardrobe; try something new by pairing together some items that you never thought would work together. Pair a fitted blazer with a funky printed blouse or try a velvet garment in the fall that will keep you warm and trendy.

Follow my link here to help style your freshly thrifted clothes.

Photo:

xo

Elvira

DIY Glitter Shoes

Everyone needs some sparkle in their life, and with New Years Eve just around the corner why not invest in some mod podge and turn your old beat-up heels into something fabulous.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 jar of glitter
  • 1 bottle of mod pode
  • Tape
  • Paint brush
  • 1 pair of thrifted shoes

Step 1: In a bowl mix your modge podge and glitter together. The consistency should be 80% glitter and 20% modge podge, and still a little runny.

Step 2: Tape off the area that you would like to glitter.

Step 3: Apply your first layer of mod podge to the shoe and let it sit for an hour

Step 4: Once the first layer is completely dry apply two more layers of your glitter + mod podge paste

Step 5: Take the loose glitter and completely cover the already mod podged area

Step 6: Wait a few hours until the glitter is completely dry

Step 7: Once it’s dry, carefully peel off the tape

Step 8: Say hello to your new & improved shoes!

 

xo,

Elvira

Goodwill Hunting

The picture above is my shopping cart at Goodwill, I found so many things they let me bring the shopping cart into the fitting room!

This weekend I took my friend with me to our local Goodwill. It’s been a few years since I’ve been digging around at Goodwill. The one thing Goodwill is always good for is funky, cheesy, and amazing sweaters. My friend was nervous about our shopping trip, it was her first time at Goodwill. Unfortunately Goodwill has a stigma for being “dirty” or  a place where poor people shop. On the contrary it is one of the main places where growing teenage girls, wealthy middle aged woman, and old people with amazing vintage clothes donate their goods. Goodwill is the creme de la creme of second hand shopping.

One exciting thing about Goodwill is that none of their merchandise is priced. It is color coded ranging from $1-$5. It’s so cheap that they don’t even have to price it! If you can get over the fact that the clothes are second hand, it’s a shopaholics heaven.

What experience have you had with Goodwill?
xo

Elvira

REfurbished Tweed

I’m wearing: Vintage yellow stone necklace from the 40’s, Polka Dot Top from H&M, vintage tweed skirt, and beige bow flats found in a second hand shop.

While I was out hunting for my next find, I came across this tweed skirt. The first thing that caught my attention was the quality of the tweed and the beautiful colors woven through turquoise. When I first held it up to get a better look, I knew the length had to go. Here is my photographed journey of turning this tweed skirt into something worth showing off.

What you’ll need: a really cool tweed skirt that needs some attention, scissors, buttons, thread, a hand sewing needle, and a steady hand.

First: Try the skirt on and decide what length you want. I found safety pins helpful in trying out different lengths. Once you’ve decided on a length, have a friend be your fit model and cut the skirt while being worn. This will ensure precision and an even cut.

TA-DA

Look! You can see my knees. (gasp)

I did a raw cut with no hemming. This just means that I left the edge of the skirt untouched after it had been cut. I think this adds a rugged look to the feminine skirt.

Now, Details. By now you know that I love the little details. It’s frosting on top of the cake. It’s necessary. I purchased this skirt at Crowded Closet in Iowa City, IA, and this second hand shop also has buttons, needles, fabric, etc. I picked up a set of gold cabochon buttons to add to the pockets. I hand sewed two buttons to each pocket by hand.

And there you have it! A tweed skirt that doesn’t look like something your grandma would wear.

This skirt cost me $2 and the buttons cost $2. My grand total is $4 for this chic steal that will look amazing with a pair of black tights and leather booties in the fall.

xo,

Elvira

For Better or for Worse

As I start to develop this blog, there comes a time and a place where I have to answer the question of “What is your blog about?”

Usually I give the brief description of a thrift store fashion blog because, I love fashion, obviously.

Tonight I was challenged with, “Those stores are ruining the economy.”

Sure, you can argue that. Besides that being an overly dramatic statement, thrift stores do in fact provide us with dirt cheap clothes. These clothes are usually in good condition and sometimes you can even find designer names, *gasp*.

Although thrift stores are on trend and gaining popularity with college students and people between their early 20’s and late 30’s, I don’t agree with the argument. Earlier this week I interviewed Kate Martens, a thrift store enthusiast and she mentioned that buying used clothes has a stigma attached to it. It’s this stigma of not wanting to be the girl/boy shopping at Goodwill and coming across as not having money.

If your like me and you love shopping but don’t have the budget for new clothes, thirfting is your Paradise. Since trends repeat and styles turn over, with some searching and patience you can have the trendiest clothes and do it for next to nothing. Better yet, everyone loves the word “vintage”.

Vintage = Cool

So if thrift stores are doing better and corporate chain stores are not making as much, we’ll survive.

Keep thrifting,

xo

Elvira

 

Vintage blouses

Now that it’s officially the second day of fall I’ve started looking for warm thrifty finds to add to my closet. I love this time of year because you get to layer and layer yourself up and not look ridiculous. It’s also fun to take two different prints and layer those to get a retro- unusual outfit.

These two shirts I adore. Both were purchased at White Rabbit in Iowa City, the store is an absolute treasure chest of goods. I find the quirkiest clothes there but it’s sort of boutique-y so you aren’t paying the dirt cheap second hand price. These two shirts cost me 25 dollars together. The first shirt reminds me of something that Lisa Frank would create after drawing unicorns and rainbows. It’s very MIU MIU meets Marc By Marc chic.

The second shirt is GINGHAM. For some odd reason, I obsess over gingham (& polka dots). The burnt orange gingham shirt is a button up with a straight panel covering the buttons and only exposing a large vintage button on the color. It’s just the right amount of detail to compliment the already loud print. This shirt is over-sized so I plan to wear it with distressed leather boots over black skinnys for a causal but polished look.

And this is what fall has brought me so far…
x0

Elvira

Artifacts

Todd Thelen is very successful at what he does. Todd is the owner of Artifacts in Iowa City, nestled on the corner of N. Market and Gilbert. It is a visual treat walking into Artifacts on a grey day in Iowa City. The walls are covered inch to inch with various works of art. Furniture, toys, and trinkets tower around the store competing for your attention. It takes a careful eye and patience to not miss something great.

Artifacts is a phenomenon among the pickers, thrift store lovers, and collectors. Todd has customers travel from all over the country to pack up their trucks with his vintage goods. Todd even has a customer fly in from Japan three times a year. He’s always on the lookout for items that his customers will want. In order to be successful at this he’s set standards for the items his store sells. He’s looking for mid-century products and leaving behind the antiques. The once thriving antique market is dead and Todd is ahead of the game picking modern products of the Eames generation.

Besides the overwhelming amount of items in the store, one thing that’s hard to miss is the overall atmosphere. As if Iowa City wasn’t small enough, Artifacts feels like its own community. People walk in and around, exploring each nook for a treasure someone missed. Todd greets almost every person by name and a warm welcome before showing off his latest thrift find.

Todd has a strong customer base and a few regulars that come in every day checking in to see what’s new. Steve is one of Todd’s serious pickers. He travels hundreds of miles across the Midwest each day looking for that great buy among the junk. Today he’s come to the store with news that the infamous “marshmallow” sofa is rumored to be for sale nearby. Steve and Todd marvel over the sheer possibility of Artifacts hosting this one of a kind sofa, or modern work of art. In anticipation, Todd already plans to put the marshmallow sofa in the display window. The marshmallow sofa is considered to be the most iconic of the modernist sofas.

With a steady rise in the thrift store market, Todd is holding on tight and trying to not get burned out. The stores motto is, “If it’s boring, we don’t have it.” His niche is that he has cool stuff and it doesn’t cost a fortune. He has something for everyone, whether its 50 cent vintage stamps, Prada shoes, or modern sofas, there will be something that fits your budget. Last week I found a vintage Christian Dior sweater for 12 dollars. It’s safe to say that I almost fainted.

80 percent of the items in the store are consigned from the people who shop there. Before consignment Todd spent his time searching for the one of a kind items at antique shows and now they come to him. Todd thinks that the trend for thrift stores and second hand items can be correlated with the recession and consumers wanting to save money. People have realized that they can get a product of higher quality for half the price. Artifacts is growing rapidly and successfully with each year in business. Their only obstacle is space. Todd finds that the location of Artifacts is a critical factor to its success and doesn’t plan on moving despite the need for more room. Margaret Roberts, one of Todd’s full time employees, tells me that it can get tight but the merchandise goes out as fast as it comes in.

As I finished up my interview with Todd, Steve let me in on a secret. From his many travels across the Midwest to find the greatest of thrift, vintage, and antiques. There is no place out there like Artifacts. It has the furniture that New Yorkers will spend tens of thousands for and the charm of a small town community of genuine thrifters. Not to be confused with those personalities you see scripted on TV. Margaret tells me that it’s the best job she’s ever had.

It’s definitely worth a visit.

xo

Elvira

Bleach Gradient DIY

While the ombre trend is dying, I think a more subtle gradient will transition better into fall with a modern feel. I love that denim shirts are coming back & this is a great way to take something casual and add a little jazz. Admit it, you still love the ombre.

1.) Hang the shirt on a hanger upside down. Make sure the shirt is buttoned and that the collar is popped for even results.

2.) Find a wide bucket and fill it with 2 cups of bleach and 4 cups of water. Evenly submerge the shirt into the bleach and have it sit there for an hour. Bleaching effects change between different types of fabric.

3.) After an hour, take the shirt out and hang it in the shower or outside to absorb and dry. Once semi-dry rinse the shirt out with cold water and have it air dry.

4.) TADA! After the shirt is completely dry, add some gems to the pocket with super glue. I also dipped the cuffs into the remaining bleach for some jazzy detail.

Good Luck!

xo

Elvira

Tips to Thrift

Thirfting can be an overwhelming experience for all your 5 senses. The store could resemble a neglected warehouse with low yellow ceilings and the distinguished smell of old cardboard boxes might even discourage you. Most stores do us the favor of color coordinating which will save you from going blind. I always have to remind myself to not go overboard with the patterns, cue my love for miu miu. These are my tips to savvy thrifting, that will hopefully save you from that impulse buy with red and white unicorns all over it.

1. Be patient There will be plenty of gadgets, shirts, cardigans, and velvet to observe. I always start with the printed items then go to basics that are DIY worthy. Sometimes you will find something excellent and ridiculously cheap. Other times you’ll end up with nothing.

2. Always try it on I don’t care if it costs a dollar. Please try everything on. Chances are there might be holes, stains, and odd flaws that go unnoticed on a hanger. Keep in mind that you are trying on old clothes with old designs, sometimes the fit is too 90’s for our own good.

3. Buy prints with caution I understand that you want to be bold and different, maybe even a man repeller. Some prints can turn out disastrous when they come home with you and your roommate see’s your newest find. I always ask myself how I can style the shirt/skirt/pant, and if so, what combinations can I make with my current closet.

4. Shop in small doses It’s very easy to go overboard. It’s cheap, it fits, you are inspired by Pinterest. I get it. Just remember, quality not quantity.

5. Smell it A wise woman will check the armpits of a used shirt before buying it. My sister once reminded me that dead people wore these clothes.

Till next time,

Elvira

xo

If you have any smart or funny tips, please share them with us!

Photo cred: Thrift store Polaroid