Another Perpetual Frugal Fail (or Win?) – Acquired a Thrifting Addiction

Acquired a Thrifting Addiction thrift-store-shoppingAh, the saga continues. Remember about 3 weeks ago, I wrote out why I hated my clothes and what I was going to do about it? It was my one perpetual frugal fail where I mentioned my guilt of pursuing fast fashion over quality and utility?

I’ve tried to correct that and it has not gone how I wanted it to go in my head. I cleared out my closet of the things that I knew I could upgrade and not likely wear again. I took good photos of all the things I wanted to clear out and put them on eBay. So far though…not very many things of mine have sold. It’s almost been a month and I’ve made 17 sales. I have 50 items still up, ready to be cleared. The items I put on eBay from Hubby has sold. He sold his belt buckle and a fuji-film camera. Puppy sweaters and jackets that Grace outgrew sold. Household items we don’t need anymore like couch covers and coloring books, all sold. A few of the items I thrifted in passing, sold as well.

Most of the things I sold were unrelated to me.

See, it is hard to unload fast fashion especially if there’s no brand behind it for visibility (in eBay searches), baseline (expectation of quality) or trust (brand awareness).

I cleared a total of 2 pieces from my closet but one piece was returned because the buyer didn’t know his wife’s size and begged for a return. So really, I just sold off one thing. Counting the money I wasted shipping the misinformed buyer his package, I’m in the red.

Not good.

An adorable sunny yellow top of mine with a lace peter pan collar for just $2.99 and no takers, for weeks! It’s freakin’ cute and looks like something out of Anthropologie (if you ignore the lackluster workmanship.) I think my big problem is visibility. My listings are lucky to produce 10 views for the weeks they’ve been on. Without a name, they’re lost in the eBay sea of death piles & merchandise.

My clothes goes to cover the shipping cost and eBay fees. Trust me when I say there’s hardly any profit. I just want to declutter. But when your closet is full of Forever 21s & Wet Seals, it’s hard to stand out. There’s currently over 100,000 Forever 21 items under women’s clothing. I’m not hopeful of any of it selling as fast as I thought it would.

Anyway, this isn’t even the frugal fail part.

I promised myself I was going to clear and sell off all of my old clothes before I get new clothes.

Well, that didn’t happen.

I don’t know what happened actually. Usually I’m very good with things like this. I have good self-control, usually. But I kept going out to thrift stores – one after another – to get clothes for myself. Being the curious cat that I am, I went to the thrift store on the good side of town. That’s usually the standard advice for thrifting nice clothes. If you want nice things then go to the wealthier neighbors. The thrift store in the wealthier part of town tends to have better donations sourced from people who can spare to donate higher-end things.

Curiosity took the better part of my judgement and I took the bus to the bourgeoisie part of town where there’s a fancy consignment store. I know it sounds like an oxymoron to put consignment and high-end together but it’s actually really cool. Unlike other thrift stores, they don’t host any types of sales, random bins or even a rack for clearance.

They’re not typical ‘thrift store cheap’ but the prices are reasonable because the inventory is better. It is not hard to see why this place has a 4 stars on Yelp. It’s clean. It’s not good for flipping (prices are simply too high) but it’s a frugal way to buy quality clothes. They have their own tags and bags. I went in expecting nothing. I didn’t even grab a shopping basket.

Everything went fuzzy from there.

Apparently the people on the bourgeois side of town love pink and being size 2s – just like me! The women’s section was huge. I mean the store itself was huge but ⅗ of it was dedicated to just teen & women’s clothing. I was there for almost 4 hours and I only browsed through ½ of the women’s inventory.

Time lost itself in there. There were a lot of things that were all so cute. I wanted everything.

I found some things worth flipping so I couldn’t resist. But the vast majority of my shopping cart, I noticed, just happened to be clothes…in my size and my taste.

Gee, Lily, how convenient…

It was too late. The store was closing in less than an hour. My basket has now disappeared under all the clothes I’ve piled into it. It is spilling over and I’m in love with my new clothes mountain.

The sales attendant person came over and said “um, do you need a cart? I can bring you the cart over there…
Me: (.___.)
“No…no…it’s OK. I’m almost done-” I lied.

It was getting late and I couldn’t put all the clothes back.

Thrifting Addiction!

I don’t know what happened. Check out totaled around $160 – including the store credit I had transferred over. Most of the things in the thrift store averaged $5-6 a piece. I came home with 30+ pieces of clothing that were almost all blouses, sweaters and pullovers for me. That’s all the sections I was able to get through from the giant women’s section.

I’m not crazy. I know we can afford, but I was just shocked at my own lack of self-control. I went home and looked through my pile and you know what I said?

I said “this is still really cute stuff. What an amazing store. When can I go back?”

D’oh! I’m…afraid of stepping into that store again to be honest. I’m proud with most of my haul but there’s some guilt there.

I failed to get rid of any old clothes that I had.

I now believe my clothes aren’t even good enough for eBay. If I donate them to the thrift store, they’re not likely make the cut either, so they’ll end up in a landfill somewhere by the holidays.

Which leads me back to…then why am I trying to get rid of these clothes? Why not start wearing them until they wear out. No one is going to look at me anyways when I’m hanging out in house 90% of the day. It’s not frugal to get rid of clothes that provide basic utility. It would be more responsible for me if I just kept & wore them if no one wants it or have use for it. But I already spent money on new clothes. I knew that if I didn’t clear my closet first then I would have literally piled on more clothes. So now what I’m left with is a batch of older, semi-wearable clothes that no one wants, that l’m not sure if I even want to get rid of…and a mini mountain of new clothes that I don’t really need.

FAIL!

I can’t return thrift store items because, well it’s still a thrift store. They work for charity. All sales are final. If you have to, you can return it for store credit, but honestly that comes off petty. The house is even more cluttered than a month ago. It definitely looks like it’s going to explode now. It’s hard to make room and do inventory when you have even more inventory.

Alright, that was my frugal fail rant. It’s not so bad, just a gloomy update because I pictured it so well in my head.

Positive Power!

On a brighter note, I’m happy that I found a really cool local thrift store nearby that I can picture doing all my family’s clothes shopping from now on.

For now, I’m going to continue selling my old clothes on eBay since it’s all up anyways. When October officially rolls around, I’m picking them apart again for the ones I really “don’t want” vs the ones “I’ll wear until they bore holes.” I’ll sack the “don’t wants” on a one way trip to the donation bins.

Lastly, I am not going back to that store until I’ve cleared some room first.

[Update]

Whoop, I lied. I went back and spent some more money yesterday. I told my husband that store is dangerous to me but he didn’t want to come with me. In fact, he said he needs new clothes so we’re going back again this week. Sort of happy – sort of scared. But the saving grace is, during my second trip, I found a Jason Wu leather blouse for $6 when the last sold online price was…get this…$537. That officially beats my Prada shoe find which was also a one-in-a-thousand stroke of luck! Yay!

The blouse is one size too big for me unfortunately or else I would keep it because…Wu is boss. Even hubby agrees. I also found an old leather jacket by Preston & Knight for $8 that may be worth a few hundred dollars according to Wikipedia *excitable giggles* but there are no comps yet. If there are no comps, it’s worthless until I find some. This turned out to be a very polarizing post…not sure if this was a frugal win or fail. =_=;

What do you guys think?

[Update again]

Just tracked down a main thrift outlet in the city that has bins of merchandise sold by the pound. Hello, new weekend plans and the thrill of it all. Bringing my gloves and adorable baby seal mask for the hunt. Hubby think I’ve lost my mind but it’s fun.

– Trash Panda Lily



26 thoughts on “Another Perpetual Frugal Fail (or Win?) – Acquired a Thrifting Addiction”

  • Haha I love this post! What went on in your mind is exactly what happens to me when I go shopping sometimes. I need and have self-control, but when I see some beautiful clothes, I tend to come up with a series of reasons to justify the purchase.

    It’s so cool you sold so many items on eBay. 17 items in 1 month is pretty impressive! My clothes are so old and worn I doubt if anyone would want it. And oh the shipping process. I wish they could just show up at my door, and I could give it to them in person. >_<

    Your post motivated me to go thrift shopping this weekend (danger alert!). The thrift stores near our house are not very good. I need to go to a wealthy neighborhood to see what the rich donated!
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…3 Frugal Bloggers Turned Millionaires Overnight

  • Sounds like you got some really good deals! At some point it doesn’t matter how good of a deal it is, it is still more stuff in your closest. As far as you old cloth, I would just give them away (charities, new immigrants), it is not worth the effort to try to sell them on line. Maybe a garage sale?

    • Great idea Caroline! I think I’ll end up donating it all. I’ve been to my neighbors garage sales, they have pretty good stuff 😮 mine would be worthless to them hahaha.

  • Thrifting definitely takes a lot of patience and willpower. I used to be really into “flipping” designer items, but for whatever reason, people didn’t seem interested in purchasing 50% of my items [even at a steep discount]. Thrifting sounds so fun!! If I’m in the Seattle area with Mr. NA, maybe we can go together? I hit up a Goodwill last time I was there, but it was SO expensive- we’re talking $20 for a jacket that wasn’t even a major designer.

    • YESSSS LET’S GO LET’S GO HI GO HI! Did you go to the one in U District?! They have black tags which is what I call sucker tags. Someone needs to tell them Express is not high end clothing. If you’re not afraid we can go to the bins!

  • Gosh, your thrift finds are awesome. Everything around here is e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e in comparison, even in the suburbs.

    I do textile recycling for my old, worthless clothes. Not worth the hassle trying to sell them online.

    Also, uh, what size are you? Because that Jason Wu blouse is bomb and I would take it off your hands in a heartbeat.

  • I’m so boring and out of touch that I don’t even know who Jason Wu is! Have you tried to see if each item “sparks Joy” a la Marie Kondo? If it doesn’t spark joy donate it! We have these donations bins all around town which makes it easy to get rid of clothes.

    There are also consignment stores which you could resell your amazing finds for $$ too! I bought some Lanvin Ballet flats for $40 (regular price $400) but the frugal fail part was I was dropping off clothing to consign haha.
    GYM recently posted…Norbert Gambit: How to Convert CAD to USD in Questrade for $6

    • I had a really weird dream that the Preston Knight leather duster I thrifted spoke to me. In speech bubbles (it didn’t actually talk I’m not that nuts.) It told me to find a use for him and then I woke up. Weirddd.

      Ah Ms Kondo, I’ll be donating 40% of my closet now xD!

  • I went thrifting this weekend, too! I only bought three things, though: a pair of Levi’s that were too big, a 70s plaid shirt, and a Uniqlo sweatshirt. Thrifting used to be one of my favorite activities, but it’s changed over the years. Less vintage stuff and more fast-fashion nowadays, which is sad.

    You should just donate that original batch of stuff, unless you find it fun to put things on eBay. But sometimes you just have to let go, especially if it’s a clutter issue.

    I’m glad you found a newfound source of clothes for the family. I want to see pics on Instagram!
    The Luxe Strategist recently posted…Five Things I Learned Taking a Break from New York City

    • Since I’m talking to a sage here, was this from the Cincinnati? Why a 70s plaid shirt? Is there a difference to the make?

      Selling on eBay is not fun. Technical issues and tedious! I’ve settled on donating most of the clutter, I just hope the thrift store donation receptionist doesn’t judge me for my slum clothes…:p

      I’ll share whatever wins I acquire on Instagram 🙂 it’s at least sort of related to finance!!! 🙂

  • I’d LOVE to hear about your designer ebay flips. I think one time I tried to flip a Ted Baker men’s button down I found for cheap at Salvation Army and got no bites…thus the end of my ebay flipping days. :'( I feel you on the guilt of donating items that no one will buy on ebay! But have faith that some of it will be accepted! I used to be a huge thrifter but I realized I would be blinded by deals and buy a bunch of things I never end up wearing. I should try again some time though because maybe I have enough willpower + know myself a little better not to anymore!

    Yeah, actually like someone said above, a garage sale is a great idea! My parents used to buy me Old Navy tshirts from yard sales because they didn’t think it’d be worth buying new considering I was growing out of stuff constantly.

    Totally not meant to be self-advertisement, but if you have some time read some of the quotes in my latest post, I literally felt SO much better about the “waste” and just letting go after I read Marie Kondo 🙂
    Jing recently posted…The Personal Finance Changing Magic of Tidying Up

    • Lol Jing I did read that post (screen reader as usual) – Am I A Minimalist is the one by you’re referring to right? The one about hoarding and Kondo. You basically described my “it’s cheap, so I’ll take 2” mentality.

      I have things from a thrifting deathpile (that’s the official name) – basically I learned not everything goes hence there’s those 99 cent auctions on eBay. I’m no expert but I’ll definitely share my experience, probably on the next income report 😀

      • It’s the one I posted yesterday (Personal Finance Changing Magic of Tidying Up)! But actually lemme just sort of post what I quoted here!

        “Then why did you never wear it? Was it because you realized that it didn’t suit you when you tried it on at home…it has fulfilled another important function–it has taught you what doesn’t suit you. In fact, that particular article of clothing has already completed its role in your life…you are free to say “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me,” and let it go. (P. 60)”

        Well there’s a lot more to it, but she’ll just say things like, not every item you own is meant to stay in your life forever, just thank it and let it go. Sort of like taking a lesson from it and not beating yourself with guilt over it. 🙂
        Jing recently posted…The Personal Finance Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • Lily, take it from me (I have sold tons) – eBay is not the place for Ladies clothes. Men’s clothes only. You want to sell Ladies clothes on Poshmark! Just don’t get addicted to it!

    Also, don’t just look at the clothes at the goodwill pay by the pound outlet. I have made thousands of $$ selling the random stuff I find there. And yes, gloves are a great idea.

    Hope you find the mother of all finds!
    MrDoublingDollars recently posted…What’s The Most Cheapskate Thing You’ve Ever Done?

  • I had a very similar experience the first time I went to a thrift store and actually looked through the clothes. I used to always go once a year to get a Halloween costume but one time I started browsing while I was waiting for my boyfriend to finish up…and I felt like I struck gold! I always wrote off thrift stores thinking everything would be junk but I was amazed by how much I found and brought home (and so, so cheap!)

    I don’t think I’ve hit full addiction levels yet 😉 but it’s now my go to if I have a craving for new clothes but don’t really need something specific.
    Sarah | Smile & Conquer recently posted…10 Free Things I’m Loving Right Now

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