Top-quality fashion at rock-bottom prices
Carlo Modequillo (The Freeman) - June 25, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — A young man wants to update his wardrobe; he wants to upgrade to a more dapper look. But money is hard to come by and he only has a thousand pesos budgeted for this, well, big project. How far will his little money go?

Far enough, actually – if he knows how to find ways. What he lacks in bucks the young man may fill up with creativity. He needs to be realistic and know where to go.

The thrift shops – yes, the ‘ukay-ukay’ stores! – may be a brilliant option. That’s the destination if the young man wants his scarce money to go far. Most ‘ukay-ukay’ stores sell top quality, gently used fashion items at a tiny fraction of the original prices.

But there’s some ‘art’ to it. The young man has to learn how to find those hidden gems in the ‘ukay-ukay’ store. Jonathan Smoyer, in an article at the website, gives some tips:

Know what can be used and what can’t.

Ninety-nine percent of the time all of the things found in a thrift store are donated items. Make absolutely sure you know what you’re getting and what condition it is in. Most clothes have been donated because they don’t fit, are out of style, or just don’t look good anymore. Be sure to check clothing for rips, missing buttons or zippers, stains or other obvious damage. Also keep in mind that the size tags (if any) may not be accurate; fortunately, most larger thrift stores have dressing rooms where you can “try before you buy.”

Know when to pass off something.

Just because MC Hammer made a fashion statement with parachute pants does not mean you can do the same thing. Let’s face it, some clothes are just downright ugly and should be left on the rack. Now you may not be looking at a pair of bell bottom jeans, but take the time to make sure that suit coat actually looks good on you before you buy it. Take a trusted companion with a sense of fashion (example: a wife, girlfriend, or some other member of the fairer sex) who will be honest about how things look on you. Just because it’s a bargain does not mean it will look good.

Know where to look and what to look for.

Not all thrift stores are created equal. Make a point to visit all of the stores in your area and take the time to really search through them. You will soon find out which stores carry the best merchandise. Some stores are organized and others are more of an organized chaos that will take more time to search through. Also know what is ‘quality’ and what isn’t. Feel the cloth that things are made of, is it a cheap weave? If you’ve found a coat, is it really well made? Are the buckles plastic or metal? Know what makes a quality product and go for those products.

Know when to clean it.

Most of the clothes in thrift shops are clean. However, it is a good idea to invest in some dry cleaning for those secondhand suits, and maybe a run through the washer for those new old pants. This will get rid of any lingering smells that may be unpleasant and leave you with no question of its cleanliness.

Time your visits smartly.

Expert thrift shoppers go every day to their favorite stores and most go to more than one. Set up a time each week to go to your favorite stores. Figure out which days the stores in your area re-stock their racks and at what time they do it. Try to arrive as close to that time as possible. However be forewarned you may have to fight a crowd to get through the store. Be consistent and visit as many times a week as you can manage.

Those are very helpful tips no doubt. To add to those, the thrift shopper may ask to return items, if ever. The “ukay-ukay” store owner may cite certain conditions for returns; but regular customers may be treated with leniency.  Besides, there’s no harm in asking.

Some people keep away from “ukay-ukay” shops. They are not comfortable with the idea that the items there have been previously used by others. Truth is, many items carried by “ukay-ukay” stores are brand new, surplus from the factories.

What’s the problem with being thrifty? What’s wrong with getting the most with scarce money? Pioneering American rich man John D. Rockefeller said: “I believe thrift is essential to well-ordered living.”

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