The Best of Thrift Shopping

80s teal leather jacket and striped pants
(this is not officially what I thrifted… all original photos have disappeared)

Shopping at Goodwill {and the like} is not for the weak stomached. It’s smelly. It’s dirty. It’s gross. If you’ve been to one, you already know all this. However, if you’re on a mission to find great vintage and/or thrift pieces, it’s a one-stop shop!

A flea market is a fantastic place to find great and one-of-a-kind pieces that other people buy at places like Goodwill or estate sales and try to sell to you at double or triple their cost so they make a profit. The same goes for “Vintage” shops. And while they do have great stuff, you {usually} won’t be getting the greatest deals on the planet for used items. You’re paying for the ease of having them hand pick the items, clean them up, and display them in appealing ways.

I like being the one to find the “find” at the greatest price ever. Half of my closet is based on this principle and many of my favorite finds I’ve had for years and hopefully will have for many more years to come. It also usually means that I am the only one who has this particular piece. Which to me, is priceless!

{This great hobby of mine may have started when I was a kid. My best friend Rosie lived with her grandmother who owned laundry mats all around Simi Valley. If I spent the night at Rosie’s house on Friday night, I would accompany Rosie and her Grandma B to all the laundry mats to collect the coins from the machines. There was one that was next door to a thrift shop and behind the store were two large dumpsters filled with belts and shoes! I know this sounds grosser than gross but we would “dumpster dive” right in have a field day in there! We came home with so much stuff. And it was all free!}

I used to go to this massive thrift store in Burbank called The American Way. God was that place gross. But it was also divine.

When I first started going around 1995, in my late teens {man I am old!}, the prices were so insanely low. Like $1.69 – $2.99 for everything. And I mean everything. But this was before the huge vintage craze started. It was before any cool people knew about this store and only bums shopped there. To this day I still have pieces in my closet from then. {and actually, prior to that, there was this little and disgusting place on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City called “Claudia’s Boutique” owned and run by this skinny old lady, Claudia, where my friends and I would rummage to find old Levi’s – She was the best for finding the best fitting and fairly cheap old Levi’s}

Then Ebay happened and within a few years, EVERYBODY and their mothers were shopping at thrift stores trying to make a buck. And you know what? Prices went up. I mean, it’s still super cheap but remember, you’re buying old, dirty, clothes that someone else used to wear. Really, how much do you want to spend when you have to go home and clean them up just to wear them?

So last Saturday I went to my local Goodwill and strangely enough, it was rather eventful.

I pulled in the parking lot and got a space right in front of the drop off center. where I dropped off a huge bag of old t-shirts my husband doesn’t wear any longer.

As I was getting out of my car, I saw a man {who looked like Zach Galifianakis} walking in my direction. I knew he was up to no good because when I pulled in, I saw him talking to a man who seemed to be ignoring him. I took that as a sign that I should ignore him as well.

He was wearing a tweed trench coat with no shirt on underneath …and pants and as he walked up to me, questions abound, I just said “I’m sorry” and continued walking towards the drop off center. He called me a bunch of names, and asking me why I wouldn’t listen to him, I replied “Because it feels like you are following me and you’re scaring me now!” {which really made me giggle actually}. He yelled “I’M NOT FOLLOWING YOU” and started walking toward the main entrance to Goodwill …right where I was headed next.

I complained a bit to the guys working in the drop off center, got my receipt and walked over to the Goodwill. As I walked in, I saw him to my right, harassing customers and yelling “I WAS IN VIETNAM” …which is totally impossible because he looked like he was in his 30’s.

About 5 more minutes of harassing ensued and he started heading towards the front doors, which was a good sign that we could all relax and get back to our shopping. However, as he was leaving, there was this lady crouched down and looking at the jewelry counter which was located by the front doors. I heard him ask her for something and when she ignored him he called her a mother fucker then YELLED the N word and slammed out the door.

Now, I’ve heard that word used before but really only by old people {who don’t know any better} “referring to” their pasts, comedians {I miss you Dave Chapelle} or “brotha’s” adding an “a” to the end instead of an “er” making it okay {I guess}.

But I have never heard someone actually call someone that name in an angry way and honestly, it was not only horrendous, it was totally offensive. As soon as I heard it, I looked in her direction and stuttered OMYGOD. And she just looked at me …so sad. It gives me the chills just typing it. I honestly couldn’t believe how offensive it was, to me, a white girl. I wanted to cry.

Sigh* It took a while to shake that feeling but I continued shopping because really, I had just begun! I was in the dresses section and already my arms were hurting from carrying so much. I think I went in the dressing room like 4 different times.

When I was checking out, I made them put all my finds in my be Smart be Green bags and my grand total was $134. I know it sounds like a lot especially since many of the finds went directly to the dry cleaner where I would spend more but honestly, I bought two bags full of great stuff that summed up to be less than half of what my handbag cost!

I paid with cash, and as I turned to leave there was a woman with a teenage daughter behind me who asked “Are you buying for others or is all that for you?” …and I said …Nope, it’s all for me! And I left, wondering if that was a dig or a compliment or a lesson to her daughter. I still wonder, actually.

What I found {and just picked up at the cleaners}: Oscar de la Renta, Chaiken, & Zara trousers, Paul Smith black label tunic with the tag still on, blue plaid Ralph Lauren linen button down {exactly like the red one I found there last summer}, Ralph Lauren brown tweed wool blazer, David Hayes cropped floral blazer, Zara cropped military jacket, vest unknown, little black dress Andrea Polizzi Rex Lester, long vintage black lace dress inspired by THIS, the vintage dress I wore yesterday, the vintage leopard blouse I wore last Friday …and many more which I’m positive you’ll see very soon.

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.


  • Rachel

    January 13, 2009 |

    Damn girl!!! I need to come shopping with you so you can teach me a thing or two. I don’t do well in racks…sifting through; I think I go to fast and miss a lot of stuff.

    What a steal!!!

  • Bon Don

    January 13, 2009 |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Bon Don

    January 13, 2009 |

    I love GW! Hubby goes for games but I take my daughters and we always find great jeans! (True Religion,Rock n’ Republic) They love it!

    *Bon Don*

  • kimber p

    January 13, 2009 |

    Love this post..I live at the two Goodwills in my town, I once found an old Raggedy Ann and Andy alarm clock for $4.99 and took it to a battery shop to have it cleaned and looked at..I sold it on Ebay for $126! (yes, I just heard a

    Goodwill rocks.

  • xphoebelinax

    January 13, 2009 |

    i’ve always wanted to go vintage shopping and my gosh i’ve tried… but it sucks here in australia… there’s nothing nice… 🙁

    i need to move to america PRONTO! 😛

  • ~alison

    January 13, 2009 |

    awesome! Nice finds! Can’t wait to see them on the model herself.

  • Kellie

    January 13, 2009 |

    I wish my local thrift stores would have finds like this! I can never find anything more than one piece at a time and it’s usually just “okay”.

  • vsmphotography

    January 13, 2009 |

    OOOHHH I’m green…green with envy! No way could you find amazing threads like that in Texas! You got your wranglers, and your worn out boots, oh and whitesh/grey t-shirts…but Oscar???? Damn girl, I’m jealous

  • J-Diggety

    January 13, 2009 |

    Your list of labels from GW is inspiring… but I wonder how many I’d actually find in li’l old Fort Collins, CO… doesn’t hurt to hunt, I guess!

    About that horrible man… I had an experience similar in NYC a few years ago, witnessing two young men screaming the same insult to the subway ticket lady. I felt like someone punched me and I wanted to throw up 🙁 I was stunned – I’m not delusional to think racism is 100% eradicated, but geez, I thought we’ve gotten farther than that…

  • AsianCajuns

    January 13, 2009 |

    That sounds like a very eventful trip! I can’t wait to see how you style all those great pieces you found!

  • C. Bowie Photography

    January 13, 2009 |

    Got many nice deals there!

  • Style Maven

    January 13, 2009 |

    that’s amazing! I tried Goodwill once, but gave up after ten minutes. This post made me want to try again! Which goodwill do you go to? The one I went to in LA wasnt so fab and had little to no designer labels…

  • Missy

    January 13, 2009 |

    I’m beyond jealous. I took my field trip today to Goodwill and you right, it’s smelly. I saw a lot of Ann Taylor labels but nothing of the designer variety. Boo.

  • Sweet Nothings

    January 13, 2009 |

    I live in Simi! YAY for the mention:)

    I actually tried to leave u a comment last week on your fab black boots, but it wasn’t letting me…I never vintage shop in the valley, i always go over to melrose with the masses, but maybe I should start!!

  • MeadowLark

    January 13, 2009 |

    You know the oldest Vietnam joke in the book is: What’s the difference between and hamburger and Vietnam?

    Um, I don’t know?

    Answer: That’s right man… you weren’t there… you wouldn’t understand!!!!

    Told to me by my uncle, so I can repeat it.

    Did you just see the thing about “What would you do if you saw a racist incident happen”. I guess this answer it. Great post and great haul. Saw you somewhere. I forgot right now though.

  • Savvy Mode SG

    January 14, 2009 |

    lots of good finds. can’t wait to see how you will put outfits together.

  • i.d.

    January 14, 2009 |

    WOW. You’ve just inspired me to give thrift shopping another go. I’ve dabbled a bit in e-Bay and bought the odd thing at the markets and second-hand stores but deep down I’m still a clueless about it.

    In fact – it would be awesome if you could give some tips on what to look for when you shop vintage!


  • NBO

    January 14, 2009 |

    Another great blog, Maegan. I have been following your blog for a couple of months now, and I always want to post a comment! I posted the suggestion last night for a Goodwill blog. I check your blog everyday and it always makes me smile. I used to go to “Thrift Village” in Plano, TX back in the mid-80’s when I was in high school. I AM OLD. Thrifting was definitely looked down on, and only a select few did it. These days I go to upscale consignment shops…..but I’m gonna go back to my roots and hit G.W. and S.A., too! Thanks for sharing your knowledge……you are delightful and lovely.

  • Megan

    January 14, 2009 |

    I LOVEEE Goodwill, but we don’t have brands like that!! Damn..I need to come to LA!

  • K.Line

    January 14, 2009 |

    Holy crap, did you score!!! I never have this luck at Goodwill. Do Cali stores have better stuff, I wonder. You saw more brands in this trip than I ever have at a thrift shop.

  • susan

    January 14, 2009 |

    You made out great! There is a place in Boston that has all the clothes strewn across the floor. People are literally crawling in the pile to find those little gems.

  • Penny

    January 14, 2009 |

    you guys are so lucky to have shops like that in america.over here we have nothing like that.which is a real shame,because i love vintage everything,and it’s to me a kind of way of recycling.can’t wait for you to show us all your finds.

  • B

    January 14, 2009 |

    You cannot find the good stuff like that at a Goodwill in Kansas. No way, no how.


  • Holly

    January 14, 2009 |

    so fun. love all your details! and score on the oscar find!!

  • Katy

    January 14, 2009 |

    I really miss the GWs in Indianapolis. There were 6 within a 5 mile radius and we would go to each of them once a week. We got so much great stuff, but the GWs in South Carolina are horrible. 🙁

  • Chris

    January 14, 2009 |

    I’ve been digging (literally) Goodwill for a while now too. And you’re right, it’s stinky and gross and there tends to be a lot of obnoxious people there. But I almost always find cool stuff. Good names too, stuff from Banana Republic, The Gap, Old Navy, etc. etc. and always in excellent condition.

    That comment from the creepy guy must have been horrible. I wonder why the employees didn’t call the cops or security or something?

    Glad you found so much. Isn’t it amazing?

  • Bruce

    January 14, 2009 |

    I have been shopping at Goodwill / Savers for years. I learned long ago, that everything I have ever wanted will show up there eventually, a little scratched maybe or stained, but 90% off retail.

    Most of what I end up buying is technical stuff for parts or other projects. My wife goes after the vintage clothes. It is our idea of a cheap date.

    We can never understand the folks in Scottsdale that spend $300 for a shirt….


    January 23, 2009 |

    I agree- I need you to shop with sista! I giggle when I find something Banana Republic! You’ve got some seriously cool thrift stores in your area!

  • Anonymous

    August 16, 2009 |

    Ok after discovering your blog a week ago I new I loved your style. After discovering that racism and racially ignornat comment bother the heck out you…I love you too lol. Its incredible how some people have become numb to that and thanks for Goodwill advise I will be hitting up my local one.

    Your new fan….Fashionista newbie & all around cool Black Chick Fran =)

  • Lorenzo

    March 17, 2010 |

    Oh my god this made my day! I remember Claudia’s boutique fondly. She always had some real treasures there, and always had a story to tell. I just found this blog, kudos for the amazing DIY’s! 🙂

  • Erika Melisa

    May 6, 2010 |

    man i wish the thrift and salvation armies in singapore are half as awesome as yours! i am jealous!=)

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