I know it’s been a hot minute since my last thrifting post, but I have news I wanted to share with fellow Edmonton-area thriftanistas: there is a new Value Village opening in Spruce Grove today! I know, because I ended up snagging an invite to a sneak peak at the new store (thanks to the lovely Nicole) and a $50 gift card to spend there, to boot.* Since Nicole and I are card-carrying #thriftingsisterhood members, we made plans to go together … and enjoy a little friendly competition while we were at it. Our self-imposed contest had 4 categories: which one of us could (i) score the best/biggest find of the night, (ii) get the most retail value for our bucks, (iii) score the lowest cost-per-item, and (iv) find the most Anthropologie pieces (but of course). The prize: bragging rights for ever. Or until our next thrifting adventure.

So, how did we do? Read on, friends.

Spruce Grove is a 30-40 minute drive from the south side of Edmonton (taking the Henday and then the Highway heading west to Jasper). It might sound like a long drive, but it’s not when you’re chatting about ethical fashion and planning your future as YouTube mavens (stay tuned!). Nicole and I arrived at the store a few minutes after it opened, and found it already packed. [The event was open to all Super Savers Club members, and if you aren’t one already — get on that. The membership card is free, and it gets you early access to sales (like VV’s periodic 50% off sales) and new store openings.] The store is quite large, but the racks were fairly tightly packed, which made it difficult to maneuver around other (many) shoppers. I dislike shopping on sale days for this very reason (big crowds overwhelm me), but it was worth it — there were some real treasures to be found. More on that in a minute. From what I saw, there was an extensive selection of women’s clothing, and a smaller section of shoes and bags. To be honest, I did not really get a chance to look at the rest of the store (house wares, kids’ stuff, men’s, etc.) but the glimpses I got looked promising. Someone ahead of me in the cashier line scooped a beautiful, mint condition Hudson’s Bay striped blanket, for example; it was priced at $80, which is not cheap, but significantly lower than retail. Prices in general were pretty typical for Value Village — not as low as Goodwill, but not unreasonable on the whole. I was particularly impressed with the prices for dresses, which were under $15 for the most part. In contrast, VVs closer to home will nowadays price most of their dresses at $16+.

I ended up finding quite a few cute things, including 5 Anthro pieces (the 4 below plus a Sparrow knit skirt which I did not photograph) … which won me the Anthro-spotting category. Hurrah! I bought one of the pieces (the olive Deletta top) and Nicole bought another (the multi-print Fei top).

Deletta top
Deletta top
A Common Thread top
A Common Thread top
Moulinette Soeurs top
Moulinette Soeurs top
Fei top
Fei top

The best score of the night belonged to Nicole, however. She found a gorgeous J. Crew Lady Day coat and some brand-new Marc by Marc Jacobs flats:

J. Crew Lady Day coat
J. Crew Lady Day coat
MbMJ flats
MbMJ flats

Although she won that category, I came out the real winner because I got to take both of those things home with me. Score!

To round out my purchases, I also got a pair of Nine West pumps (my favourite style — so, so comfortable), a mulberry-coloured, leather Fossil bag, a made-in-the-UK dress, and a Vince sweater.

Nine West pumps (left); Jean Michel Cazabat pumps (right) -- left those behind
Nine West pumps (left); Jean Michel Cazabat pumps (right) — left those behind
Fossil bag
Fossil bag
Naughty (?) brand dress - please excuse the terrible posture
Naughty (?) brand dress – please excuse the terrible posture
Vince sweater
Vince sweater

My total damage for the night was $120.68, including tax (or $70.68 out of pocket, after applying my gift card). The estimated MRRP for the stuff I bought was $1436, which means that I paid about 8.4% of the original retail value. That came to $17.24/item, which is a little high but not bad, considering that I bought some typically higher ticket items like a coat, bag, and two pairs of shoes. For those keeping score at home, Nicole beat me on the cost-per-item side of things, but I eked out ahead in the other category. Which means … we’re tied. Now, we had a lot of fun and found some great bargains to boot, but a contest is a contest and someone has to be the winner.

So, here’s the deal: head on over to Nicole’s blog tonight, check out her Spruce Grove VV haul, and then tell us — who should get to claim the bragging rights as bestest thrifter of the night?

*Value Village did not ask me to write a post in exchange for the gift card, or otherwise sponsor this post. I’m writing this because y’all know I love thrifting, and I want to encourage everyone to at least consider it. It’s cheap, good, environmentally-friendly fun!

18 Comments on Tales from the Thrift: Friendly Competition edition

  1. Love it! I’m starting to get into thrifting here in AZ – I’ve lost a lot of weight/toned up in the last 18 months and now there are a lot more options that fit me! I have a question – what do you consider a good price on really high end pieces? For example – I need a new coat that goes over business suits (all my work is in NYC/DC) and found a beautiful Italian cashmere coat that looked unworn. Fits beautifully. Price is ~10% of full retail (I researched) – but retail is over $3K. So seems pricey but the quality and fit – amazing. I noticed the trend on the cost of better designer stuff – is about 10% of retail. Good? Bad? I know every area is different – but there are so many consignment stores here the Goodwill doesn’t get much/any of the really good stuff.

    • Very interesting question — I wish I could flag this in a post (maybe I will — would you be ok with that?). I have two ways of looking at that. One, paying 5-10% of full retail value (on average) is typically what ends up happening when I thrift. It’s not a conscious decision, only the trend I have observed over the last 18 months is in that ballpark. Obviously, some things are more marked up than others to begin with (and some can cost more for legitimate reasons, like ethical manufacturing), so a 90% discount might get you closer to the “real” value of an item in some cases than in others. But, on average, I think it’s a good benchmark.

      Two, ask yourself this question: is the cost (whatever it is, and ignore the original retail price) worth it to me? A $300 coat might be a bargain in theory (if it originally cost $3,000 and will last for years, etc.) but that might not apply in practice to YOU. What is your price set point for that item? Some people cannot fathom spending $300 on any piece of clothing, no matter the quality, durability, usefulness, etc. To other people, $300 might be a reasonable amount … or cheap.

      Here’s another example: a Hermes Birkin costs anywhere from $8,000-200,000+; for the sake of argument, let’s say you find a bag that originally would have cost $20,000 for $2,000. Would you buy it? I’m not a Hermes devotee but I do love bags, so I might be tempted depending on the looks of it. For other people, it would be a hard pass, no questions asked. For others, it would be an automatic buy, no questions asked. See what I mean?

      A third way of looking at it is cost-per-wear, and coats tends to have great CPW numbers if you live in a cold climate. I’m not as big of a fan of this approach in most cases, however, because I find that I am very bad at estimating actual CPW for most things — as are most people, I would bet. Unless you have a truly minimalist closet that you rarely change, I think there is a tendency to over-estimate how often you will wear a piece of clothing, and for how long. So, YMMV on that one.

      Hope this helps!

      • Totally fine if you flag in a post!

        For work wear – because of the clients/environment/comp – my price point is higher than casual wear. Many of the women i work with would buy the $3k+ coat at full price w/o blinking an eye. Not me – I’m not a minimalist with clothes – I like quality and choice – so thrifting is attractive for high end pieces. Knowing the kind of coat I wanted – I had in my mind up to $1K for two coats. If I had seen this in a store priced at $300 – I would have been tempted to get it at full price or holdout for the first round of discounts.

        The bag example is perfect – I am a bag junkie and would certainly spend some serious time thinking about buying it. If I liked, condition was right and I could see how I would use it – I would buy it.

        CPW – I’m not committed enough to track that plus because of my weird lifestyle (live in AZ, travel to work in NY/DC) – I really have two very separate wardrobes. And wanting to look a certain part influences each.

        Thanks for the feedback – good ways to look at this. Now I am going to aim for 5% though when thrifting!

        And I did buy the coat!

        • Funnily enough … my current goal is 5% too. I’m hovering just above that for the year, if you exclude bag purchases. Those put me closer to 9%, sigh. As a fellow bag lover, I’m sure you can understand πŸ˜‰

    • AZ as in Arizona? I’m a Phoenix-area thrifter and could help guide you to the best spots! As Adina has said, the key to thrifting really is to go often. Some days, you’ll leave empty handed and feeling a bit discouraged. Other days, you’ll walk out of the store feeling so high after snagging a NWT Calvin Klein cashmere coat for $15 and a few $10 Anthro dresses (my haul last night, actually). It’s a lot like gambling. Sometimes you hit the jackpot, other times you’ve spent an hour and have nothing to show for it. Either way, the act of browsing through the “trash” of others to find my “treasure” is very therapeutic, so I don’t mind the off days.

  2. Out of curiosity, how did you get interested in the ethical dimension of clothing? Was it a natural outgrowth of thrifting or was there some other catalyst?

    I really like the sweater.

    • Just a function of reading books like Overdressed, and similar articles. Nicole (the Spirited Thrifter) is very passionate about the topic, and that has raised my awareness as well. I’ve also started following Livia Firth’s IG, and she posts a lot of information and thought-provoking articles.

      Learning more about the ethics of clothing manufacturing has definitely added to the allure of thrifting for me, but I would probably thrift regardless. Probably definitely. I have been a bargain AND designer label junkie for a long time, and once thrifting evolved into its current state (filled with amazing, nearly brand new clothes), it was a match made in heaven.

      • I’ll have to check out her Instagram feed. Thanks!

        I think I avoided reading up on the ethics for a long time out of guilt. I didn’t want to face that I probably needed to stop buying fast fashion, which probably didn’t reflect well on me. I became more interested in thrifting after I inherited some vintage skirts from my grandmother that are probably older than I am but look flawless. The quality difference is so noticeable. When I started my new job I bought a couple of vintage skirts on Etsy for that reason. You can sometimes get crazy bargains – I once got a camel hair skirt for $7 – even if they occasionally need a tailor. And then I started following you.

        I’m actually thinking of going vintage for an engagement ring for related ethical/value reasons. (I asked him a few weeks ago and we haven’t gotten around to it yet. But tomorrow we will!)

  3. My post is up – may the thrift odds be evah in your favuh. πŸ˜›

    Great discussion in the comments – please do a full post!

    It was such a fun night – can’t wait to get styling, and if it’s a tie, doesn’t that mean we need a re-match?! πŸ˜‰

  4. I’ve been following both you and the Spirited Thrifter for a while. It’s so nice to see you two develop this camaradarie. Females can sometimes get so competitive (in a negative way). So it’s very nice to see you gals in this “sisterhood”. For that, you and Nicole are definitely both winners!

    • Thanks, Karin! It’s so lovely to find someone else (who lives in my remote neck of the woods) who likes the same hobby I do — and is a smart, funny lady to boot. We have a lot of fun thrifting together — no (real) competition here.

  5. I really enjoy your thrifting posts, and seeing your finds and how awesome you look have inspired me to continue thrifting. In fact, I scored an Alexander McQueen dress the other day. As a corporate trainer, I struggle to look professional and stylish on a budget.

    I also love your use of colors and seeing how your clothes fit, so I have learned so much from you. Thank you!

    • Fab score! I’m jealous — I’ve yet to see that brand in my local stores, and I like AMcQ. Big thumbs up πŸ™‚

      And thanks for reading!