Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona!
Let me start by saying that thrifting in Phoenix turned out to be less about shopping for myself and more about proving that thrifting was a worthy endeavor for my thrift-averse friend. Yes, you read that correctly. I have a thrift-avers friend. I’m sure you’re familiar with the type—the mall rat, princess, girly girl who would NEVER step foot inside of a thrift store.
One day, during a late brunch, this friend was trying to convince me that the city was so “overrun” with thrift stores that finding anything worth wearing would be short of lucky. Of course, I took that attitude as a challenge. I wanted to change her perspective of thrifted fashion by styling her in something that she simply could not deny. My task was to find her chic thrifted items that she could wear to an upcoming job interview. The stipulations were:
- No black clothing
- No tight-fitting clothing
- No busy patterns
- Made of light-weight material
Unlike my previous trips, I hit the Phoenix thrift stores armed with a best practice plan and with a mission focused on professional wear rather than vintage fashion. My two-step best practice plan was simply:
- Make a list of the thrift shops in the area
- Call each store and ask about their weekly promotions and tag sales
Calling each store allowed me to strategically set my daily course and optimize my chances of ‘scoring’ a better deal.
My ﬁrst stop was the Savers in Scottsdale. Savers is a major competitor to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. It’s spacious, clean, and relatively inexpensive. Being a fashionista, I wanted to challenge my friend’s sense of style and picked up a 1970s Rockmount skirt with a tribal print for a $1.99. But she rejected it. “Cute, but no patterns on interviews,” she insisted. However, the stop wasn’t a totally bust. This Savers store had an unbelievable shoe section. I was able to “score” a pair of ﬂats for $1.99 and a pair of leather sandals for $3.99.
I was still on a mission for my friend. So I hit the road again. This time I opted to stop at The Bee’s Knees (2222 N 16th St) before hitting the major thrift retailers. I was pleasantly surprised by the service I received there. The store owner, Julie, took me on a personalized tour of the indoor outdoor Beehive building. This store focused on community building. To meet this mission, the Bee’s Knees wasn’t just a thrift store, it was also an art studio (with a sewing room), coffee shop, and garden that featured art pieces from emerging artist. Honestly, I was on a mission in heaven!
I commandeered Julie’s help in finding an item that was suitable for an interview. She introduced me to a J. Peterman silk cardigan for $15 dollars. By thrift store standards, $15 on a cardigan can be considered a “splurge,” but I decided it was worth it for the quality of the garment and the personalized customer service.
After making my purchase, I circled back to the Salvation Army. It was 50 percent off day, so I was able to find a pair of Wild Pair pumps for $2.99 and a pair of black pants for $1.99. I know. I broke the “no black” rule. But she asked for chic, and I was determined to give it to her. In the end, she loved the garments so much that she hasn’t stop thanking me. The best part was that the entire outfit costs under $20! That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a ‘thriftover’ success!
That’s it—the end of the beginning. Five weeks of exploring the thrift shops of the west, and I couldn’t be more thankful for this experience. Each city had a unique thrift culture, but my favorite turned out to be Oakland. (I’ll never forget how that Valentino dress met me at hello).