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Road Trip to Thrift: The Phoenix Experience

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:

  1. Make a list of the thrift shops in the area
  2. 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.

Savers in Phoenix

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.


Bee's Knees

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 bought this J. Peterman silk cardigan for $15

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).

So what’s next? I have my eyes set on the South, but only time will tell where I’ll actually end up. Until then, follow me on InstagramTwitterFacebookInCarriesCloset.com, and/or YouTube.


Nicole Soul


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2 Responses to Road Trip to Thrift: The Phoenix Experience

  1. Nicole Fleming April 26, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    I live in Gilbert, AZ. I just wanted to share that another great way to find cool clothes here in Arizona is go to garage sales. A lot of time you can find cheaper ($1-$3) and better clothes than at the thrift stores. What I do is go on craigslist and go to the garage sale section to kind of plan out the garage sale I want to go to. Sun City is where all the old people live and they have some great vintage clothing for cheap! By getting your clothes at garage sales, you are basically knocking off the middleman (buffalo exchange) and paying the seller directly. It’s awesome. Oh and if you go to the garage sales in fancy scottsdale they have designer clothes for cheap.

  2. Nicole May 1, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    Hey Nicole F.
    Thanks so much the heads up on garage sales. Hopefully I’ll be journeying back to the Phoenix area and will hop around at yard sales. Quick question, what’s your favorite yard sale score?
    I’m back in New York where yard sales (and thrifts for that matter) are a bit scarce. I’m hoping to hop around the Florida and Portland area.

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