THE BLOG

I Am Addicted to Goodwill

06/28/2015 03:17 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2016

When I moved to the United States, I discovered a gold mine. Several in fact. I was in awe of my revelations -- I could not believe my eyes!

The concept of thrift stores does not really exist in Paris. There are a few places where you can buy vintage clothing, and of course the infamous weekend flea markets are good sources of deals, but somehow it is different to what I discovered first in Miami. And now I can barely go a month without shopping for bargains somewhere. One day I shall open a real thrift store in Paris.

I love clothes (and shoes, bags, all that jazz), and even though I always had a job all my life, meaning I could always afford to dress myself and my family decently, I still love a good bargain - and the pursuit of one is in fact one of my pastimes. I cannot afford Chanel bags and Dior couture dresses, but I can cloth myself in any season fashion quite well, for reasonable amounts.

I adore the chase of a good cheap piece. I am always looking for the real deals, the bargain items, and the recycled ones -- I always say that the day I win the Lotto, I'll still shop at Goodwill!

A Treasure Hunt.

Part of me, the environmentalist side, wants to re-use discarded items, as a good thing for the planet, and a part of me thrives in the challenge of not knowing what I will find that day! Like a game of treasure hunt or a box of chocolate for Forrest Gump: I never know what I'll find inside a thrift store. This also stands as a rebellion act for me against the consumerism society that I find totally abusive.

Why not buy used clothes? After all, we do purchase used cars, right? So it's the same, the minute you walk out of a clothing store, or the moment you drive out of the dealership lot, what you just bought brand new is already used! And with it comes depreciation and maybe even remorse.

My Own Rules.

I have a few rules when it comes to buying pre-owned clothes:

--I buy nothing black unless it's almost new, as faded black clothing is the worst thing ever.
--I never buy anything ripped or missing a button, as I very well know that I will never fix it.
--I do not buy anything a size too small, thinking that I would lose weight -- not happening. I am a size 8-10, which is the national average size for women, so there are plenty of things to be found in thrift stores for me.
--I never try anything on because after all, it is probably not clean, and I would rather lose a few dollars than try on something unsanitary. Mind you that if you go to any new clothing store, you never know how many women have tried the piece you are putting on before you!
--I never buy underwear, bathing suits or shoes in used conditions -- that just grosses me out.
--If I see a designer piece that is not my size, I still buy it because I know for sure I will sell it on eBay for much more than I paid for it.
--I never buy anything that I cannot wash in a machine, such as silk or cashmere. I know for a fact I will not wash it by hand. That is out of my realm of actions.

My Best Buys.

In Paris, at the modest Emmaus shop near La Bastille, I bought an UPLA messenger bag quite new for three Euros, which I instantly sold on eBay for $210 - they did not know what they had!

In a charity shop in Notting Hill (London), I bought a Stella McCartney dress for 35 pounds, usually sold for over $750. I still have it, it's classic and will never go out of style.

In Paris, I dug out of a large pile of... stuff a Courrèges Couture trench coat for 100 Euros, and sold it for 1,000 a few days later. That one helped pay my ticket. I had it cleaned for $15, so I made a good profit on it.

My Very Own World Address Book for Used Clothes.

Emmaus: this one in Paris is the only real thrift store in the city. You can find plenty of "vintage" stores around Montmartre, too many to list them here. (Buy). Paris has loads of vintage stores and second hand boutiques, especially around Montmartre, too many to list here. There is also a concept store called Kilo-Shop where you can buy clothes by the weigh .

Garage Sales, or Vide-Greniers like they are called in France. That is where everything goes! Some towns in France dedicate one weekend each year to hold those on a city-wide concept and this is a fun thing to do in the far away suburbs around Paris.

Plato's Closet: I only know the ones in Texas and in Florida, sometimes they have sales that bring down their items to $2 or $3 each piece. Otherwise still very affordable. For the younger crowd. (Buy/Sell system.)

Clothes Mentor: Bring your own clothes and they'll give you cash, which you can then use to buy new (to you) clothes right away. Their clothes are usually in better condition than other stores. (Buy/Sell.)

Buffalo Exchange: I love the store on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Fabulous bags and men's clothing. (Buy/Sell/Exchange.)

Goodwill Superstore (74th street and 74th avenue in Miami): this one is my favorite Goodwill of them all - it even has a designer section where you can find beautiful wedding dresses for $50. Just have it cleaned for $50 and it's still a bargain! (Buy.)

The Goodwills in North Florida, Pensacola and other locations have 99 cents Sunday sales, where a dedicated color will cost you only a buck - now this is almost like giving it away!

Charity Shoppes: that's what the thrift stores are called in London. Rather small and always geared towards giving the money to worthy causes. (Buy.)

Saint-Vincent de Paul: the used clothing stores of Australia. (Buy.)

Salvation Army: usually poorer choices than any other place, but still a few good items can be had. (Buy.)

Ebay and Etsy: I don't usually buy on auctions sites, because I still want to see the piece and feel it, even if I am not trying it on. That's definitely a personal choice. I do sell on eBay, but my things are always clean and in good shape, I would feel ashamed to do otherwise. But that's just me!

Any questions? Or comments! Contact me: sidoniesawyer@gmail.com.
See more of my stories here.