White truck with signs on the back that say "Alternative Thrift Shop" and "Sale."
Community,  Here + Now

Top 7 Toronto Thrifting Tips & Tricks

Thrifting is trendy, affordable, and most importantly, sustainable. Shopping second-hand curbs fast fashion, keeping lightly loved clothes out of landfills, and giving them a second life! I’ve been thrifting for almost a decade and still bump into people who stick their nose up to the idea. But I’m convinced thrift shopping is like going on the ultimate treasure hunt.

I remember when it started… On our day off as summer camp counsellors, six of us crammed into a minivan and drove to my first thrift store: Talize. I was in shock. We found shoes to share, matching sports jerseys, décor for the cabin. I felt like my third eye was opened, and I walked into an eccentric and extraordinary universe. I’ve learned a lot since then on how to do it enjoyably and cost-efficiently. Be sure to check these 7 tips out before embarking on your next trip to Kensington Market or Orfus Road.


A person holding a white tote bag.
Credits: Mediamodifier. Unsplash.com

Bring your own (reusable) bag. A tote will do just fine! Most places make you pay for plastic or paper. EW, gross! Bringing a reusable is yet another contributing factor to keeping second-hand shopping sustainable and affordable.

Prep a bag to donate

A person folding clothes, there are three piles of clothes.
 Credits: Sarah Brown. Unsplash.com

Many stores, like Value Village, give out coupons for 30% off your purchase when you donate two bags. It’s a great idea to make sure you have space to bring more clothes into your home, so that your haul-after-haul weekends don’t end up cluttering. Decluttering is just as crucial as the haul, and may not be easy, but so necessary. By contributing to the thrift pool, you’re helping others find a diamond in the rough.

Bring a shopping list

Person writing a list on a notebook.
 Credits: Glenn Carstens-Peters. Unsplash.com

In the market for a vintage corset? Need a new clutch? While decluttering, it helps to take stock of what you’re missing before going crazy and buying your seventh green t-shirt from Punta Cana that you’re never going to wear. If stressed when buying, think of three outfits you can wear with that denim fedora. If it’s going to get balled up at the back of your drawer it’s not worth it. Taking inventory at home will help you stay on track instead of getting lost in a clothing avalanche on aisle 4.

Shop to Crop

Person holding black thread spool, silver scissors, and three pins.
Credits: Kelly Sikkema. Unsplash.com

Has something shiny grabbed your eye? Spy a zebra print pair of jeans you think would be cuter as short shorts? Grab now, decide later! That’s what the fitting room is for. Think of cropping and chopping pants and tops that might not be your exact fit if you’re handy with a needle and thread minimum. Some thrift shops charge by weight, so grab that crazy patterned scarf and watch a YouTube tutorial on how to snip it into a tube top later. 

Don’t forget to wear socks

Person wearing white socks with black dots and sandals.
Credits: No Revisions. Unsplash.com

There’s a preconceived ick about walking in someone else’s shoes. I always make sure to wear socks. Comfort is essential when thrifting, mainly because patience can wear thin when making a day of thrifting. Being prepared to spend the day trying on someone else’s clothing means potentially being a bit uncomfy, so why not avoid a meltdown? Wearing tights to try jeans on with ease saves you a trip to the fitting room if there is a long lineup.

Shop in ALL sections of the store

Person holding assorted clothes in wooden hangers.
Credits: Becca McHaffie. Unsplash.com

It’s hard for shops to determine if the puffy shirt goes upstairs or downstairs. Some shops curate their clothes by colour, not necessarily by guy/gal determining factors. Some of my favourite finds were hidden among the fur coats! Grab two polo tees from the men’s department, or those purple track pants in the kid’s section. Don’t be deterred by the wandering, judgemental gaze, so not worth it.

Keep in mind: Vintage and thrift are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS…

White truck with signs on the back that say "Alternative Thrift Shop" and "Sale."
Credits: Chrissie Kremer. Unsplash.com

While it’s nice to go down to Queen St. West and window shop on weekends, don’t shy away from your local Salvation Army. Call up your BFF and head down to Lansdown station. And depending on what your budget is, you might want to rethink that ‘94 Nirvana tee…

Take it from Macklemore, $50 for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant SH*T!

Looking for the perfect place to thrift shop in the GTA? I recommend:

1. Value Village – Junction

2. Final Touch – Bloor & Lansdown

3. Vintage Depot – Kensington Market

4. F as in Frank – Queen Street

5. Value Village – Dufferin & Steeles

6. Value Village – Bloor & Lansdown

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