Orlando has its fair share of malls, and they're beautiful – concrete meccas of fluorescent lighting, perfume samples and Auntie Anne's Pretzels abound. But if you're tired of watching your bank account shrivel up after one pair of mall jeans, fear not! This city is also chock-full of thrift and secondhand shops primed to help you save extra cash, reducing your carbon footprint and ensuring that your Thursday nights downtown never spiral into a Kate Sanders vs. Miranda Sanchez same-outfit-on-picture-day fiasco. Transitioning your wardrobe from new to new-to-you can be intimidating, however, and understandably so; have you seen the size of that Goodwill on Orange Blossom Trail? Here are some quick tricks to help you get started. Soon, you'll never need to brave the crowds at the outlets again.
Know what you want, but be open-minded.
If you're trying to stick to a budget, it's always a good idea to draw up a list of what you're looking for – that pile of impulse-buy $2 joke T-shirts in your basket can add up fast. At the same time, though, remember that you probably won't find the exact items you've been picturing. Keep an eye out for pieces that are similar or convey the same style, and try on as much as possible – you never know what you'll end up loving.
To make your dollars stretch the furthest, pay attention to store-specific sale calendars. Most thrift stores (Community Thrift Store and Goodwill, among others) price with color-coded tags, and will offer discounts on different colors based on the day of the week. Resale shops like Dechoes (2110 Edgewater Drive and 2525 E. Colonial Drive, dechoesresale.com) and Avalon Exchange (745 Orange Ave., Winter Park, instagram.com/avalonexchangeflorida), on the other hand, always have sale sections, but you should definitely keep an eye out for their big annual sale events. At the Dechoes Bag Sale, you can stuff a shopping bag for $15, and at Avalon's Dollar Sale, racks and racks of items are just a buck apiece.
Above all else: Put in the time.
Thrifting is mostly chance – it's all about being in the right place at the right time. You'll maximize that chance, though, by becoming a regular at the shops closest to you. If you can, find out when new stock is dropped off and plan your visits accordingly. Make sure to block out enough room in your day to dig through every section. Of course, if you'd like to expedite the process, you can always follow Dechoes or Avalon Exchange on Instagram – new items are posted as they come in, and if you see something you love, you can call with card in hand and nab it immediately. Either way, it doesn't really matter how you stumble across the worn-in leather jacket of your dreams or those perfectly snug plaid pants – nothing beats the feeling of a one-in-a-million find.