Tulsa thrift stores help you look good, save money and resist the temptation of fast fashion
It’s now officially fall — which, admittedly, doesn’t mean much in Oklahoma until mid-November at least. But the continued heat doesn’t stop grocery stores from selling all things pumpkin-flavored, and it doesn’t stop many students from dreaming of their favorite fall outfits, even if it’s still too warm to wear them.
About this time of year, it’s often tempting to go on a pre-midterms stress-induced online shopping binge. We can’t wait to start wearing sweaters, jackets and whatever style of jeans is popular this year. Websites like Shein and Amazon make it all too easy to browse through hundreds of new styles, and compared to boutique prices, they’re incredibly inexpensive. That $8 shirt just looks so good on that model,even if you know it will fall apart in three weeks.
If you’re looking for new pieces to add to your wardrobe, but you also don’t want to contribute to the waste factory that is fast fashion, turning to expensive retailers isn’t your only option. Tulsa thrift stores offer a wide variety of clothing, and thrift store prices are often much lower than even the cheapest fast fashion retailers. And an added bonus: the money you spend usually goes towards the local economy.
Furthermore, the pieces you find at thrift stores are often far more unique, versatile and well-made than what you find online. Clothes sewn 30 years ago were sewn to last — and trust me, they do. Many outfit essentials, like jeans, jackets and button-down shirts can be found at thrift stores for well under $10, and these items easily mix and match with other pieces to create totally unique outfits. Sure, they won’t look exactly like that style that’s popular this season (and will be forgotten by May), but there’s something fun and freeing about wearing a piece that’s a little quirky. Trust me, you do pull it off, and you’ll probably get plenty of compliments from people who wish they had your bold style.
At this point, you may be sold on the idea of thrift stores, but you’re still waiting for me to address one glaring problem: the effort it takes to find that perfect item.
While it can be annoying to dig through racks upon racks of clothing, only to find one thing that maybe works, I argue that the laborious process of thrift shopping actually contributes to its appeal. The thrifted items you buy seem to carry more significance because you had to work for them in a very tangible way. It’s easy to throw away that $6 sweater from Shein because it was easy to buy. But that $6 pair of shorts from Salvation Army…well, you might just hang on to that one for a bit longer. It’s easy to forget the meaning behind things we don’t have to work for. The difficulty and time commitment of securing a great thrifted piece reminds us that we don’t have to be mindless consumers ensnared by a give-me give-me culture. We can be thoughtful about the things we buy and do so in a responsible way.
That said, some thrift stores are better than others. While all thrift stores are going to require some digging, a few Tulsa stores stand out as consistently reliable and rewarding for your search. Here, I list the three that, in my opinion, consistently offer great items at very reasonable prices.
3. Quality Thrift, 51st and Peoria
This thrift store is popular among TU students for its 99 cent Mondays, where clothing items with certain colored tags can be purchased for 99 cents. However, outside of the 99 cent Mondays, Quality Thrift’s prices tend to run a little higher than average. This thrift store is particularly good for t-shirts, dresses, bedding, table cloths and (oddly enough) unused Target liquidation. Keep in mind that Target liquidation items are going to be up-charged significantly from their liquidation prices, so you may do better simply purchasing straight from a Target clearance rack — an experience not dissimilar from a thrift store in the amount of digging required.
2. Family and Children’s Services Thrift Store, 6th and Utica
Only a mile or so from campus is this charming store. It’s smaller than the other two listed in this article, but it’s still far more often a hit than a miss. This store has a great selection of button down shirts and house decor items, but you’ll find valuable goods in all sections. On top of that, this store supports a charity. Not only can you help out by purchasing items, but you can also donate your old, unwanted clothing, saving those 3-sizes-too-small shorts from a landfill and someone in need from unemployment.
1. Prime Thrift Store, 31st and Mingo
This massive thrift store is a bit of a drive from campus, but it has everything. I’ve purchased dozens of shirts, shorts, pants and jackets from this place. Heck, I even bought two perfectly-fitting floor-length purple sequin evening gowns (nevermind why I needed two, let alone one). It’s unlikely you’ll walk in and not find something worth spending a few bucks on. In addition, the housewares selection contains surprisingly good finds. Nowhere else will you find such funky drinking mugs and dish sets for such a low cost. You might just have to devote a few minutes to scrubbing off the crayon-ed on “.99” when you get back home.
If you’re looking to wear something new this fall, try one of these stores before scrolling through a fast fashion site. You’ll likely save money, reduce waste and find an item you’ll cherish for years. Oh, and while I’m here — if you’re looking to borrow a floor-length purple sequin dress any time soon, feel free to shoot me an email.