Ukay-ukay stores (thrift stores) are no longer just the shopping place for the cash strapped. These shops are places where you can discover those beautiful pieces that can help you create fashionable looks that can't be found in any mall!
Unearth those hidden treasures among those piles of vintage clothing and experience the joys of ukay-ukay shopping by following these tips:
Know what you are looking for.
Ukay-ukay stores come in rows and can be overwhelming! Have in mind the outfit or look you want to go for before you go shopping. That way, getting that tie-dyed shirt, flare pants and hippie bag for your seventies retro look will be a whole lot easier.
Have an eye for details.
Sometimes, I do look for brands, since they come a lot cheaper than the ones sold in malls. However, details are what make clothes interesting. Look for interesting details, one-of-a-kind prints, delicate embroidery or unusual buttons.
Try it on.
Always try on the outfits before purchasing. I have a cousin who has a mountain-load of thrift shop clothes (her closet is about to collapse!) she has never worn! Don't rely on the size written on the clothing tag. The clothing may have stretched or shrunk. Also, that vintage clothing with the L size may be the S size today.
You need a load of patience to go through every item if you want to snag a real find.
Goods are sold "as is".
Most thrift stores don't accept returns so be sure your purchases are in good condition before you leave the store. Watch out for stains in the armpits, chest and other areas that are easily visible. Check zippers, seams and button holes for damage.
Learn the art of haggling.
Ukay-ukay stores give you price cuts, especially if it is their "buena mano" (first sale), you are buying a lot of items, you are buying when business is slow (I actually snagged a leather jacket worth 1,500.00 for 100 pesos only on a particularly stormy day), and you are makulit.
Leave the kids at home.
For ordinary shopping mortals like us, it is best to be focused on getting the best finds and not on your child's tantrum or her allergic reaction to dust.
Finally, remember that ukay-ukay is also called wagwagan-as in wagwag off the dust. So don't forget your hand sanitizer gel or baby wipes for clean up afterwards.
I will be writing later about thrift shopping in Baguio, so watch for it :)