Thrift shops or ukay-ukay
stores are a goldmine for really good bargains. You can find high-quality, sometimes limited edition items at insanely cheap prices. It is no surprise to find out that many budget-conscious shoppers regularly flock to known ukay-ukay places like Session Road in Baguio, Olivarez Plaza in Tagaytay, and Anonas in Quezon City.
Are you planning to go on an ukay-ukay shopping real soon, especially now that the weather has changed and so also your wardrobe should? In order to have an enjoyable and satisfying ukay-ukay shopping experience, make sure you are armed with the following tips and tricks.
1. Patience is a virtue. It has been said over and over again that ukay shopping is not for the fainthearted. Unlike malls and boutiques, thrift shops do not arrange their items according to color or style. They are mostly arranged according to the type of clothing (shirts, pants, bags, etc.), so you really have to dig into those hills of clothing to find that “treasure.” There may even be times that you would come out of the store with nothing in your hands. If you’re in a hurry, it’s best to reschedule your shopping trip to when you can dedicate more time for it.
2. Comfort comes first. The first thing to remember is that these thrift shops are often small and crowded with no air conditioning. Second, you will be combing through piles and piles of clothing, so make sure you are properly geared up for the task. Avoid wearing clothing made from tight, heavy fabrics, like denim and leather; instead, opt for clothes with light, breathable fabrics like cotton. Sleeveless tops and leggings, paired with a comfy pair of flats are highly recommended because they allow you to move freely.
3. Always check for damages. It is unavoidable to find items that have stains and damages. They are in a thrift shop for some reason. But, the difference lies on the extent of the damage. Is it easily repairable? Can the stain be removed with one wash? If the answer is yes, it’s okay to buy it. But if you can’t do the repair and cleaning yourself, it’s best to put the item back on the rack. It’s not going to be worth it, unless you don’t mind shelling out money on repairs.
4. Be on the lookout for fake items. Back when ukay-ukay was not yet so popular, shoppers would still find authentic designer items here and there. But now that replicas and counterfeit goods abound1, some ukay merchants would sell them and trick their customers into thinking that the items are the real deal. It’s the digital age—use your smartphone and research for signs and tips on identifying fake goods while shopping.
5. Haggle like there’s no tomorrow. This is what makes the ukay shopping experience unlike any other. That feeling of getting a good discount on an already cheap item is exhilarating—you feel like you already are an ukay-ukay pro. But the question is: how do you do it? Be nice. If you are an irate customer, no one would ever want to deal with you. Befriend the salesladies, smile, and be polite. Stores usually grant discounts if you buy in bulk. But if you find minor damages, you can point that out to the cashier and nicely ask for a discount. Don’t forget to say thank you.
6. Bring an eco bag. If you are a bulk shopper, having your own bag ready can be really helpful. Most ukay shops use small plastic bags which can only fit two or three items. Besides, plastic bags are prone to tear so they’re not very practical. Aside from that, they’re bad for the environment. You may have saved lots of money from shopping but you have also contributed to our country’s garbage dilemma. If you have a bayong, that can do as well. Save the environment, save the earth!
Ukay-ukay shops may be treasure troves for cheap and unique fashion finds but these items are not just handed to you in a platter. It takes patience, skills, and knowledge in order to have a positive shopping experience. Nevertheless, once you finally master dealing with merchants and identifying a good buy, everything will be a breeze.