Clothes: Look Great, Spend Less

By Michelle Joseph

Leaving your homeland and taking up residence in a brand new country is exhausting. I don’t only mean physically and emotionally – it also affects your bank account. During this time you might ask yourself many questions: Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to survive financially? Will I be able to provide for my family? All of these uncertainties can place an undue amount of stress on you.

Since moving from the security of your homeland to begin a new life in a different country can take a lot out of your pocket, every little bit you save is important. One of the ways that newcomers to Canada can save money is by shopping at secondhand stores (they are the same as vintage and thrift stores).

Secondhand stores sell gently-worn (which means they are not worn out, frayed or otherwise damaged) used clothing at affordable prices. The majority of the clothes are donated by the public or by various charitable organizations, which keeps the price of the items relatively low.

Some of the major secondhand stores in Canada are Goodwill, The Salvation Army and Value Village. There are many locations throughout the provinces. These three stores are not just good for your budget; they also believe in giving back to the community. For instance, Goodwill and The Salvation Army take some of the money earned from sales and reinvest it into programs to help the less fortunate. Value Village is doing its part in waste reduction by keeping unsold goods out of landfills through their recycling efforts.

Love the price

Shopping at secondhand stores has incredible benefits. First of all, who wouldn’t love spending practically nothing on clothes? Instead of going to the mall and paying high department store prices, you’re able to comfortably shop, buy more clothes, and still look stylish. What would normally cost $50 or more will cost considerably less at thrift shops (usually less than $10). Secondhand stores were originally established to provide affordable clothes to those in need, but they have become one of the most popular and trendiest places to shop. Whether you are looking for a good bargain or interested in hunting down some unusual vintage fashions, you can find it all at secondhand stores.

Shopping for the family

If you have moved to Canada with a large family, then you know that buying clothes for each member can be very costly. It is wise to take some of the burden off your wallet by making your money stretch. Secondhand stores are a wonderful place to shop for the whole family, especially for small children as they grow out of their clothes very quickly. At thrift shops, you can buy reasonably priced clothing to fit the needs of their growing bodies. Children are known to be rough on their clothes and put a lot of wear and tear

on them, so instead of investing a lot of money on expensive items, you can buy several pieces at much lower prices.

Shopaholics beware

The great prices are definitely one of the most appealing aspects of shopping secondhand, but another terrific advantage is that there are numerous articles of clothing to choose from. New and used clothing comes in on a daily basis, so you’re bound to find something that you like. If you want something specific, it is best to visit secondhand stores frequently. This will increase your chances of finding exactly what you want. If you only go once in a while, you might not be able to find exactly what you are looking for. Unlike department stores, merchandise is not restocked on a regular basis. The items found at a used clothing store depend solely on what is donated.

Professional looks

There are various styles to suit everyone’s fashion tastes, so you’ll discover items that range from the conservative to the truly outrageous. If you are interested in outfits to wear to interviews, you’ll be surprised at the amount of professional attire that you can find. Blazers, dress pants, and skirts are neatly hung on hangers waiting to be purchased. But be careful, just because the price is right doesn’t mean that you should buy it. Be sure that the article of clothing is in good condition, neat, and fits your body properly. Making a good first impression is key to getting a job, so make sure that your clothes look presentable!

When I graduated from university, I immediately started my search for full-time employment. Being freshly out of school, I didn’t have a lot of money to afford a brand new wardrobe. I had a difficult time locating bargains, so I turned my attention to thrift shops. Throughout university I purchased trendy fashions at vintage shops, so I thought that I would give it a try and look for clothing that was appropriate for work. I shopped at Value Village and the Salvation Army and I was able to find jackets and professional skirts that were perfect for interviews. Even after I gained employment, I continued to shop at secondhand stores. I became addicted to the great deals that I found and I liked being able to look stylish on a fixed budget.

Canadian winters

Living in Canada means that you have to dress for four unpredictable seasons. If you don’t have a huge bank account, purchasing garments at secondhand stores is very practical and economical. Seeing that winter is the harshest season in Canada, you’ll need a lot of clothing to warm yourselves during the long cold months. There is a huge selection of winter gear like coats, sweaters, snow pants, and boots. When temperatures dip well below zero, you’ll be prepared!

Surviving financially is just one of the problems that most newcomers must face. Shopping at secondhand stores is one of the ways that newcomers can adjust to a new life in Canada. You and your family are able to dress well, feel great, and save money!

CNM