Photos by: Lizzie Randazzo
At the start of 2015, Mary Hannah Butler made a commitment to only purchase thrifted or clearance items for an entire year. Sound impossible? Think again! We talked with her about why she said "Peace out!" to full price and how you can too.
Could you tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to take on this challenge?
Hello, my name is Mary Hannah and I’m an impulse shopper. Shopping. Is. Fun. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside….until my husband asks me what I spent so much money on at Target. BABE …All I bought was toilet paper! …and there was a shirt, but there was only one more and if I didn’t buy it they would be sold out forever and I would never be able to find anything like it again!! There were also a *few* clearance items for a whole 20% off! So…whatever, you spend money too…and…I…I get paid money… *starts to mumble and eventually trails off and exits room*
These kinds of conversations happened too often in our house, so once the New Year rolled around I figured my thrifty shopping resolution would be a better goal than "Train for the Olympics" or "Become master of latte art".
What is your method when you go shopping?
I go to thrift stores once a week. I’ve made it an errand like grocery shopping or cleaning…out the ice cream carton. A key to successful thrifting is going often. I rotate stores every week to give the stores time to move some inventory.
If I’m short on time I stick to the outer perimeter of the store. Most thrift stores have the dresses, shoes, jackets/blazers, kids clothing, housewares and purses toward the outskirts of the store. These things are usually way more expensive in retail stores so I head there first. There are some great shirts and pants to be found in thrift stores but they take a while to sift through because there are SO many racks, and the price isn’t necessarily less than what you would find in a good retail store sale.
If I’m shopping at a retail store I go straight to the clearance section. If I stop to “just take a look” at the full price items I will leave with three new bathing suit tops, a graphic tee and sunglasses totaling $50 using my brain math, but magically adding up to a stupid amount of dollars at the register.
What is you favorite item you've purchased while doing the challenge?
A vintage faux fur coat. It’s beautiful. I know, I know…Florida and a coat covered in fur don’t really mix. But it’s cropped, ¾ length sleeve and keeps me warm in the frigid 60 degree weather. I also found a vintage tan leather Coach purse. There was definitely a heavenly ray of light shining down and angels singing when I locked eyes with it.
What's one thing you've realized since taking this on?
You can spend a lot of money thrifting! At first I was filling my Goodwill cart to the brim because thrifting is SO cheap and this must be what millionaires feel like at the mall. (Side note: Malls should have shopping carts). The first few times I went thrifting this year I was spending right around $100. I justified this in the beginning because I was getting SO much and I was selling some of it but I starting giving myself a $50 limit per week, which is plenty.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do it too?
1. ANYONE CAN DO THIS! It’s all about not tempting yourself. Like I said earlier, I have serious blinders on when I’m shopping and go straight to the clearance section. It’s like skipping the freezer section at the grocery store. You don’t think about ice cream until you stop and stare at those frosty glass doors. Then, before you know it you’re leaving with 2 pints of Jimmy Fallon’s flavor of Ben and Jerry’s to “share” with your husband.
2. GO THRIFTING OFTEN. You might not find something every time you go, but I guarantee if you keep at it you will find items you love and you will start to love the treasure hunting process too.
Dress: Vivienne Tan-Salvaged from a friend's donation bag…so FREE
Vest: Barney’s NY-Baught from an Instagram Shop for $13
Necklace: Vintage Thrifted-$6
Shoes: Old Navy- $17 (50% off!)
Outfit total: $36
Shirt: No tag but also salvaged from a friends closet so-FREE!
Boyfriend Jeans: The Loft. 40% sale plus 40% off entire purchase. $23
Belt: vintage thrifted-$4
Shoes: Marshall’s purchase last year but still on sale-$20
Outfit total: $47