The five golden rules to thrift store shopping

There are two kinds of people: Those who shudder at the thought of buying used goods and those who feel that it is the morally superior choice. I've fallen firmly into the latter camp, ever since realizing that I could bag a $150 cashmere sweater for $5 (and with tags still intact) at a thrift store, if I looked hard enough and the thrift store gods were smiling.

I've been trolling the thrift stores for more than 20 years now. In the spirit of the new year, I'm offering up the wisdom of my experience to all you thrift store newbies out there. Sit at my knee, now. And listen up. Here are my five golden rules to thrift store shopping:

1.) Location, location, location: In general, thrift stores located on the better side of town generally have better stuff. However, this isn't always the case. One of my favorite local thrifts, a funky little storefront run by a church, gets a lot of their stuff from the vastly more upscale Orange County area and imports it up. It always pays to ask where the thrift gets their merchandise. Chain thrifts such as Goodwill Services, often get their stuff from a central clearing house, although the local donations will still show up on the shelves. And the richer the neighborhood, the more likely the locals do a lot of retail therapy, which then often hang in their closets for a year, unworn, until they eventually make it out to the local thrift store when spring cleaning time comes.