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Hacks to thrift (mitumba) shopping

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You can’t help the bellow that escapes your larynx or how your body springs up from your seat as if your rear end is being barbecued. You bring your arms to the party; flailing them around with a fiery buzz, hoping they would notice. You resort to army gesticulations once you take note of the crowd mimicking your every move. You are silently hoping they would catch a whiff of your desperate attempts to help them; your favorite boxer.

The rivulets of sweat trickling down their backs and the heaving of their breaths send an exhilarating sensation among the crowd. The gusto amidst the audience can be felt by the opponents in the ring. The luster of this can be attributed to the science of the game.

You see a boxing match employs specific strategies; feet spurring, psychological sizing and actively seeking of opportunities. The game demands that the boxers give their all; mind, body and soul. They know when to deliver an uppercut and when to cross their arms over their faces.

They know how to calculate an incoming attack. They know how to dial down an impact of a surprise attack to staggering instead of catapulting to the floor of the ring. They know how to scour for weaknesses in their opponents and they know how best to exploit these weaknesses. They know how to sustain the rounds and how to collect points. They know how to win. Problem is, there can always be one winner. The same principles apply to thrift shopping.

Thrift shopping is a norm to most people as they seek to gain fashionable clothes and shoes at cheap prices. This is not easy since most of these clothes happen to be worn, faded, sparkling with detaching embellishments, have holes or stitches, are not fitting or are simply out of season. Like boxing, thrift shopping is a science that requires certain strategies and the active engaging of your mind, body and soul. If you want to win against your opponent (which is the seller/other thrift shoppers), you need to apply these following hacks.

Know when to strike

Thrift shopping is all about timing. You need to know when you can get the best outfits at affordable prices. Although people argue that shopping at night will fetch you extremely low prices because the sellers are desperate to get rid off their stock, it is slightly difficult to spot a good outfit. This is because most of the good stock has already been sold during the day. You might get lucky and score a snazzy outfit but luck doesn’t always knock on our doors. Sometimes it goes on a vacation to Malindi for cocktails and tan.

Now if you want to score nice clothes and shoes, you have to arrive early, preferably when the bale of clothes and shoes are being opened. This way you get to analyze them without a lot of fellow scouts around and you get to buy them for an unusually low price. This is because the sellers are eager to start off their sales. They call it the morning discount.

Going thrift shopping mid-morning or late in the afternoon will fetch you less appealing clothes and shoes at relatively higher prices compared to if you had gone early in the morning.

So if want to have a successful thrift shopping experience, you need to invest in an alarm, a cup of coffee and maybe even throw in light drapes so that you actually know when morning starts.

Know where to shop

Before a tactical team dispatches for a mission, they have to assess the targeted area so as to come up with the best means of infiltration. For a thrift shopper, you have to know areas where you can acquire quality and varied choices within your price range.

This means that you do not just wake up at the crack of dawn and begin loitering around varied markets hoping to score a good outfit. You need a strategy. The loitering should come before the actual thrift shopping. This way you don’t waste a whole lot of time discovering sellers that have appealing apparels and who are also willing to sell them at reasonable prices.

One recommendation on where to thrift shop is the all too famous Gikomba market in Nairobi, you always wind up with something nifty.
Not knowing where to go will have you tired and disappointed within the end of your shopping sojourn.

Go prepared

My friend once got robbed while thrift shopping in a busy market. She didn’t even notice she had lost her ATM card until she reached home. Shortly after her panic attack she proceeded to retrace her steps back to the market. Nothing else had been stolen from her purse. Someone who had also appeared to be busy scouring for good clothes had slipped their clever fingers into her purse and vanished within the chaos of the market. Nowadays she goes thrift shopping with no purse and money tucked safely in her brassiere.

It is always savvy to be prepared for such instances while shopping. Be wary of your fellow thrift shoppers and at times the sellers. Try to minimize the possessions you are bringing to the market. Avoid putting anything in your back pocket or shoving your purse around your back while crouching to study the strewn clothes. If you are carrying a rucksack, it is better to unhook it from your back so that it is in your line of sight as you assess the products.

Going prepared also entails having a budget. Make sure you have a price range for your shopping so as to avoid overspending. A budget will not have an impact if you lack the discipline to stick by it.

Also if you happen to be selective, like me, then you have to be ready to tire. Since you already know you will be spending a lot of time walking and bending in the sun, then you need to be well fed, hydrated and zealous. If possible carry a bottle of water. It’s a jungle out there.

In terms of dressing, wear something light and easy to maneuver in. Light clothes are also convenient when you need to try on clothes. Try not to go thrift shopping in a flashy outfit, you can’t effectively bargain when you are looking, for lack of a better term, like a million bucks.

Bring company

Like fairy tales, thrift shoppers have to kiss a lot of frogs so as to find their prince or rather they have to try on a plethora of clothes before they get what they want.

This adventure calls for a sidekick. Having a companion during shopping will help make the whole experience fun. The chosen company will also help you haggle the price for your selections.

The rule of this strategy is that you bring along someone who is brutally honest. Having a yes man as a part of your entourage will not behoove you at all. Find someone who will give you a thumbs down when you make a terrible choice.

Try them on

We are always quick to say, “my tailor will fix it”. Sure this statement is very valid, tailors can work fitting magic to your selected piece but this is not always the case.

That is why it is important to try on pieces before you purchase them. Being shy to the idea of trying on clothes in public will only lead to you buying clothes that are a size too small or irreversibly large. If you truly cannot try clothes in public then spot areas that have changing segments. All in all wear clothes that make it easy for you to try on potential selections.

Well there you have it! Five hacks that will make thrift shopping an effective experience.

So, how many rounds do you reckon you can last in a boxing match? Just one huh?


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