Thrift shopping is one of the best ways to find outfits nowadays. With racks on racks of gently used clothes, shoes, purses and hats waiting to be given a new home, thrifting can be a wonderful alternative to big brand shopping. Not only is it cheaper, but there’s a sense of adventure to it. Perusing the aisles in search of the perfect item one never knew they needed is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning with friends, or it can be an exhilarating way to spend some quality time loving and treating oneself.
There are dozens of thrift shops to choose from in Harrisonburg, but one that stands out the most is Plato's Closet. Located in the Spotswood Square Shopping Center, Harrisonburg’s Plato’s Closet, one in a chain of national second-hand stores, is a fun and convenient place to find quality clothes for affordable prices.
Plato’s Closet is different because it specializes in always stocking its shelves with quality pieces in all sizes. I’ve found Kate Spade purses, LOFT pencil skirts and Brandi Melville crop-tops hidden among the pieces from H&M, Forever 21 and Kohl’s for affordable, everyday prices. Plato’s makes sure to keep up with the current trends, offering pieces that look like they came out of a recent catalogue.
“That’s what I really like about Plato’s,” Casey Flanagan, a junior health sciences major, said. “I know that the things I find are going to be high-quality because they make sure to stay on top of trends and always stock high-end brands.”
But Plato’s doesn’t only carry designer dresses and tops — there’s a little something for everyone. Toward the back, there’s a section for men complete with pants, blazers and even some colorful ties, making Plato’s the perfect place for students in need of professional dress clothes to get some good deals. There’s also a section for the sporty, more-athletic types to browse joggers, yoga pants, sports bras and tank-tops.
With so many quality offerings all in the same place, it’s easy for a few $5 shirts to turn into a $60 purchase relatively quickly. Luckily, there are some tricks for keeping one’s Plato’s Closet purchase within budget. Sophomore nursing major Electra Ellis said she always suggests going to Plato’s with a shopping list.
“You want to make sure you know what you’re looking for,” Ellis said. “It’s easy to start browsing and just throwing all sorts of things into your basket. It’s best to stay on task.”
Knowing if one needs shorts, a dress for a formal or simply some new running clothes is essential to keeping both one’s college funds and sanity intact during a trip to Plato’s.
Another trick for keeping costs down is shopping in the clearance section.
“I always go in and head straight for the back,” Eliza Bonilla, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, said. “That’s where they have all of the more off-season sale stuff. I got a dress for $1 from there once.”
Clearance at Plato’s isn’t akin to the leftover clothes no one wants. Rather it’s made up of overstocked and some off-season clothes the store needs to sell before it transitions into the next season’s collection. Shopping clearance isn’t cringe-worthy or sad. Instead, it’s a smart way to stock up on clothes for winter or spring a few months in advance.
The last — and probably best — way to keep costs down at Plato’s is by bringing in one’s own old clothes to sell to the store. Being a thrift shop, Plato’s depends on local donations to keep its shelves stocked and full of cute second-hand pieces. To keep quality up, however, Plato’s can be selective about what it chooses to accept.
Avoid bringing in anything with stains, rips or loose threads, and if the clothing is from a popular brand like American Eagle or Pacsun, the store is more likely to consider buying it. One should raid their closet and find that dress they never got around to wearing and those jeans that are a bit too tight or loose now and bring the pieces down to Plato’s to see if they can get anything for them. One might just end up breaking even on their purchase.
If one doesn’t have time to take out of their schedule to browse for new outfits, the Harrisonburg Plato’s Closet is often active on social media, advertising new clothes on its Instagram and Facebook page. All of the outfits featured in the social media photos can be found in the “As seen on Instagram” section at the side of the store next to the cash registers for anyone interested in the looks.
If one loves Plato’s and shops there often, they could consider joining its rewards program, which gives out points for each buy that can translate into reductions and rewards on later purchases.
Overall, Plato’s Closet is a fun and exciting place to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends, family or on a self-care date with oneself. Not only can one be sure to save some money, find some vintage looks that help to reduce clothing waste and maybe get a few dollars back for their gently used clothes, but they might also find their new favorite outfit.
Contact Alexandra Dauchess at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.