Thrift Like a Pro

Thrift Like a Pro

Posted by Hanna Kohn on

For this installment of Green Living, we caught up with Sami Head from Sandhill Goods, a web-based store that offers curated secondhand modern and vintage items, to ask her about the do’s and don’ts of thrifting. 

You can find a selection of Sandhill Goods products available at our Milwaukee location on May 6th from 11 AM to 3 PM and at our Madison location on Saturday, May 20th from 11 AM to 3 PM.

How did Sandhill Goods get started?

Sandhill Goods started as a COVID passion-project. I have always loved thrifting and saw shopping second hand as an integral part of a sustainable lifestyle. However, I realized that some folks may find thrifting a little daunting and time-consuming, and be unsure of where to start. I also wanted to use secondhand shopping as a gateway to sharing resources with others around sustainability, climate justice, and other social justice issues that are deeply connected to the climate crisis. After all - true sustainability requires intersectional environmentalism (shout out to Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist @intersectionalenvironmentalist).

What would you like for people to know about your shop?

Sandhill Goods strives to build collective power around sustainability issues by way of shopping secondhand. Besides curating vintage and secondhand items for others, we donate 20% of profits each month to an organization directly addressing issues and dismantling systems that impact the well-being of humans, the planet, and the places in which we inhabit. We deeply believe the people should always be put over profit!

When was your last thrift trip?

Last Saturday! I went to an estate sale in the morning (it was a big one and took me an hour and a half to get in!!) and then St. Vinny’s Dig N’ Save. It was a full and sweaty morning, to say the least. 

What are you currently on the hunt for?

Currently, I’m hunting for summer staples, like dresses, swimwear, shorts, and skirts. I’m also doing my very first curated style box for someone and having a ton of fun sourcing for them. I’m hoping to do more of these in the future and offer them widely to the public.

Do you have rules for what to buy vs. pass on? 

My number one rule is to always check each item for flaws. Stains, missing fixtures or closures, rips, tears, etc. There are items I can definitely fix or treat for these flaws but some items are beyond repair. If I miss a flaw, I will often try to repair or offer up in a Buy Nothing group on Facebook for folx that are interested in the project or who may have other uses for the item.

For smaller and more centralized stains, I use the Stain stick I bought from Green Life because it packs a big punch and is zero waste. I also always use the Oxy Boost (also from Green Life) in laundry to give the cleaning process even more ummph. 

What do you bring with you when you set out for sourcing goods?

A list of ISO from customers, a measuring tape, hydration, hand sanitizer, a mask, reusable shopping bags, and an open mind.

What fuels your thrift trips?

  • A good podcast, such as The Adventure Zone (for Dungeons and Dragons storytelling), Keep It! (for pop culture) or the Clotheshorse Podcast (for info on the fashion industry and how to shop more sustainably). 
  • Water!!!
  • A good snack - like a delicious ham and gruyere croissant from Bloom Bake Shop or candied pecans from Nutkrack.

    What will you always buy?

    Anything with bright, bold patterns and mom jeans! I joke that I’m basically always shopping for an 80’s and 90’s sitcom mother figure but there’s always a little truth in humor…

    What will you never buy?

    I tend to pass on items that seem “trendy.” I want to find items that can stand the test of time or can be styled in modern ways to show someone’s true fashion personality and, ultimately, bring them joy!

    What is your favorite fashion trend right now?

    Wearing whatever the hell you want! I see so many people come up on my social media feeds embracing their truest selves and hyping up others for stepping out of their comfort zones. It’s really inspiring and makes my job all the more fun. 

    What fashion trends do you want to see fizzle out this year?

    Influencers propping up fast fashion brands. Brands like Shein, H&M, Free People, Urban Outfitters and many more, have permeated social media through influencers. I’d love to see more influencers becoming outfit repeaters instead of buying something for a photoshoot and then dumping it. Plus, there are SO many fast fashion brands at the thrift store - buying them second hand is always better than buying new.

    Do you fly solo or bring a pal?

    Since I get pretty focused and intense while thrifting, I tend to fly solo. However, there is a short list of people I like to go with because they have a different eye and may find things that I would normally pass by!

    What is disappointing to see when you go thrifting?

    Honestly, just how much STUFF is out there. Each and every thrift store and secondhand shop is packed to the gills with things that people have discarded or no longer want / need. 

    Who are your fashion heroes?

    Samata (@iam_samata) - the CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress, which champions sustainable red carpet designs and fashion initiatives. 

    Rihanna (@badgalriri) - I mean, you look up “icon” in the dictionary and there she is.

    Alok (@alokvmenon) - an amazing human and poet that seeks to break the gender binary and de-gender fashion. 

    Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) - she’s allowed herself to evolve overtime and truly leans into creativity.

    Katya (@katya_zamo) - her fashion is so quirky and weird and, honestly, unhinged, and I love it.

    Any notable fashion villains?

    The Kardashians. Need I say more about that? 

    Oh, and anyone that believes clothing is gendered or judges people for what they wear! Wear what you want!

    What is your advice for people just getting started with their sustainability journey?

    Try not to get overwhelmed and do too many lifestyle changes at once. Start with one shift, get into a habit of it and then, once it’s more deeply integrated into your life, add in another. 

    One lifestyle shift that is super impactful, but easier said than done is just buying LESS. It is a very American thing to buy, and buy, and buy. It can be hard to resist the little capitalist voice in your head telling you to consume more as a temporary solution to systemic issues. But simply decreasing your consumption can make a huge impact and save you money. 

    Any other wisdom to share?

    Ultimately, large corporations hold the bulk of the blame for the climate crisis. It’s important that we hold them accountable, get involved in community movements, and support those on the frontline of climate justice. While we cannot simply “paper straw” our way out of our environmental issues, individual acts add up and are a step in the right direction. 

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    • Oops…this is no the thrift shop in our city/state…my apologies!

      Denise Fisher on
    • Wondering about the tax I was charged on clothing?! I bought 3 pairs of jeans and nithing else and there was a sales tax charge. PA has not had a tax charge on clothing so I wondered if this was an oversight or intention?

      Denise Fisher on

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