Today’s installment of Sammy Davis Vintage is an exciting one, because it marks a featured piece on the site that I will be continually adding to based upon recommendations from you.
Many of you are proud thrift warriors (see that definition below, too!) and have a ton of “thrift jargon” that you use casually between thrift friends and family alike and while thrift store shopping.
While you may casually be using these pieces of lingo as if they were everyday conversation, the reality is that much of how we communicate in the thrifting world is a special language only understood by a small percentage of the population.
Keep reading after the jump to see just what I mean when I say “thrift jargon.” You’ll be shocked at just how many terms, expressions & euphemisms you may already be using — plus a few catchphrases that are brand-spankin’-new-to-you!
The blogger & thrift store stylist behind Goodwill Huntingg shares her reporting on why thrifting has gained popularity in recent years — specifically why shopping second hand is a more stylish investment of your retail budget!
Read her piece on the Trend of Thrift!
So now that you’ve checked out the thrifting 101 jargon below, how can you contribute your savvy secondhand sense to the dictionary of thrift?
EASY! Just leave a comment with your thrift jargon of choice in the comments below. I’ll continually update this post and add stars (like this **) next to newly updated terminology. And, so long as you’re cool with it, I’ll add your name AND link to your blog (or social media outlet of choice) for credit where credit is due!
So, fellow thrift warriors, are you with me? Can we make the largest, most collective source of thrift jargon this Internet has ever seen?!
I believe in the potential — just like I believe in YOUR secondhand style & vintage fashion passion!
Loving us spreading style peace together!
THRIFT AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A NAME GAME
GDUB / THE GW: Abbreviated term of endearment for “Goodwill,” a national thrift store chain that uses profits from stores to fund social services to individuals in local communities looking for work mentorship and opportunities. Adopted by thrifters who frequent Goodwill often and desire to nickname their thrifting haunt.
S&A / SAL VAL / SALVO: Abbreviated term of endearment for “Salvation Army,” an international evangelical arm of the Christian church that aims to “do the most good” through its services to the destitute, the poor, the hungry and the disadvantaged. It’s thrift stores are an arm of profit in order to fulfill its mission of “doing the most good.”
S&A is inspired by the popular British store Marks & Spencer, also affectionately referred to as “M&S.” Sal Val and Salvo are most popular amongst teens and progressive shoppers who associate the store with being a “shopping destination.”
**THE THRIFT:** Shortened term for “Thrift Store,” giving said retail secondhand store a verbal veil of importance by removing “store” and adding “the” for proper noun identification. Thanks to Goodwill Huntingg for this contribution!
“Ooohhh I love your jacket, where did you find it?”
“I got it at the thrift.“
YARD SAILING: The act of, during prime yard sale/garage sale season, “sailing” from yard to yard and garage to garage to find the goods collected in the close confines of a neighborhood or local area.
CO-SIGN: Abbreviation for “consignment,” goods that are sold at “consignment boutiques” and which are sold to give back a specific percentage of profit to its previous owner. Pieces are consignment stores are curated for top quality in material, trend relevance, style and affordability.
FLEA’IN: Youth-based expression for spending a day at the flea market, i.e. “I”m going flea’in today with my friends.”
ESTATE HUNT: When attending a scheduled estate sale — when the majority of contents within a person’s home/estate are put up to public sale — you are “on the hunt” for the quality pieces of merchandise for sale mixed in with middle-of-the-road selection.
TAG SALES: Industry term of estate sale. Items for sale are “tagged” for a particular (but negotiable) selling price by an individual hired outside of “estate family.” That individual barters as a middle-man-seller with estate sale buyers on the “tag price.”
GOING TO THE THRIFT STORE AND WE’RE, GONNA GET AP-PAR-EL…
THRIFTING: The act of going shopping at a thrift store. Using a verb, i.e. “I’m going thrifting today,” or “I had such a great thrifting adventure last week.”
THRIFT TOUR: When thrift store shopping, visiting more than one store in a single shopping “day” for culmination of a “thrift tour.”
SECONDHAND: Industry-speak for item and merchandise sold in any capacity that has been previously owned by a past buyer of said piece.
SECONDHAND STANDARDS: The standards of quality a thrift store shopper references when deciding on a secondhand purchase. One person’s secondhand standards may question its vintage value (see definition below, in “Thrift Shop Cred & Bonus Points) while another’s may rest in how many seasons ago that particular piece could have been bought new in stores.
“GOING TO THE SECOND MACYS”: As suggested by a follower of the Sammy Davis Vintage facebook page, the act of going to a thrift store because said store has as much merchandise available (from clothing, to housewares, to furniture, to knick knacks, shoes, jewelry, etc.) as your average Macy’s department store would carry.
THRIFT OR MISS: When perusing the racks at a thrift store, knowing that time spent might be “thrift or miss,” and that you might leave with an abundance of thrift gems (see definition below, in “Thrift Shop Cred & Bonus Points) or you may leave with absolutely nothing at all.
**THRIFT BUST:** Despite high hopes to thrift score (see “Thrift Shop Cred,” below), you leave the thrift store begrudgingly empty handed. Your disappointment fuels bitterness toward the thrift experience altogether, which is tweeted, texted and status updated to the digital world via a “thrift vent.” Thanks to JOEL EVEY for this contribution!
THRIFT SPREE: When in the mood to go shopping, deliberately visiting a variety of thrift stores (see “thrift tour” above) and spending an ample amount of money to fulfill a “thrift shopping spree.”
STOCKPILE SAVER: When thrifting, purposely buying items that while you might not need at that particular moment, you will need in the near future because they are a popular item in your life and/or household. You thus “stockpile” them and save for the day when you will be able to have said piece available within your reach.
THRIFTIN’ AFFAIR: As a chronic thrifter, you begin to develop a personal relationship with your thrift store, recognizing employees by first name, having “special” access to the backroom bathroom and never failing to park in “your spot.” These intimate relations begin to develop into a “thrift affair” with said thrift store, and visiting another thrift store would involve a “thrift cheat.”
**TONNAGE:** When upon entering a thrift store, you marvel at it’s size and selection of merchandise, which you refer to as “tonnage.” Thanks to Facebook fan page HANNAH MASTERS for this contribution!
THRIFT TILL YOU DROP!
GET THE GOODS: When entering a thrift store, you achieve a predetermined list of thrift shopping goals in almost an adrenaline-induced, race-like pace. In other words, you have your eye on the prize in order to “get the goods” and are not distracted by other opportunities at said store.
FIND FORTUNE: A casual trip to the thrift store presents an unexpected “find fortune” that you did not foresee or could have predicted. Find fortune is usually determined by whether it meets “thrift standards” (see definition above, in “Going to the Thrift Store) or is a bulk find of “thrift gems” (see definition below, in “Thrift Shop Cred & Bonus Points).
THRIFT PURPOSE: Before setting foot into a thrift store, you communicate a sole “purpose” for entering said store. Your purpose may be to “find a winter coat” or “look through shoes for children’s growing feet.” It is a goal with an end achievement in mind.
THRIFT TOOLS: Various tools brought to the thrift store to make your visit faster, more pleasant, and more effective in achieving your “thrift purpose” to “get the goods” (see both definitions, above). Tools could involve an iPod for pleasant music listening, a coffee for extra energy, a measuring tape to brainstorm sewing opportunities, or swatches of paint/wallpaper/curtains to pair against potential home decor.
THRIFT TRIPPIN’ / THRIFT TRAVELS: The act of leaving your daily environment/town/community to travel farther than you would normally in order to visit a thrift store. Travel time is usually more than 30 minutes one way, and requires a “food break” in order to gain hydration and increase energy for said thrift trip.
THRIFT TUNES: The pump-me-up-to-thrift music that you listen to while driving to said thrift store or listen to on iPod while thrifting (see “Thrift Tools,” above). Can be music similar to that of a workout or a motivational mix.
**THRIFT MUZAK:**“The music that plays in the background at a thrift store. It can motivate or demotivate you depending on your personal tastes.” Thanks to Sandra Witt of THE WITCHERY VINTAGE for this contribution!
FAMILY DAY: A weekly occurring day in Salvation Army thrift stores called “Family Day” allowing for 50 percent off all merchandise but one tag color, which varies by week. Referred to as “Family Day” to encourage families to shop in order to save money for economical purposes. Usually on Wednesdays.
SALVAGE SALE: When the contents of a previous vintage or consignment seller are sold at a deeply discounted price to interested buyers. Seller has “salvaged” what remains of inventory and put up for sale to break even on original purchase price of acquiring said pieces.
THRIFT HAUL: The affectionate, and sometimes negative, term applied to a “thrift spree” (see definition above, in “Going to the Thrift Store”) that was an unnecessary indulgence and could have been scaled back to more reasonable purchasing.
THRIFT CRUNCH: When visiting a thrift store for less than a 20 minute period, it is called a “thrift crunch.” Thrift stores are known for their size and stature, thus 20-minute-and-under time allotments can actually cause additional stress and rush on thrift shopper, resulting in a “thrift crunch.”
ONCE A THRIFTER, ALWAYS A THRIFTER
THRIFT WARRIOR: The tongue-in-cheek term given to an individual who has an obsessive, almost aggressive passion for thrifting. Said thrift warrior always carries thrift tools, thrift travels regularly and keeps very high thrift standards. Thrift warriors are examples of secondhand gurus.
THRIFT GODDESS: Ladies who thrift shop the majority of their wardrobes and are continually complimented for their flattering outfits and high-fashion looks. They accept compliments with thanks and respond with the shocking information that it was “bought at the thrift store.”
THRIFTSTER: A 13-year-old to 21-year-old alternative living, “downtown” teen who shops his or her wardrobe and home furnishings/decor in an attempt to differentiate from society and from “buying into the mainstream.”
THRIFT TWIN: When shopping at the thrift store, you spot an individual in the same shopping section as you wearing a similar outfit, with a cart or basket filled with similar pieces, and more often than not, checking you out with a skeptical eye. Oftentimes misunderstood as “thrift competition,” the “thrift twin” is a stranger in a thrift store who could potentially become your thrift shopping friend due to your similar shopping and personality quirks.
THRIFT CONVERT: An individual who has been persuaded by a thrifter — who is also a friend — to “join the other side” and begin shopping at thrift stores with zeal and enthusiasm.
SALE SCOUTER: Thrift shoppers who hold “thrift sales” as part of their secondhand standards (see definition above, in “going to the thrift store”) and who “scout the store” before a regularly scheduled sale so that they can enter, acquire and purchase merchandise with ease and speed. Said sale scouter will, for example, visit a Salvation Army store on a Tuesday — the day before a Family Day 50 percent off sale occurring on a Wednesday — find his/her collection to purchase, put it to the side (oftentimes “stashing” in a secret spot where employees can’t see it) and return when the doors open the next day to retrieve it and purchase without added stress of shopping amongst crowds (and many times on Family Day, crying babies).
DEAL DIVA: A second identity to the “thrift goddess” (see definition, above in this section) who upon being complimented for her high sense of fashion, almost obnoxiously proclaims, “Oh this thing? I got it at the thrift store for ONLY $5 BUCKS!” Complimenter appreciates insight into the art of thrifting however thinks to themselves, “Geez, she’s a DEAL DIVA!”
RETRO ROOTS: A euphemism for an individual’s sense of “retro roots,” i.e. “He loves shopping thrift stores to find all the gear to suit his retro roots.” Individual could have been born in a “retro era” in comparison to today, or could be a youthful girl/guy with an interest in fashions of the past. No matter the age, we can all pull out our “retro roots” in a thrift store.
THRIFT FAMILY: The many individuals in the United States and beyond who hold thrift shopping as an art of pride, joy and satisfaction. When meeting another “thrifter” in an unlikely situation — say, at a family reunion or standing in line at the post office — you are instant “friends/family” because of your shared passion and self-identity for thrifting.
**THRIFT HOG:** “That rude thrifter who pushes aside all of the clothing at their end of the rack so they can comfortably view each garment, while you’re sifting at the opposite end of the rack suffering from “Pinched-hanger finger” and crowded garment (aka NYC closet) effect.” Thanks to Kristie of LA THRIFTY LIFE for this contribution!
**THRIFT POSTER:** “Single men who walk aimlessly through the thrift store aisles, pretending to thrift, sometimes handing out a compliment or asking your advice on a potential garment purchase, when their real intention is to pick up on women. I get hit on at least once a month, and I’m 44 (crazy) — maybe I’m a ‘thrift-magnet.’ ” Thanks to Kris of LA THRIFTY LIFE for this contribution!
**THRIFT SISTER:** An endearing term for anyone sharing the “thrift experience” with you, and through this connection is deemed your “thrift sister” however unrelated you may be. Facebook fan pages like THRIFTED SISTER cultivate this community of a “thrift family” (see definition above) with personalization and pride in one another’s unique thrift journeys. Thanks to THRIFTED SISTER for this contribution!
**THRIFT SENSE:** “A term for shoppers who can go into a store and have a armful of the best vintage items in the store within five minutes of entering much to the chagrin of everyone around them.” Thanks to Christina of PHILLYDIVA for this contribution!
THRIFT SHOP CRED & BONUS POINTS
DEADSTOCK: Materials and merchandise from a company that has “gone under” i.e. no longer exists in the market, and which has simply donated its remaining merchandise that is no longer produced to a local thrift store. Deadstock may also be a particular style/cut/design that was not successful at a boutique or local department store which carried it, and instead of selling other arenas (to third world countries, etc.) has simply pursued the path of least resistance and donated to a thrift store.
OVERSTOCK: Materials and merchandise which like examples of some deadstock, did not sell successfully enough to “sell out” and which are sold in bulk or by the pound to a thrift store for said thrift store’s own discretion at marked up price for profit. Target often sells its “overstock” to thrift stores, which is why you can find these pieces with tags and other evidence that the piece has never been used and is therefore not technically “second hand.”
THRIFT TIPS: The secrets of the trade — as relayed often on this site and through the Sammy Davis Vintage fan page and YouTube channel — that help beginner to expert thrifters alike learn, grow and celebrate their mutual passion for thrift store shopping.
THRIFT TRICKS: Slighty sneaky tricks to get “a leg up” against other thrift store shoppers (or just to have some innocent fun). Examples include visiting a thrift store before a big sale to “scout” the sales (see definition above, in “Once a Thrifter”) and then hiding merchandise in low traffic area of store for quick retrieval on sale day. Beware: Thrift Tricks are definitely not for kids.
THRIFT TOKEN: A mostly useless miscellaneous piece of thrift store merchandise that wins an affectionate place in a thrifters heart because it was found on the day of a particularly fun, successful or happy thrift shopping day. Said thrift token is placed in home as a reminder to pleasurable thrift adventures of past, present and future.
COST OF INVESTMENT: When deciding to purchase a piece at a thrift store, the estimated “cost of investment” as determined by return-by-wear or return-by-use. A $30 thrift store coat may seem like an expensive purchase on thrift store terms, however if this coat is estimated to be worn at an almost daily rate for a three-month season, that breaks down to $.03 a wear and a very low cost of investment when compared to its return.
THRIFT CREATIONS: The imaginative projects created by combining multiple pieces of merchandise from a thrift store. A thrift creation could be a ’70s boho chic outfit using “reto roots” (see definition above, in “Once a Thrifter”) or by mixing and matching china to create a lovely place setting at the dining room table. The thrift creation is inspired by what you see at the thrift store and mixed and matched with other pieces you find to purchase or already own at home.
THRIFT SCORE: As a thrift shopper is scouring the racks, she/he is taken aback by a true “thrift gem” (see definition below, in this section) and delightfully thinks and/or yells out loud to a shopping comrade, “THRIFT SCORE!” as if playing a sports game and “points” were just achieved.
SECONDHAND SPLURGE: When shopping at a thrift store, tag sale, yard sale or the like, the decision to spend a few extra dollars than normal for a purchase is determined reasonable and necessary, however the extra investment is thought of as a “secondhand splurge” by said buyer.
THRIFT TREASURE: No matter the value, “score,” or amount of pieces, all purchases at a thrift store are referred to as “thrift treasure” because thrift shopper has “dug through the trash” to reveal the treasure that speaks to his or her heart, aesthetic and “secondhand standards” (see definition above, in “Going to the Thrift Store”)
THRIFT GEMS/DIAMONDS/JEWELS: Pieces of thrift store merchandise acquired that you affectionately refer to as “thrift gems/diamonds/jewels” or any similar term of special endearment because said piece has found a permanent place in your home/wardrobe and/or life. This particular piece was not particularly of high value or difference from other finds, however it holds personal value because it’s reoccurring presence in your life has deemed its value higher and relationship to you stronger.
VINTAGE VALUE: When thrift store shopping, investing in pieces that possess “vintage value.” By industry definition, vintage are pieces at least 20 years old, typically produced and worn in the 1980s decade. One thrift shopper’s vintage value standards may differ from another’s depending on their “retro roots” (see definition above, in “Once a Thrifter”) and how they plan to wear/use/sell piece.
REUSE & REPURPOSE: The sustainability-driven catch phrase of buying something at the thrift store because you are investing in a piece of merchandise that has already been produced, and therefore not contributing to a damaging carbon footprint on the planet. Repurpose relates to the act of buying a piece of secondhand material and reinventing a new purpose for it that is relevant and interesting to your life, such as using flower vases for bookends or china as wall decoration.
**THRIFT GRAIL:** The holy grail of all thrift stores. This is the store that you rely on time and time again to present you with multiple thrift scores, thrift gems, thrift treasures and tons o’ vintage value! (see all definitions above). Thanks to Sheridan of GIGWORN ATHENS THRIFT STORE for this contribution!
**THRIFTALICIOUS:** The descriptive term of excitement bestowed upon a designer handbag find at an unknowing thrift store; i.e. the value of the purse is sold second hand for much less than it should be, and you reap the “thriftalicious” benefits. Thanks to SECOND HAND ROSE VINTAGE for this contribution!
GIVE ME THRIFT OR GIVE ME DEATH!
THRIFT STORE RAGE: When shopping at a thrift store, individual is overcome with anger due to an unpleasant shopping environment that might be a hypothetical mix of screaming children, absent supply of carts, crowded aisle, obnoxious music and a broken air conditioner. Thrift store rage is provoked by a variety of elements and can be a seriously ailment. It is recommended to leave said thrift store when the onset of thrift store rage is felt, to prevent further damage to yourself and others.
THRIFT RUSH / THRIFT HIGH: The adrenaline-induced high of thrift store shopping. A thrift “rush” might be felt when first entering a thrift store or when securing a thrift store “score” (see definition above, in “Thrift Shop Cred”). Thrift rushes can be addicting and also harder to achieve following each thrift store visit. Some seasoned thrifters have been known to take “thrift vacations” (the act of deliberately avoiding thrift stores for a period of time) in order to achieve that “thrift rush” when thrifting once again.
THRIFT TRAGEDY: Whilst thrifting, an individual finds what at first appears to be a thrift store gem (see definition above, in “Thrift Shop Cred”) and then upon closer examination, recognizes that it does not meet their secondhand standards (see definition above, in “Going to the Thrift Store”) because of damage, wear, tear or other standard-lessening identifiers as determined by thrifter. Disappointment settles, and the thrift find becomes a “thrift tragedy.”
THRIFT TRADITION: Like a holiday or an annual vacation or pilgrimage, thrift store shopping at a regular store and on a regular date has become a “thrift tradition.” This tradition is often shared with members of an individual’s family or inner-thrift-friend circle, and can mark an important date or fall regularly on a weekly date.
THRIFT RELEASE: In times of emotional and spiritual need, a thrift shopper visits his or her favorite store in order to achieve a “thrift release” to cleanse the mind and soul of outside stress, distraction and baggage. Thrift store shopping replaces therapy and helps individual much like taking medication or meditating would.
THRIFT CORE: When a thrift shopper is so involved in the thrift shopping industry that he or she spends most disposable time researching, planning and discussing future thrift tours (see definition above, in “Going to the Thrift Store) and develops an almost identity-based relationship with the act of thrifting. This individual saves money to spend money thrifting and has an aggressive, competitive edge when first encountered. Like a dog trained to fight, average thrifters are warned to stay wary of the thrift core.
Additionally, Thrift Core is the name of one of the most popular thrift chronicle blogs.
THRIFT TALK: The conversation between seasoned thrifters at a thrift store/tag sale/yard sale and the like. Thrift talk usually originates over discussion of a particular piece — “What do you think of this?” may jumpstart a conversation.
THRIFT GODS: The spiritual understanding that there is a higher power cultivating opportunity to shop and secure the pieces that are right and meant for you in a thrift store. The thrift Gods accept prayers and enjoy presenting their followers with a life of fun & fresh thrifting to those who open their hearts and understand that like life, thrifting is a journey, and not a destination.
MORE THRIFT SHOPPING TIPS
HEALTH: Why Thrift Shopping is an Addiction
WEALTH: How to Save Money Thrift Shopping
RISK: 10 Risky Items Not to Buy at a Thrift Store