I'm not someone who has many addictions (other than the ones in my writer's bio). But if there is something that I definitely know used to get out of hand for me was my fixation with thrift stores. The clothes (and other items) are cheap. The findings are oftentimes one of a kind. And, since everything in the store is used, thrifting is great for the environment.
That's great 'n all, but the (other) problem that I used to have was that I didn't know how to make the most out of my thrift store shopping experience. Although I've always had a pretty good eye, I didn't realize that I could save a lot of time and even more money if I applied a few tricks.
Know better, do better. Through a little trial and error, I now know how to thrift store shop with the best of 'em. I promise that if you apply even half of these tips, you'll enjoy thrifting so much more than you probably already do!
Download the Thrifty Pickers AppGiphy
I have my favorite thrift stores (most real thrift store shoppers do), but as Music City continues to grow, it's hard to keep up with all of the ones that are popping up. One way to find thrift stores that are in your own city is to download the Thrifty Pickers app. It's currently got 12,000-and-counting national listings.
Also, a site that provides a decent amount of thrift store listings is Thrift Shopper. Oh, and if you'd prefer the convenience of buying (and selling) locally online, Offer Up is a cool app. Mercari is too.
Be Willing to Drive Kinda Far
A thrift store hack that a lot of people sleep on is this: Don't assume that going to a store in the middle of a major city means that you're going to get the best selections. The truth of the matter is if you're intentional about going to smaller towns, you'll probably end up with the best stuff.
The reason is because they typically don't get enough merchandise from their community to stay afloat, so bigger cities will ship some of their extra stuff in. Because of this, it's not uncommon to find designer items or things with the tags still on them.
Dress for the OccasionGiphy
Something that thrift stores don't have an abundance of is dressing rooms. Plus, most people will break the rules and take at least 10 items of clothing in one to try on which could take for-e-ver. One way to work around this is to go thrifting with a tank top and a pair of leggings. That way, everything will be "snug enough" for you to try things on, on top of your clothes, whether you're able to get a dressing room or not.
Ask Management What Day They Restock Items
There used to be a time when I went thrifting so much (two times a week, easily) that I would get frustrated because I wouldn't really see anything new. If you can feel my pain, the way to not waste a trip to your own store is to ask management to tell you the day they restock new stuff. Most stores do it at least once (if not twice) a week.
Get Kids’ Clothes. Don’t Get Swimsuits.
I don't have children of my own, but I do have two goddaughters and tons of love nieces and nephews. There are a couple of websites where I like to get them things but, since kids grow so fast, I also like to get items at thrift stores too. The clothes are cute and really affordable.
As you're perusing the aisles, here's a word of caution. Please avoid stuffed animals and car seats. If you've ever seen how a little one acts with their favorite stuffed animal, you can just imagine why that's a no-no. As far as car seats go, since the manufacturer is supposed to upgrade them every couple of years, chances are, the ones that are on thrift store shelves are already outdated which makes them a total waste of money.
As far as what you should absolutely avoid buying at thrift stores? Underwear and swimsuits. I won't lie, you'll probably see some cute bras and bikinis there, but since you have absolutely no idea who wore them before you (or what their hygiene was like)…well.
Avoid the Weekends
This one might be a no-brainer but it's still worth reiterating. The weekend is when everyone and their grandma is out in the streets, so if you go thrifting midday on Saturday, all of the good stuff will probably be picked over. Your best bet is to go on a Wednesday. It's quieter, less crowded and usually some restocking has happened by then.
Cop a Few Gift CardsGiphy
Every little bit of savings helps. That said, a website where you can buy (and sell) gift cards is Raise. If you use it to get a gift card to Goodwill, you'll automatically save an additional five percent.
Remember That Vintage Runs Small
I really like vintage clothing. Back when I was between size 5-6, copping some vintage threads was no big deal. Now that I'm a size 10, well. Let's just say that I own a lot less vintage items than I used to. That's because, unfortunately, vintage clothing tends to run small (because there weren't a lot of "us" being major fashion designers back in the day). So, if you see a pencil skirt or cashmere sweater from the 40s that doesn't fit, don't take it personally. It probably doesn't fit anyone over 100 pounds. SMH.
Tip: If you do happen to find a vintage piece you're able to rock, you can research the label by going here.
Even in this day and age, the reality is not all thrift stores take credit or even debit cards. Even if they do, there's a chance that they may require a minimum purchase before you use them. This is one reason why using cash is best. Another reason is because if you've got $50 in your wallet, that is basically your spending cap.
Cash is a good way to keep you on a budget. When rent time rolls back around, you'll be glad that you put yourself on one.
Become Buddies with the Employees
It's a good idea to be nice to employees anywhere you go, simply because you're a kind person. But I'd be lying to you if I said there aren't immediate perks that come right along with consistently engaging sales associates at thrift stores. At my absolute favorite store, I became cool with a few cashiers and it wasn't long before I was getting at least an additional 50 percent on things I purchased. Not every once in a while; every time.
Talk to Yourself
Remember how I said that I used to be a thrift store shopping addict? At one point, things had gotten so ridiculous that I had to tell myself that even if I could get 10 great dresses for $15 a pop, I don't need that many. Half would sit in my closet for months on end which ultimately means I still wasted money. That was crazy since the entire point of thrifting in the first place is to save money.
One way you can avoid having 30 sweaters hanging up in your closet is to ask yourself things like, "Do I really need this?", "Do I already have something similar to this?" and "What occasion would I actually wear this?" If once you ask these questions, all you can say to yourself is, "I dunno. I just like it", rethink if it really is a good idea to get it.
Hint: If you know there's a chance you won't wear it within the first three months of owning it, it's probably best to leave it right where it is.
Take a Friend Along
Whether you'd like to have some company on the way, you want someone to thumbs up or side-eye you while you pull from the racks on or you'd prefer to have an individual to be on the lookout while you're trying on clothes in a back aisle, thrift store shopping is so much more fun if you take a bestie along.
Fun, sales and flyness. It's what thrifting is all about. Why do it alone?
Featured image by Getty Images
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
I didn’t think much could get better about the blissful high that comes with oral. That was until I came across the Kivin Method.
As someone who was never a huge fan of oral sex and could largely take it or leave it, I must admit that I have started to come around in recent years. With my head thrown back, hands gripping sheets and hair, and toes curling from the intense sensations of the work my partner is putting in at my center, I now give myself over to the pleasurable act wholly and unapologetically.
When I came across a way to maximize the pleasure I receive from cunnilingus (already), I had no choice but to tap in. Who knew the key to taking oral sex to new heights was giving it a sideways twist? For those of you who might also be interested in ways to spice up the way you do oral, experience faster and stronger orgasms, or simply want to indulge in something new with your partner, the Kivin Method could definitely be the oral sex technique for you, too.
Keep reading to learn about the method that is sure to have you writhing in ecstasy in no time at all.
What Is The Kivin Method?
For the uninitiated, the Kivin Method is an oral sex technique that focuses on stimulating the clitoris from a different angle. Dubbed “sideways oral” by some, this method involves the action of giving head from a side-to-side movement as opposed to the up-and-down motion that people typically perform when giving head. (If you need a visual, this illustration is helpful.)
The difference in approach as you’re receiving head can be a game-changer in how you receive pleasure. Not only does the giving partner have access to the clitoris, but they can also access more easily the vulva and the labia, which are objectively a bigger focus in this version of cunnilingus. More access means wider coverage, and that, plus the new sensation of oral from a different angle, can heighten the way you experience oral sex that much more.
Where more pleasure flows, intense orgasms are sure to follow.
How To Do The Kivin Method
If you want to know how to do the Kivin Method, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The receiver lays on their back while the giver positions themselves perpendicular to the receiver. Their head will be facing the vulva, but instead of vertical, their face will be horizontal to the vulva.
From there, the giver can get to business, ensuring that they keep their head perpendicular to the receiver’s vulva while working on their craft. Because this technique can be more intense for some receivers, start slowly by stroking the vulva and clitoris sideways with the tongue, and allow sensations and communication from the receiver to be a guide of what you need more or less of with the Kivin Method.
Ultimately, the Kivin Method allows experimentation and unlocking what pressure, rhythm, and tricks work best for the giver and the receiver. Try implementing a finger or two, or adding a sex toy to the mix to intensify the act even further.
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images