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Thrift stores are so much more than just your best chance at winning the annual “Ugliest Christmas Sweater” competition.

My first memorable thrifting adventure was with my friend’s family on a road trip up the west coast from California to Canada when I was twelve. We stopped at a Salvation Army store somewhere in Oregon and my life was changed forever. We scored two golf clubs that first outing (necessary for our makeshift campground game) and from that point on, if we found a Salvation Army on the highway headed North you would have thought we were pulling into Disneyland.

I still love thrift stores.

Yes they take more time than retail, and no they aren’t the most convenient option – but they provide a unique shopping experience unlike any other (my wife would say that “unique” isn’t necessarily a good thing…).

Where else can you find an Ermenegildo Zegna jack- et for $19 or a Christian Dior belt for $7? The thrill of finding that piece that fits just right is worth combing through all of the rest that couldn’t be more wrong.

The key is to go thrifting in a city that shares your style.

Because of this, I don’t go to my local thrift store. I don’t want to dress like everyone else in my town, so I get outside of the local gene pool and save my thrift- ing adventures for The City by the Bay. Investment bankers and tech wizards have a lot more disposable income to spend on their wardrobes than I do at the moment, so I will gladly pick through their gently used hand-me-downs.

One of my all-time favorites is the Goodwill in Burlingame. Our friends used to live within walking distance of it (The amount of self-control it would take me not to go everyday if that was me…) so we could walk out their door, grab a cof- fee on the way, and proceed to peruse the Bay Area’s finest rejects – it was an incredible way tospend a Saturday morning.

Brand new Levi’s, all of last season’s offerings from Banana Republic (both Bay Area compa- nies), and some of t`he classiest custom tailored pieces from the bespoke clothiers in the area… oh, and this place comes with a skylight – need I say more?

I understand why some people will never shop at a thrift store, and I won’t try to convince you otherwise if that is you. But if you don’t have any qualms about it, it can be such a helpful tool to use as you figure out your personal style. Not only is it easy on the pocketbook (alright…Apple Pay), it also gives you a super low-commitment way to try new styles, new colors, and new fits that you might not be willing to try otherwise. You can try something for a season, you either love it or you hate it, then you take back whatever didn’t work and donate it right back to the same store you got it from.

It won’t be for everyone, but if you find yourself in a super bougie town with an hour to kill, give it a try for me and see if you don’t surprise yourself with what you learn about your own personal style through the experience – you might even become a convert.

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