Like a local: Thrift shopping in Tallinn


“If nothing goes right, go shopping…”

Thrift Shop Van with Board sign


They say that you cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you’re thinking of saving up your hard-earned money for something bigger in the near or distant future, you’ve to start being thrifty. Imagine a scenario where you have been eyeing that glamorous handbag or that handsome blazer only to find out that it costs you an arm and a leg (and possibly more).


Let’s however, take the time to thank the blessed souls who first started the concept of second-hand shopping. Tallinn has quite a lot of second-hand shops, if only you know where to look. But the buck does not stop there. You need to know how to go about buying stuff so you don’t end up emptying their aisles and filling your closet. So, let’s get right into it.


Research, research and research before heading out!

If you’re someone who is phobic to this word, I apologise, but I simply cannot come up with another way to circumvent this. A proper research is necessary so that you will come to know what’s on sale, where the sale is being held and when. Stepping out without prior knowledge or an idea of what your purchase is going to consist of, is like sitting at a restaurant and then deciding if you want to eat out or not. A quick google search ought to do the trick.

Or, you may also sign up for newsletters such as this one so that the latest events, offers and happenings in Tallinn are delivered right to your inbox. Humana Estonia are exclusive second-hand shops in Estonia and they often have great products at amazing prices! A suggestion would be to keep checking their page.


Sometimes, however, having no plan is the best plan

It’s that day of the week again and you have absolutely no energy or the mood to be all productive and organised. I get it. I’ve been there and done that way too many times. You decide to head out shopping but your mind goes blank and you struggle to even make the simplest of choices. This happens when you don’t have a plan. It’s not an offence though, because we cannot plan every single thing in our life. What I would do in such situations would be to not buy anything but merely glance through the products and the discounts. It’s what I would call a “recce”. I suggest you do the same as it really helps! You can maybe even improvise it by jotting down those that are on sale or those products which you think you might need.


Making choices - Thrift Store


Take stock of your wardrobe

The most important step probably would be to take stock of what’s there in your wardrobe and what’s not. That way, you’ll know what to look for once out shopping. This is probably a very important step as it not only gives you a clear picture, but also makes you a thrifty shopper. True, shopping does make you all woozy as you ogle at everything on sale. Even if the products on the shelves seem to beckon to you, put your foot down, summon that steely resolve that we all have and pull out your shopping list. This is the kryptonite for that urge.


Taking stock of clothes - Clothesline at a Thrift Store


Second-hand stores are different from regular stores

Practise and preach this line.

They are very different. It may be easy to find different sizes of, say clothing or apparel at a regular store. This may not be possible in second-hand stores all the time. The products that you see are slightly refurbished items either donated or handed to the dealers and hence it’s not fair to demand different sizes of the same product in such places. You may have to change your shopping style accordingly.


Luxurious items in second-hand shops?

It sounds weird doesn’t it? I’m not blaming you, because that’s exactly how the human mind works. It links adjectives like “old”, “worn”, “dusty” and “torn” with the phrase “second-hand”. But you’ll be surprised to actually know that some of these stores sell used and/or refurbished luxury (or branded) items and/or even elegant, antique furniture! So, remember this tip: if you’re looking for a branded product but are not ready to spend a bomb for it, check out these places for a change.

It might just turn out to be your lucky day!


Go around the store a few times

Imagine you have just found out a very good thrift store that has great deals. You have your shopping list ready and you are sure of what you want. What is the first thing that you would do as soon as you enter the store?

If your answer was to start pulling down items from the shelves into your shopping cart, I’m going to stop you right there.


Go around the entire store and through all the aisles before you jump in to the ‘shopping-spree mode’. This way, you’ll get to know the types of products that are being sold and who knows, you might even end up finding out something that you’ve always wanted to, that wasn’t included in your shopping list in the first place.


Go around and look at all the items at a thrift store


Having said all that, always remember to carry your own bag when you go out shopping. Shopping at thrift stores are actually environment friendly so why not take it up a notch and take your own bags?

Since we are talking about being thrifty and thrift stores, I would also like to quickly mention about the Erasmus Charity Box Initiative. Now this may not be a store, but this is definitely a place where you can find some cool second-hand stuff!

Finally, check these thrift shops in Tallinn:

Text: Anirudh Ramesh