The Thrift Whisperer: Interview with Kim Holcomb

by Katherine Boury, Seattle Goodwill
July 29, 2014

You probably know Kim Holcomb as a reporter for King 5’s Evening Magazine, but did you also know she is a dedicated thrift shopper? She has her own blog, The Thrift Whisperer, that focuses on her unique finds – including my personal favorite (the vintage Trifari ring that she bought at the South Lake Union Goodwill). Kim shares some of her best finds and tips for shopping thrift.

How did you start shopping thrift?
My first experiences were at thrift stores in Venice Beach during high school, in search of worn denim. But I didn’t make thrifting an essential part of my lifestyle until I moved to Seattle. My sister-in-law gets full credit for introducing me to Goodwill, especially for kids’ clothing!

You have a personal blog, the Thrift Whisper, that you share some of your best purchases. Why did you start the blog and what kind of feedback do you receive?
It all began with a few photos I posted on Instagram, showing off what I’d found and listing the prices. People went bananas. So I decided to begin blogging as a way to better explain my purchases, and encourage others to try re-sale shopping. One day at work, my friend Jessica admired a bag I’d found at Goodwill and said “You’re like a thrift whisperer.” And the name of my blog was born!

You include the prices of your purchases on your blog. Do you find that your readers are surprised that you can put together a stylish outfit for such a reasonable price?
I think that’s the biggest point of interest, for sure. My friends who live in places outside Western Washington are consistently impressed by the variety and quality of items I thrift, as well. I think we live in a unique market for re-sale. People support sustainability and donate some amazing things.

What are some of your favorite finds?
It’s hard to narrow them all down! But I’d say my absolute favorites are a vintage Celine bag I bought for $50; a vintage wicker clutch by Italian brand Rodo I found for only $8; a vintage watch-ring by Trifari for just $6.50; and a hand-beaded cocktail dress by designer Carmen Marc Valvo that retails for $800, which I bought for only $80.

If someone was new to shopping thrift what tips would you give them?
First and foremost, go with someone who can help you navigate the store. Thrifting can be overwhelming, especially for people who are used to sales clerks and traditional store racks. It’s also important to know brands and retail prices, so you’ll have a good grasp of the savings (and understand why some things cost a little more than others.) Be patient. Go often. Pay attention to the tag colors - I’ve saved a TON of money by limiting myself to 50% off tags. And finally, don’t buy something if you can’t use it immediately. It’s not a bargain if it just sits in your closet!

Do you have a store you shop more frequently? 
My favorite location is in South Lake Union - it’s like a boutique, and I’ve had the best luck finding accessories and brand new shoes there. I also shop Ballard frequently because it’s large and has a great selection of housewares. (I’ve gotten some great dresses there, too!)

How would you define Northwest style?
In my mind, Northwest style means finding multiple ways to express yourself through clothing. Since we have no choice but to layer 9 months a year, we have to think about outerwear as much as our primary outfit. But that gives us so many more ways to make a statement! I love mixing patterned tights, slouchy beanies, and statement scarves in the winter.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the thrill of the thrifting hunt; clean lines and muted colors; unique jewelry and high heels; my friends and co-workers’ senses of style; and a few select fashion blogs. Thrifting is a great way to save money, recycle, and find your authentic style. Have fun!


Katherine Boury is the Communications Manager at Seattle Goodwill.

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