Ukay-Ukay Top Tips – Things you should remember when Thrift shopping

” I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket.” 

I know it’s not a popular opinion but I totally adore going to ukay-ukays (Thrift Shops) and rummaging for clothes that are not only fashionable but are also very cheap and affordable. I’ve heard so many negative things about this hobby of mine from other people but I never seem to quit it. Even though they’re pre-loved, I still find it so fun to do and I think at least once a month, I find myself going to my favorite branch. 


Some of you would eek with shock or disgust with the thought of thrifting, I mean come on, you’re buying a piece already owned and used by someone else. That must be dirty, you might think but hey, Fashion doesn’t need to be brand new. Fashion knows no brand.

For you fashion savvy, thrift loving people, I made these Top Things you should remember when you go to an Ukay-Ukay store. (Especially in the Philippines)

If you’re reading this, whether or not you’re a fan of ukay-ukay, I hope you  appreciate these tips. 

Before Going


– You got to make sure that the thrift store you’re going to is safe and located at a place really familiar to you. There are hundreds of Ukay-Ukays in Metro Manila. There must be more than twenty (20) Thrift stores fully operating in Cubao, Quezon City only. We should be careful of our belongings and money. You don’t know what might be lurking around those areas. Try reading about the ukay-ukay branch first and bringing a friend or two would be really helpful.

– Dress appropriately and accordingly! Its crazy hot in most stores. There is Air Conditioning in a few stores, but these don’t really work that well. If possible, look as basic and avoid wearing anything that might indicate wealth. Store clerks are vultures. They have the ability to change prices according to how much they think you can pay for it. Watch out! I used to visit ukay-ukays wearing boots and a coat and got charged really high (like 150) for clothes that were hanging at 50php and below. Total shocker!

– Make a budget. Allocate money thats meant for clothes and hide the rest. Most people get too overwhelmed by the price of the clothes they could buy that they spend more than what they planned. Dont be an over spender, (me) dont buy too much.


When you’re there

– Get ready for battle. If the branch isn’t packed with people, it’s fine to take your time in choosing and “rummaging” clothes. Explore the place and decide whether you wanna check out the bags section or look more at the coats and jacket areas. If the place is crowded, make sure you hold on to your finds so that they won’t get nabbed by other Thrift shoppers.

– Make sure you’re always checking your belongings. Keep your phone, wallet and other important items safe and tucked in your bag and if possible, avoid taking them out as not to attract any attention.

– Never leave your things at the baggage counter if it’s not being manned by a guard. 

– Prioritize the items on sale. Look for tags ranging from 20php – 60php first. Look for anything thats would suit your style or would look great on you. If there are none, move on to the next areas. 

– Dont worry about the smell. You’re sanitizing and washing that later on.

– Check every part of the clothing. Make sure that there aren’t any damage on the piece. Even the smallest hole or stain should be noticed. You’re buying pre-loved clothes not clothes that are supposed to be thrown away.

– Search every nook and cranny. You’ll find the most amazing pieces buried deep within the pile. For most thrift shops, clothes are hanged. You should check every piece if you wanna really feel the ukay-ukay vibe.

– Be sure to check the sizes of your chosen pieces. It may look really good but it would be a waste if it doesn’t fit you. 

– Lastly, Never try them on. These clothing have never been washed. They’ve been touched by other people and has reached who knows how dirty, places. Wear them only after sanitizing and washing the clothes.


When paying

– Haggle! Haggle! Haggle! If your total bill is 235php, ask if it could be 200. If the clerk doesn’t agree, ask if it could be priced for 210php. Meet halfway with the clerk. Haggling is a really great skill. It may not be as effective when you start doing it but after a few practice, you’ll surely get the hang of it.

– Smile and be courteous. Remember that they have the authority to lower and increase prices. 

– Make friends with the branch crew. If you’re going to be a frequent customer of that branch, it’s gonna be advantageous if you make friends with the crew. You can ask them to keep pieces for you that you still wont buy. You can ask them to look out for clothing that you might be interested in buying. And ultimately may be able to give you special discounts or bundle promos. Be friendly!

– Ask for an environmental friendly yet easy to use container to put your bought clothes at. Make sure you get them all home with you.


After Thrifting


Time to sanitize

– Remember : Do not mix your newly bought ukay-ukay finds with your dirty laundry.

– What I do is that I make sure to soak my finds with boiling/heated water. 

– Boil/heat a large enough amount of water and soak your finds.

– Then proceed with the proper way of washing your clothes.

– You can opt to boil/heat them two times to really clean them

– Dry and Iron


Now you’re ready to wear them.

Wasn’t that easy? Now Ukay-ukay doesn’t look that foreign and hard for you. After reading these tips I hope your love for ukay ukay would rekindle. 

Always remember – Style does not and will never depend on the price, branded or how brand new your clothes are. It’s all about identity and diversity. 

Now looking your best is as easy as a-b-c.

What did you think about these tips? Do you like Ukay-ukay? Did you think this post was helpful? Share it with me! Comments/rants/questions are welcomed below at the comments section. 
Let’s talk? Much love! – Chardy


13 Replies to “Ukay-Ukay Top Tips – Things you should remember when Thrift shopping”

  1. I love thrift shops. I usually don’t go looking for clothes, but for dvds :). I love to find some movies I haven’t seen yet, or am looking for. Thrift shops often have some nice ones. I think it’s a great hobby you have. And good tips!

  2. I’m a HUGE fan of ukay-ukay. I like it more than shopping at Divisoria or Greenhills. You have better chances of finding branded clothes just between the racks. Plus you’re almost sure wala kang katulad sa damit. Ang puhunan lang ay oras para maghunting. Haha.

  3. You can even buy branded clothes in thrift shops! Hahaha. Though I haven’t tried in Manila but I’ve tried in Baguio where I lost my phone. How unfortunate. I got new pre-loved clothes but lost something along the way. Oh well. It’s really worth the time and money going to these places. Just bring a lot of patience and street smart skills. πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Chardy, I totally agree with you on this: ” Style does not and will never depend on the price, branded or how brand new your clothes are. It’s all about identity and diversity. ” Coming from the “wagwagan” (ukay-ukay) capital in the Philippines, I totally agree with what you wrote everything here. Most of my stuffs came from ukay-ukay too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *