7 Tips For Surviving An Ukay-Ukay Shopping Experience

If you're seriously on the prowl for fashion steals, then "U.K." is the best place to look. Find out how to score even cheaper bargains.

Proper hygiene aside, many find thrift shopping in the US so fab! However, when it comes to sorting through mounds of ukay-ukay in the streets of Manila, you’d rather be caught dead!

Like a zit waiting to be popped, we seem to have an itching desire to find treasure amongst the so-called trash of others (whether we admit it or not). Just recently we dished some advice on bargain hunting. This time, though, we're taking hunting to another level! As any shopping trip is like going to battle (for a bargain), here are some survival tips on how to make your ukay experience a cheap thrill (pun intended)!

1. Do Your Research.

Since ukay shopping has already become another socially-accepted haven for bargain hunters, sellers have wised up by learning the 101s of designer labels and elevating prices to almost ridiculous amounts for generic items. C’mon, P500 for a used skirt?? Just go to a real tiangge and you could probably find a new one that's a lot cheaper. I used to get items from Baguio for P70 at the most four years ago. Now, what used to be P50 has gone up to P350-P500. So instead of going to the more popular sites like Baguio, Cubao, and Evangelista St., try venturing into untapped locations you may find while driving around the city.

2. Look Pathetic--REALLY.

This is not the time to wear your designer duds that scream, “Hello, I have money to spend!" Skip the makeup and avoid looking too prepped up and “sheltered." The objective is to look like you are unfazed by the whole thrift shopping experience. When sellers see your eagerness to find bargain items, they know they can jack up prices on you and they won’t budge when you ask for a bigger discount.

3. Hands-Free.

We all like to be good with our hands, don’t we? Well, especially in times like these. Rummaging through racks or worse, piles of clothes can be exciting but a hassle if you’re carrying a shoulder bag. Opt for a messenger-type of bag instead, so you can have both hands free, hence double the fun!

4. Skirt The Situation.

Unless you’re in the US or Europe, most ukay stores don’t have decent dressing rooms. So be YOUR OWN dressing room! Wear comfy clothing like a long lounge-y dress, skirt, and sandals to fit bottoms underneath it easily. It may not be the most convenient way to fit items, compared to a dressing room, but we never said this was the mall, did we?

5. Carry Small Bills.

Sure you arrive looking broke, bored, and bummed, like you lack any sense of style or clothes to fill your so-called empty wardrobe. But how can you seal the deal when you pay with big bills–and expect change? Once you give your game plan away by paying with bigger bills, if you go back or shop for more, sellers will remember you as "the one who really can afford!"

6. Show No Emotion.

Women express all their emotions from top to toe. However, the moment you show an ounce of excitement over a certain item, say, a designer item priced at a mega steal, there’s almost no way you can get an additional discount on one or more items. Yes, it’s definitely hard to contain the excitement, but it’s a mind game, people! We highly suggest you hold in that wave of euphoria until Elvis has left the building.

7. That’s What Friends Are For.

If you feel a specific ukay store carries items that suit your taste, feel free to make friends with the tinderas so they can update you when the next batch of hand-me-downs arrive. That way, you can get first dibs!


The next time you finally decide to embark on the ukay experience, keep these tips handy and you just might find yourself digging for more! Are you an ukay expert? Share with us your own tips!

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