Third Sister Thrift is a personal thrift styling service based in Texas that offers customized wardrobe boxes and also holds regular virtual "Thrift With Me" events.
My Subscription Addiction recently chatted with founder Mercy Call about what inspired her to start her business, how she made it all happen, and what the behind-the-scenes process of thrift styling for women looks like.
A Dream Turned Reality
When Mercy Call first began sharing her thrift store hauls on her personal Instagram page, her friends would comment, saying "How are you so good at thrifting?" and "I wish I could pay you to shop for me!"
She had no idea that just a couple months later, this would be her reality with her business, Third Sister Thrift. Now, Call helps women all over the country find joy in getting dressed again through curating high-quality, sustainable, and affordable clothing boxes.
Call first gauged interest in February 2021, eager to see if she could actually turn thrifting for other people into a business. When she began taking clients, she expected to style her way through a dozen friends or so and then run out, but instead found Thrift Sister Thrift has resonated with hundreds of women.
"Most women reach a point where they stop buying clothes that make them happy," Call recently told My Subscription Addiction.
Career transitions, motherhood and any number of other factors can often contribute to women having wardrobes that just get them by. Some want help because they struggle with their personal style, while others no longer have time to sort through massive thrift store inventory, or don't feel comfortable doing so since the pandemic.
A lot of Third Sister Thrift clients are mothers who have long since settled on buying things just because they are functional for life with kids. "I want to help women get back into the joy of buying clothes that make you happy. And, it can be affordable for moms who don't have a huge budget to receive clothes that make them feel good about themselves. Moms deserve that," Call explained.
The Magic of Thrifting
Call's origin story is simple. She has nine siblings and grew up thrift shopping with her mother out of necessity.
She still loves the process. "There is something so transcendent about finding an item at a thrift store that feels like it exists in the world just for you. And how many people have simply flipped past it before? Here it is, waiting for you, and it belongs in your home and in your heart," she said.
While it can be challenging to thrift shop for very specific items because inventory and styles are never guaranteed, but it's pure magic when she's able to.
Reflecting on styling a recent client, Call remembered finding a pair of vintage, embroidered jeans straight out of the '70s that could not have been more perfect for her client. "Finding those jeans was one of those moments, because no one else in the world but me could have found these jeans for her," she explained.
Another reason to keep on thrifting? Sustainability.
"The most sustainable clothes are the ones that already exist!" Call said. "These clothes are already out there — it's like panning for gold. It's there, it's valuable, but it's work to get to it and not everybody has the tools and time to do that."
What Makes Third Sister Thrift Different
Third Sister Thrift's priority is offering items that are truly well-made and intentionally sourced for each specific client at an affordable price. Call told us she's tried styling services in the past, but even after she set her preferences to receive the lowest-priced items possible, she was often sent items that were out of her budget.
"I wanted cheap clothes that didn't feel cheaply made. With thrifting, I can do affordable items that are high quality, name brand, new-with-tags or like-new condition," she told us.
While browsing racks, Call's on the lookout for brands like Banana Republic, Madewell, J Crew, Anthropologie, Free People, LOFT, Universal Thread and Lucky Brand, among others. She's also always on the hunt for vintage pieces.
Call also knows that she can offer a very intimately customized experience for her clients. When shopping for someone, she keeps their dialogue open, asking things like "do you have a denim vest already?" or "I found two similar things in different patterns — which do you like best?"
Even though her wardrobe boxes are a surprise, her clients are involved in the selection process.
How It Works
Once clients submit their style and preferences questionnaire, they receive their wardrobe boxes within two weeks.
The first thing Call does is go to her archive to see if she already owns something that'll fit a client's style. Next, she'll head to thrift stores to find the rest of the items to fill out the box. She typically buys extras and then spends time narrowing them down until the curation feels just right, and items she doesn't choose get added back into her dedicated client closet.
Often Call will record an Instagram video sharing what items she picked for someone and why. Then, it's time for the the final steps: Washing, air drying, packaging, and shipping.
So how long does it take? Call told us she spends about six to 10 hours a week thrift shopping. Additionally, she spends about two hours a day curating her finds, looking at clients' style profiles and Pinterest inspiration boards and planning her next shopping trip.
With the changing seasons comes demand for seasonally curated boxes. They contain five to seven items that can be mixed and matched together (a typical box might contain a dress, a pair of pants, three tops, and a skirt), Prices start at $115 for the whole wardrobe box and styling service ($50 styling fee and $65 in products). Depending on budget, clients can spend more. Some have worked with Call to build a full Third Sister Thrift capsule wardrobe.
The Third Sister Thrift waitlist is currently full, but new spots will be opening up again in the fall. In the meantime, everyone is invited to participate in the weekly "Thrift With Me" virtual events on Third Sister Thrift's Instagram page.
Thrift With Me
Call knew the main focus of her business was going to be the styling process, but the idea for Thrift With Me events came about as she shopped for her wardrobe box clients. Twice each month, on Third Sister Thrift's Instagram stories, you can shop along and claim brand-name items Call finds while out shopping. She checks each item to make sure it has no stains or holes, and posts details like the "actual fit" of each item (meaning she's armed with measuring tape).
One event per month is in-store and real-time as she shops; the other is a VIP sale of items currently in her client closet.
During Thrift With Me events, Call answers questions for shoppers via direct messages like garment measurements, pattern details, and things like "is this a true red or more like an orangey-red?" When the event ends, she takes home your claimed items (in the case of in-store events), washes and air-dries everything for you, and then ships them (or, if you snag only 1-2 items, you can have your items held until your next Thrift With Me to combine shipping).
Packaging and presentation is a big deal to Call, who explained: "[When you get your packages] I want every item to be a surprise; I want it to feel luxe and expensive and personal."
What if you snag an item during Thrift With Me that turns out not to be quite right? Call says, "I love that my prices are good enough that, if this happens, I really want you to give it to someone: a sibling, sister, a mom at church, a women’s shelter, pregnancy center ... there's so many needs and if that top isn’t perfect for you, give it to someone that needs it!"
About Third Sister Thrift
- Wardrobe Boxes cost $115 minimum for 5-7 items, which includes the $50 styling fee (you can pay more if you're looking for more items or a full Capsule Wardrobe box)
- Thrift With Me event items are priced per item type, plus calculated shipping: $10 for tops, shorts, rompers, and skirts; $15 for pants, shoes, dresses, and sweaters; jackets for $20
The Products: Quality, brand name, new/like new condition thrifted clothing curated according to your specific style preferences.
Ships to: The U.S.