Your Ultimate Guide to Thrift-Shopping in Metro Manila

There’s more to ukay-ukay than just knowing where to find them. To master the art of thrift-shopping, one has to know where it is, what they sell, when the sales periods happen, and how to spend wisely. Check these tips and tricks out to make the most of your thrift-shopping experience.

The Where and What

First off, let’s go over the basics. The best ukay-ukays in the city usually don’t have a name you can search in Google, so it’s best to go to the specific areas and wade through the numerous thrift shops around. Here are a few sure-fire spots:

1. Libertad

Once you step down from the LRT 1 at Libertad, you’ll be greeted with the all-out grittiness of Manila, but walk a little further down the road, and there’s a line of ukay shops on your left and right. 

Pro-tip: Aspulan, the ukay closest to Security Bank has a great selection of clothes to make a statement, from windbreakers and gowns to boots and ponchos.
 

2. Makati Cinema Square

This treasure of a mall is perfect for all your practical and recreational needs. There’s a grocery, delicious restaurants, even bowling and billiards halls, and best of all, thrift shops all around. This place is perfect if you want to avoid the heat and pollution from ukays along the road. 

Pro-tip: Take the entrance nearest Sinangag Express, and the ukay to the right has the best selection of all kinds of pants, including mom jeans, joggers, jeans, and slacks. Check out the ukays in the basement just to be overwhelmed with the number of clothing and accessories you can buy.
 

3. Quiapo

For those up for a challenge, try out the thrift shops in the overcrowded and tiring land of Quiapo. Although it can cause some stress, the ukays here have the cheapest and coolest finds. Just make sure you’re ready to face the grit and grind of the city.

Pro-tip: The ukays around Hidalgo Street are always cheap, and worth it if you’re looking for some casual clothes. However, for an overwhelming selection of clothes, check out the ukay at Carriedo Street across the SM Outlet store, and be ready for an all-out splurge.


4. Zapote, Las Piñas

For the Southies, great and affordable thrift-shops can be found along Alabang-Zapote road, which is basically a less stressful environment than Libertad and Quiapo. Enjoy the chain of ukays by easily moving from one store to another.

Pro-tip: If you’re looking for an ukay splurge, visit the building near the overpass and it’s filled to the brim with vintage-looking clothes, shoes, and bags that range from 5 pesos to 400 pesos, all priced right and affordably.
 

The When

The best ukay experience is one that has you spending less but buying more. All thrift-shops have a sale period after a month or two to get rid of the remaining clothes to make space for the upcoming new ones. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning for your ukay adventure.

1. Hangers have meaning. As funny as that may sound, what hangers the ukay is using when you visit is a sign for its prices. The thick hangers usually mean the clothes are new and are more expensive. The green hangers signify the usual ukay price, the ones priced 3 for 100 pesos for shirts and blouses, 150 to 300 pesos for pants, jackets, dresses, and others. Once you see the thin hangers, that usually means the ukay is on sale, and you’ve got your hit of 4 for 100 pesos finds.

2. If you don’t see a price board on top of the racks, that means the prices are still expensive. You’ll have to ask the person in charge of the price and be prepared for a price on the expensive side. It’s why they don’t put the price boards yet, so customers won’t be discouraged as soon as they see the price.

3. More often than not, thrift-shops go on sale every other month around the last two weeks. Next time you visit an ukay take note of what hangers they’re using to know if the clothes are new or not, then wait and come back in time for their sale. 

4. If you have money to spend, the best finds come when everything’s new. Be on the lookout for the new arrivals. These are usually branded and imported clothes and people are sure to spend on these.
 

The How

The best trick to master thrift-shopping is asking for a discount or “tawad.” Remember that a major point of shopping at an ukay is to save, and you make the most out of your ukay experience once you score the cheapest price possible for a great set of clothes. Take note of these tips:

1. Be nice. Talk to salespeople, and don’t give them a hard time cleaning up after you try out some clothes in the fitting room. Make sure you fix the clothes on the racks after going through them and don’t leave clothes you won’t buy lying around.

2. Always give it a shot. There’s no harm in asking for a little discount when you reach the counter. This works best if the prices require change. For example, if your total price is 120 pesos, ask if it could be lowered to 100 pesos. It may be small, but it can still be added to your savings.

3. Asking for discount usually works when you’ve bought more than five things. 

4. Don’t force it. If the salesperson is uninterested or has a definitive reason for why the price can’t go lower, respect this and try again next time.
 

The Why

We all go thrift-shopping for that fun, exciting experience of finding great pieces for OOTDs. However, ukays are a great way to reduce fabric waste as old clothes can be reused and recycled. It also gives these small chains more income and livelihood. The presence of ukay-ukays promotes sustainability for textiles and garments while providing us with affordable choices for clothes that challenge our creativity and sense of fashion.

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