Last Monday afternoon, I got out of the office and went thrift shopping with local fashion blogger Dina Younis.

We went to two local Goodwill Industries stores so she could show me how she likes to shop for bargains.

I’m no stranger to thrift shops or bargain-hunting. Like Younis, I love the thrill of the hunt and finding a good deal. I’ve often gone to local thrift stores or secondhand stores to find some “new” outfits for myself, in addition to shopping regular stores.

In fact, when I first met Younis on a bus of young professionals from Akron visiting Detroit last fall, she and Lauren Ward, owner of Noto Boutique in downtown Akron, both leaned over to introduce themselves and told me they liked my cute burnt orange poncho sweater. Not knowing either of their fashion backgrounds, I proudly told them I had bought it at a secondhand store.

It used to be that people were embarrassed to admit they bought something at a thrift shop, perhaps thinking others might think they can’t afford clothes at a regular store.

But that’s not the case anymore, said Younis. Though she’s been blogging about thrifting for six years, she’s noticed interest has blown up in the last two years.

“I think people became much smarter shoppers. We want the newest things. People realized you can do it in a much more affordable way,” she said.

“We all love the feeling of a deal,” she said.

I liken it to what I’ve noticed among friends and consumers since the 2008 recession. We used to be embarrassed to talk about our “tight budgets” or saying that we couldn’t go out to eat with friends because we’re saving money or couldn’t afford it. But people now are OK with saying that.

The deal’s the thing

By day, Younis is a communications manager for the Akron-based philanthropic GAR Foundation.

She most often shops at thrift or secondhand stores, but sometimes will go to a regular store and look through the clearance or sale racks if she can’t find it first at a thrift store (she usually tries three times). She also said she doesn’t have a problem with investing in new staples, like winter boots.

But otherwise, Younis said she can find what she wants at thrift stores, including new items with tags.

And she loves telling others about her deals.

“It’s fun. It’s a conversation starter. I’m the type of person who loves to tell people about my great deals. If you get a good deal, why not tell people?” A popular question she gets is whether she feels guilty shopping at thrift stores and taking clothes away from people who really need them.

She doesn’t feel guilty, nor does she need to. Younis often shops at Goodwill Industries stores, and does some consulting for the stores. According to Goodwill Industries of Akron, 87 cents from every dollar spent at a Goodwill store funds its mission to support programs in the community, such as job training.

“Places like Goodwill rely on shoppers as much as they do on donations,” she said. “It’s about ‘Why spend full price when you don’t have to?’?”

Thrifter’s beginnings

Younis has been writing her fashion and style blog, www.dinasdays.com, for six years. It has 4,000 average visitors a month and she has 1,800 followers on Instagram, 900 on Twitter and 550 on Facebook.

She was born in Kent and lived in Akron until she was 7. Then, her family (which is of Palestinian descent) moved to Jordan. They moved back to the area when Younis was 14, and she graduated from Copley High School in 2003. She went on to graduate from the University of Akron in 2008.

She began thrifting in Jordan at age 13 with her 13 dinars a month (about $15 U.S. dollars at the time).

Her parents weren’t thrifters, and thrifting also wasn’t big in Jordan. But being one of three children, Younis said she realized she could get some good stuff. Her first finds were at a warehouse called American Closeouts, which had big bins of clothing she’d dig through. She remembers finding a new pair of Converse Chuck Taylors for 10 dinars.

Ladies’ afternoon out

Getting back to that shopping trip ...

We originally were going to try to replicate some celebrity styles we had seen on the Internet, but instead decided given our time frame, to use some celebrity styles and Pinterest ideas to find two outfits for me — one casual and one work outfit.

We quickly homed in on some cute coral-colored spring pants at the Goodwill store on Waterloo Road. They were the “special color on sale for 50 percent off” so were only $2.50. Younis looked up some images online to find some ideas to pair with the bright pants and said stripes might be good. While looking through racks, I found a blue and white striped shirt that we decided would pair nicely for $2.59 (I used a 20 percent coupon that donors get when dropping off clothes. The special 50 percent color of the week does not get additional discounts).

Next, we walked over by the dresses. A clerk happened to put a beige A-line sleeveless dress back on the rack right in front of me. It was my size and really cute. (So I confess, this one landed right in front of me.) Younis said it was perfect for work. Price: $3.98 since I got a total of 35 percent off with my 20 percent discount plus a special store weekly manager’s special).

We walked over by the shoe area and found some brand new Target-brand Mossimo peep-toe booties with a stacked heel for $7.99 (new items don’t get discounts). They’d look great with my spring coral/striped outfit, Younis said.

We finished over by the dressing rooms and the blazers by picking out a jean jacket to put on top of my striped shirt/coral pants ($4.80 with the discount) and a black Rue 21 blazer to put on top of my dress, also for $4.80.

I had a few other things I tried, but didn’t like, and Younis was good about telling me “we can find something cuter” or “if you have something similar at home, don’t get it.”

She walked over to the jewelry counter to pick out two necklaces — a used yellow chunky necklace for $2.40 with the discount and a new gold and pearl long necklace for $4.99 to complete my outfits.

Putting it all together

My haul at the Waterloo store cost $36.35 — and that’s almost for two whole outfits from head to toe. I even decided that I’d go with the flow and wear my “new” dress and black jacket with some black boots I already owned to an interview a few days later with new FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones. When I arrived in my outfit, which cost $13.77 (not including my pre-owned shoes or tights), Beacon Journal photographer Phil Masturzo, who had photographed Younis and me on Monday, said “nice outfit” with a laugh.

At the Waterloo store, Younis paid $9.37 for two pairs of shoes and a dress.

We then went to the Goodwill store in Jackson Township, which is part of a different region for Goodwill and has slightly different pricing. The store has one color price tag that is 50 percent off and one color that is $1.50, as well as regular thrift prices for other items.

When we got to that store, I “turned off” my mind to shopping since I knew I had already gotten two outfits and decided it might be easier if I helped Younis look for something instead.

Younis said even though thrift-store prices are cheap, it’s a good idea to set a budget for yourself so you don’t go overboard. She also often looks for staples or tries to think of three different ways she can wear something before buying it.

We looked around a bit to find some clothes for an upcoming fashion show Younis is putting outfits together for, but didn’t find anything. But of course, I threw one more question at Younis and asked her to help me find a different top to go with a new black and white floral skirt I was wearing. I had worn a black sweater and a red scarf, but knew it may be a little boring. We tried a few different things and settled on a hot pink Ann Taylor Loft cardigan that I could wear with an existing black T-shirt for $5. Younis bought a striped sheer dress shirt for $2.50 (half off).

Mission accomplished.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter.