Yes, thrifting can be dirty, and it can also be a secret.
Thrift stores had so much stigma when I was young, even when I became older...you didn't talk about it. When Moo would wear the cutest outfit and I would get asked where did you get it? If I didn't really know the person, I would say "hmmmm...I forgot?!" Knowing that I got it at that dirty little store from the questionable side of town. You know the place that reeks of cigarette smoke from the lady sneaking a smoke in the back room. Its cramped and dark. Only cash. And some things I wouldn't even touch. But in the middle of it I would find a snazzy little jean jacket by Guess. A must have for my fashion forward toddler. So I would do my shopping, go home with the bag tied shut, dump it in the washer with fabric softener...and BAM! Out would come a perfect non-stinking jean jacket, that other moms would envy...bwahahaha. Yes, I can be that devious with my finds.
I think my best find there was my yellow 2 qt cast iron Le Creuset pot. Paid $4.99, William and Sonoma sale price, $165. I love that thing, use it almost every single day. The perfect pot. Other thrifters act as if that kind of find happens all the time...it doesn't. I have crept into that store, and have crept out empty handed. Too many times to count. But I keep going back..why...because Le Creuset tells me too.