We have always donated items to second hand stores, but it’s only in the last few years that I have become a thrifter. Once you start, and score your first “find”, it is hard to not keep going back! There is so much goodness lurking around every corner if you know what to look for and know what you are doing. In this economy, and in the age of Pinterest and DIY blogs, more and more people are flooding second hand stores (every blog I like to read has a blogger behind it that likes to shop at flea markets, on Craigslist, at thrift stores, etc). People have discovered that with a little patience and very little money (and a little spray paint), you can transform almost anything. That is the thrill of it. No one else will have what you just bought. I know it’s not for everyone, but these are my tips/tricks/thoughts on thrifting & buying second hand…
1. Don’t Just Buy Because It’s Inexpensive. Almost every item at a thrift store is relatively inexpensive so you will be tempted to throw everything in your cart. Stop. Don’t do this. Be selective about what you purchase. Do you have a spot in your house for it or are you just buying it because it’s a great deal? I think this goes for shopping at any venue!
2. If you are on the fence about something, especially a piece of furniture, throw it in your cart or pull off the ticket. You can always put it back, but if you don’t pick it up in that second, someone will be right behind ready to snatch it up. Make good decisions about what you really need/want. You would be surprised how many people are in a thrift store looking for exactly what you are (especially furniture pieces).
$10 – twin headboard I painted pink for Kate’s room
3. Go often if you have the time. Second hand store shelves (especially really busy ones like Goodwill and Salavation Army) will look different from one hour to the next. It’s all about timing and all about the hunt. You will find which stores you like best. I had really great thrift stores in San Antonio, and I am kind of ho hum about those in my area in KC. You are more likely to find great stuff in larger cities, in older parts of town, so expand your thrifting radius!
Most of the books on my bookshelves were purchased at thrift stores for less than .50 each. The gold frame artwork ($5) and moss balls ($5) you see on the left are also thrift store purchases!
4. You must be able to walk away with nothing and not be discouraged. More often than not, I walk out of a thrift store with nothing in my hands. I have a good eye and have learned over time what to look for. This goes back to my point in #1. Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s great! You don’t want to wind up with a bunch of junk you will never use!
5. Let’s face it, 85% of items you will walk by will be junk. Look for interesting pieces. Look for books. Look for items that can be put on a shelf or displayed in your home (don’t forget you can turn ugly into chic with a little spray paint!). Look for planters and baskets. Look for frames and interesting artwork. Look for cool lamps. Look for great dishes. Look for furniture pieces that can be transformed. Toys/games/puzzles/ are also great finds (I have bought two razor scooters for less than $5 at second hand stores).
6. Nothing could be more true here than “One Man’s Trash…”. I look at thrift stores as a win/win. I am able to donate my items and search and pay for “new to me” items. They create jobs for people, they support local churches/missions/non-profits. And, what a better way to be “green”. If it’s not your thing, I totally get it. You should just try one time, and see if you can find anything good (even something small)!!!
I love a pulled together, eclectic look. I also have an abnormal urge to change things up in my home. Often. I’m crazy like that. I’m talking moving things around weekly. Buying inexpensive, quirky, and interesting pieces allow for me to change things up without feeling bad, because I didn’t spend a lot. I think finding little pieces, or large furniture pieces, from thrift stores can bring character to a home. When your home is filled with items from all different places and price points, it creates a collected, warm, and comfortable space filled with things you love.
Don’t forget to scope out your local Habitat for Humanity Restore, yard sales, Craigslist, antique stores, and vintage shops to find interesting and eclectic pieces. No matter how much money we make, how “new” our house is, or if I won the lottery tomorrow, I will always be interested in scoring a great “find”. It’s who I am. I don’t apologize for it. I just think everyone else paid too much!! :)
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