Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thrifting 101

After sharing my awesome thrifting score of a tiered wire basket, one of my sweet readers {hi Maggie!} suggested I do a post on thrifting/junking. What a great idea! I decided that for now I'll just cover thrifting, because I feel like junking, flea markets, antique malls and estate sales are all different animals. But if you find today's post helpful let me know and I'll cover those areas as well!

{numbered canister set: thrifted for $4. Not old, but totally awesome!}

Many of you reading this might be thrifting experts, and if so, feel free to share your advice in the comments! I'm sure you've thought about things I haven't! And if you're a thrifting novice, I hope this helps spark your interest in what can be a fun, cheap way to find vintage goods. So here are my helpful thrifting hints...

{large white urn: thrifted for $9}

1. Be Brave! Be Adventurous!
This was a hard one for me. I've always shopped at malls and nice shopping centers, so the idea of going to a sort of "out of the way" location to thrift was difficult for me at first. But often times, at least in my area, thrift stores aren't located in the greatest part of town. And sometimes the thrift stores themselves are just plain gross. This isn't always the case. The Goodwills in our city are generally very clean, well-lit and well organized. But my thrift store of choice is, well, disgusting. We're talking it smells bad, merchandise is dirty and piled everywhere, the people in it are often not terribly clean themselves, etc. I try not to wear anything nice there because I come out smelling like the place {gross}. But I swear that store has the best stuff! I find probably 50% of the goods I sell on etsy in that shop (there, now you know my little secret). It definitely has a lot of older pieces, where I've found our Goodwills tend to have new items. If you're in the market for vintage/antiques...don't be afraid to get a little dirty, a little stinky, and go a little out of the way. It's worth it!

{distressed shelf: thrifted for $7}

2. Know What You're Looking For
I have a running list in my head of the general types of items I'm looking for. I know I {probably} won't find something incredibly rare and valuable in a thrift store, though that does occasionally happen. But I do know I'll find my favorite pieces: ironstone, white pitchers, tarnished silver, antique books and whitework linens. These are my staple pieces, and what I'm always on the lookout for. Your list may be different, but the best way to overcome the visual overload in a thrift store is to know what you're going for. I can look at a pile of junk and spot a white creamer tucked in the back because I've trained myself to do so. With a little practice, you can too!

{tarnished silver cream and sugar, forks and ironstone pitcher, all thrifted}

3. Know the Value of Things
Once you know what you're looking for, you'll also probably know what's a good price and what's not. For example I paid $1.50 and $2.50 for these ironstone pitchers {below}. But I could sell them for $20 to $50. So do your homework, browse eBay and etsy, and get to know the going rate for your favorite items. Then you won't overpay, and best of all, when you get a score you'll know just how great of a score it is! {cough cough... 28 cents for a tiered wire stand!}

{ironstone pitchers: thrifted for $4}

This also means knowing brands and manufacturers. I don't thrift for clothing, but if you do then obviously you'd want to be on the lookout for designer merchandise. The same goes for home items. I always turn dishes over to see the manufacturer. And my heart always skips a beat when I see certain markings {well hello, Meakin ironstone!} But I've had to learn what brands are valuable and which aren't. It's all part of the hunt!

{chippy white farmhouse stool: thrifted for $5.50}

4. Check for Quality
I recently found this chippy white stool at my favorite thrift shop. I loved the distressed paint, but it was a little wobbly. I turned it over to see if it could be repaired easily, and sure enough, all it needed was tightened screws. Check dishes and housewares for chips, cracks and defects. Often I don't mind a few chips on antique dish ware, but there are some things you don't want if they are broken.

{antique silver napkin rings: $1 each, set of white work linens: $1, antique book: $1}

5. Thrift Often
My favorite {stinky} thrift store happens to be on the way home from work, so I stop in there 2 - 4 times a week. Make thrifting a habit, and you'll eventually find what you're looking for, and get the cream of the crop when new merchandise is put out. Plus, we all love the thrill of the hunt, so hunt often!

{thrifted silver plate tray}

What are your thrifting hints and tips? I'd love to hear your best advice...and your best scores!

{live beautifully}

Linking to Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia and Farmhouse Fridays at Laurie Anna's


  1. Love this..so much fun! Great thrify finds too!

  2. Great tips. I love hunting for great finds. I had luck last weekend. It's always so exciting.

  3. Thrifting is my favorite thing to do. Although I have cut way back on what I purchase. Simply because I am not a etsy person or a dealer, sometimes I set up in the flea market, about once or twice a year.
    So what I buy is generally for my use. So things can start to get cluttered. My word for this year is purge, so I will choose carefully when thrifting.

  4. You've found some amazing things...and your thrifting tips are perfect!

  5. Sweet finds. The thrift stores in my area aren't that awesome unless you're looking for clothing and books. Still I browse carefully for that once every blue moon find. I may just need to go a little further out of the area.


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