tips and tricks fo thrifty thrifting

An integral part of moving is getting rid of stuff.  Extra books, those pants you think will fit someday but haven’t in five years so you might as well finally donate them, random dishes, hangers…on and on the list goes.  While we did a fair amount of clothing purging, we also forsook furniture.  We didn’t have a lot, but now we have nothing again.  No sofa, bed, kitchen table, desk, nothing.  Saying as how we’re living with family, this isn’t immediately problematic, but we plan on Mr. F getting a job and moving out on our own again.  Because we’re going to eventually need furniture, I’ve begun a hunt for pieces to fill our future home.  No urgency, no desperate last minute frenzy, just a steady search.

The area we’re living in now is stuffed to capacity with antique stores and thrift shops, a veritable honey hole for the furnitureless. Cyprus had none.  Point to America!!  I started rounding some of the local shops and on Saturday I struck gold!  I picked up these two wood chairs for a grand total of $35. Score!  I can’t wait to put the swivel chair in my future studio and get to work!  It needs a bit of refinishing, I’m thinking of a rough mahogany stain.  The other chair is tiny, perfect for a child. I’m hoping we’ll have a little one to put on it sometime soon.

Thrifting can be a really great way to get timeless pieces that will last a lifetime for a sweet deal if you’re willing to put the work into it.  Thrifting, my friends, is not for the faint of heart but definitely worth the effort.  If you’re new to thrifting or haven’t been able to strike gold yet, here are a few tricks I use to find the perfect item.

1. Be patient.   Thrifting is a tedious process. It can smell awful, stuff can be piled everywhere.  It’s not like shopping at Nordstrom.  You can’t just walk into a store and expect to find something.  You have to look at everything.  Similarly, you can look at everything and still not find anything.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Be patient and wait for that special piece.

2. Be willing to walk away.  I once found this basket that I absolutely loved and wasn’t willing to pay what it was listed at.  I came back a few weeks later and the basket was still there, at nearly half the price originally listed.  And a rug for $20.  Totally worth walking away the first time and finding a better deal later.

3. Ask locals where they go.  I found my new chairs thanks to the suggestion of a little old Scottish woman working at a thrift shop.  I told her we were looking for furniture and she told me about a sale at the local Catholic church.  Done and done.  Sometimes the best spot is an annual sale or even neighborhood garage sales.  Be sure to ask about the best places for household items, clothes, and even children’s things.  Different shops have different niches.

4.  Barter.  Never, ever pay full price.  Haggle away, but within reason.  If a hutch is listed at $300 it’s probably not going to go for $50.  Just sayin’…

5. Bring small bills.  My mom taught me this while garage sale-ing.  It’s very rude to haggle the price down to $5 and then hand someone a $20 note.  Also, bring cash.  I’m bad at this but it makes SUCH a difference.  Most little shops will offer you a hefty discount if you pay in cash.

6.  Try multiple places.  After you’ve asked everyone in town where to go, try out all the locations and don’t be afraid to just try something new.  Some of my favorite shops are scattered across the country, discovered on various road trips.  If a shop catches your eye, pop in!   You never know what you’ll find!

7. Go back and go often.  Small shops change their inventory frequently and there’s usually only one of something in stock.  If you’re on the hunt for something specific, add a secondhand shop to your errand route as a fun treat to make sure you don’t miss anything.

8. Ask about daily deals.  Church thrift shops and places like Goodwill tend to offer discounts depending on tag color or item.  For example, Mondays all shirts with pink tags are $1.  Really great way to snag some serious bargains.

9. Bring a friend.  Multiple sets of eyes are often very helpful, especially when thrifting.  I’ll go with Sista Bear and she’ll find the coolest pieces of jewelry while I hunt down kitchen linens.

and lastly…
9. Buy what makes you happy.  This is vital people!  Don’t buy something just because you need a table or because it’s only $2.  Buy something because you like it.  If you are true to your taste, you can find some real deals and come home with some wonderfully eclectic pieces for your home.