My favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to go to garage sales and thrift stores. I love the idea of taking something vintage and making it into something new. Sometimes shopping like this gets me into trouble, since I just had to have my own garage sale to de-stash and make room for new stuff!
My son Harrison was my latest partner in crime and spent a day a few weeks ago going with me to garage sales/thrift stores.
I found this cool owl at a garage sale for a quarter. I am really getting into collecting owl stuff lately. Owls do represent wisdom and so maybe I am hoping to gain some life wisdom.
My son has been a little obsessed with elves. There is this YouTube channel where a family has a creative interaction with their toy elves. The mom is the one that makes it seem magical for her kids and when they are grown, I am sure they will have good memories of these elf stories. So Harrison has been wanting to find the vintage type elves. We scored two for a total of $3 at a garage sale! They still had their old made in Japan stickers, too.
The chubby one we found at the thrift store for 48 cents!
There are three local thrift stores we really love. One sells huge bags of mixed toys for $1.99. That one also gets new clothes from Target or the Limited with the tags still on them. I have found beautiful vintage fabric there and ended up using it to re-cover these chairs:
Another has great clothes, and accessories, along with nice decor. They were having a .99 cents sale so it was a happy day! Got this vintage-looking beauty mirror.
And I got some frames/mirror for .25 that I plan to paint.
And the third one has a good selection of books, toys, and craft/office supplies. Harrison was happy he found a plush Gremlin doll. I found a vintage pink plush bear.
So we go to all three looking for different things. I try to avoid stuff I know I will never make use of. For example, I love love love records. I have a record collection, but my old record player broke and I have not been able to find a suitable replacement--yet. So I stay away from record albums.
I also have TOO many books (can you have too many??). My home office is filled with large, thick wooden bookshelves filled with books. I try to avoid books at thrift stores *most* of the time because I know I buy a ton every year at the library book sale (every February in OKC).
I don't buy dishes because I am paranoid about what is in the paint, where they have come from, where they were made (I only buy food ware products made in the USA which usually limits me to Fiestaware), etc. And I don't buy undergarments, socks, beauty products like waxing kits, etc. Oh, and older computer products like floppy disks. All of this is just by personal choice. I know some people that can do great things or find great scores by not limiting certain items. And that is great. We are all different, and that is great!
I want to share some thrift store tips:
*See if they have certain sale days. 99 cents sales are the best! Some offer discounts for teachers, students or military if you show your ID. Others have a customer appreciation card or program. One has a program where I sign in at the register kiosk with my phone number each time I go in. Then they send me texts for specials, but also coupons like $5 off!! I love it!
*Take a partner! If you take someone with you, it is like having two sets of eyes on everything. The other person may find something awesome you were looking for and your eyes missed. My husband and son are both good at finding vintage toys that they can re-sale on ebay or keep for their own collections. They scored a He-Man figure from the 80s still mint in the package for a quarter at a storage sale! Now it sits in my son's room on his shelf of collectibles.
*Educate yourself. Look online at Craigslist or Ebay and get familiar with the good, the bad, and the ugly of vintage or retro products. They also have books at the library on collector's items. This helps you to know if you are paying too much for something. You don't want to get suckered so the best tips is to educate yourself.
*Take your time. If you are buying something, look at it carefully. This is especially true if it is glassware (check for cracks and chips), home decor or dishes. Oh, and anything you plan to use for a baby or toddler. NEVER buy a used baby car seat. Now sometimes I see something has a flaw, but I can fix it at home or live with it since the price is already so discounted, so I buy it anyway.
*Bargain. Never be afraid to ask for a different price at a garage sale or flea market. When I first started, I was shy about doing this but then I realized many people do it. You never want to purchase something that you feel you paid too much for and are unhappy about the price. The worst they can say is no. The best is they take your offer or at least meet you halfway. It is worth asking!
*Go early. Really. Go early to garage sales or thrift store sale days to find the best, beat the large crowds, and save yourself from heat stroke!
*Check the free sections. Some thrift stores and garage sales have free boxes. Always look in them because you never know what you will find. Don't assume there is only "junk" in there. I have actually found several of my childhood toys (hello plastic chicken nuggets in Halloween costumes) in these boxes. I also look in the clearance sections. One of my thrift stores has a section where orange stickers are 5 for $1.00.
*Lysol and bleach are your friend. I may buy something dirty or ugly and then take it home and bleach it clean with the intent of making it into something useful. You have to be able to look beyond the dirt and ugly sometimes, especially if you plan on refinishing or refurbishing something. I can drive my husband a bit crazy with my intent to always save or fix something I find. I have been known to never say no if a friend says, "Hey, I was about to throw out this dresser, do you want it? It's FREE...." Sometimes Ben, my husband, groans when he has to take the pick up out on a hot day to get a free piece of furniture lol, but then I always prove him wrong when I re-store it and make it a part of our house, or better yet, if I am able to sell it. It is my personal quirk that anything we buy secondhand is always set out in the sun, bleached, Lysol-ed and/or washed in the washing machine before we put it in our house.
I hope some of these tips are helpful. I am sure I will think of others, but I can always do a follow-up post in the future. Before I go, I do have to share this cool metal pig that I saw in a restaurant the other day because I know my mom would like it-