11.01.2011

Thrifting 101...(esp. for us "small-town folk" :)

Have you ever watched a design show on television where they showcase all of these amazing finds that they've scored from antique stores and local thrift shops, and think to yourself, why can't I ever find those things?!? (I know some of you are with me on this!)

Well I personally feel that finding second-hand treasures takes a bit of a strategy...especially if you live in a small town!

Whenever I find something on Kijiji or in a thrift store and post about it, I often have people ask me "where did you find that?!" or "where do you shop? I never find things."

Just to answer those questions for you, I never find things at one specific place, I look ALLLL the time, and its rare that I do find anything! I am ALWAYS looking. I think the other challenge is knowing what to look for. A lot of times, people pass things by because they look damaged or old, or "un-pretty". Once you are able to see the potential in things, you will notice a world of treasures awaiting you!

I think the other challenge that some of us face, is living in a smaller town. Often times big cities have more selection of these things, because there are more people living there, more history, etc. Sometimes very small towns have more treasures, based on the fact that the town is older and older homes, sometimes have older things.
My town is none of these things! It has 3 Universities/Colleges which means a lot of student housing, its not huge (but not small) and it seems that everyone (and their best friend) is out at thrift stores looking for things! We dont have tons of these stores in our area either, so the ones that do exist sell out of things...FAST.

Even today, I found an awesome chair on Kijiji for $20.00. Ironcially I knew the seller! I was the first to respond to the ad, and the seller told me I could come by once they were home from work. I waited for their email, and responded about an hour after they had written it (as soon as I noticed it). I contacted the seller back, and to my dismay, they sold they chair to someone else who decided to come and offer twice the price. Literally, within an hour, I lost my chair (even though I told the seller I was definitely coming to get it). I couldn't believe it. SHARKS...people are sharks!

So, in order to be lucky in your search (for all my local hunters out there) here are some tips for you:

1.) Look OFTEN. I usually scour thrift stores on a weekly basis and if I have time, sometimes go to multiple stores in a day.

2.) Try different stores. Even if you have success at one store, it doesn't mean that store will always bring you treasures. I probably go to about 4-5 different stores all the time, and Ive found things in all of them.

3.) If you see something you like...BUY IT. Don't hesitate, dont walk away, and dont come back later. It WILL be gone. You need to think aggressively people! Recently my mom discovered a vintage typewriter with ivory keys and decided to think about it. She went back the next day and as she walked in the store, she literally saw a man walking out with the exact typwriter...just missed it!

4.) Look everywhere. Just last week, I found a vintage washboard hiding under a picture, on a couch, in the back corner of the store. I dont think anyone else would have found it there. I just got lucky. The best part? A sweet little older lady saw me carrying it around the store and stopped me to tell me a store of her mother washing her clothes by hand with one of them :) I love the idea that these pieces all have a story to them.



5.) Think potential. I know when you watch these shows, everything looks all shiny and new, but most of those pieces started as an 'ugly duckling' too! Try to invision how it could look...look at the lines on the piece, and how it was built. Solid wooden pieces usually retain their value much more that other materials.

6.) Take photos. On the same day I found the washboard, I came across a vintage cooler. It caught my eye immediately, and I actually debated on it (ahhh went against rule #3!). It was only $12.00, was in decent shape, but I wasn't sure if Ian would kill me for buying it....so I took a picture and emailed it to him. His response: "BUY IT...RUN!" lol. The picture helped me to get a second opinion and to think of where it would work in our home. I'll never regret the $12.00 and its definitely functioning and will work great on our deck in the summer.





It needs a bit of fixing up, but otherwise in great condition!



7.) Think future. I was recently looking for some books at a second hand store, and saw some vintage cook books, as well as a vintage storybook. It was published in 1950 and was a collection of the first Disney stories ever created. Its hardcover, the pictures are old but in excellent condition and will look so neat in a kids room one day :) The cookbooks are neat decor pieces and can always be used!

8.) Look at condition. If its falling apart and you can't fix it, dont buy it. You'll just be frustrated that you spent the money on it, and it'll sit in your basement forever. Buy pieces that are in decent condition, pieces you have the ability to fix, and pieces that work (or will work) in your space somehow.

So there you have it. Dont give up! It takes time, but I absolutely love looking at second hand and thrift stores. It's never boring, there's always interesting things to see, you never know what you might find, and things aren't usually a lot of money! You are also adding a lot of interest and style to your home. We all want the things in our home to tell a story or have a history, and adding in a few pieces like this will definitely help you to do that :)

Happy Goodwill Hunting!

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