Hello, Everybody! This new series of posts will be all about embracing the secondhand lifestyle through adventures and tips I've learned throughout my years of thrifting, salvaging, recovering, and hunting for discarded and forgotten one-of-a-kind pieces. As the title hints, I will be sharing fifty tips, finds, restyles, and how to incorporate these items into your life!
I'm not sure exactly how I got into second hand shopping. I don't know if it was going to garage sales as a kid, the cool vintage boutique (Dandelion) downtown, or the first time I went to the Salvation Army and saw walls of items for less than a few bucks, but I got the thrifting bug and I've never gotten rid of it. The rush that you feel when you find an item that has YOU written all over it stashed behind a collection of weird cat figurines and used coffee pots is truly exciting. There is something special about finding a really awesome item that is unique and the only one on the shelf. What can I say, I guess I'm a total adrenaline junkie ;) There usually aren't shelves full of the same dinnerware or racks of identical dresses at thrift stores and garage sales like you would find at the mall or Target. That being said, though, I do love Target. Thrifting takes time, patience, and a willingness to dig. It may not be for everyone, but I believe that everyone can find something they need and can save a boatload of money.
1. Keep a running list whether it be on paper, your phone or in your head of clothes, appliances, furniture, textures or patterns that you love. Lately I'm really into wicker, wood, and adding pink accents throughout my home, so that's what I keep my eyes peeled for. However, I'm always looking for owls (I collect them), record players/ records, embroidered art, plant stands, vintage fabric, and SO MUCH MORE. The list varies depending on season and my budget---what I need versus what I want.
2. Frequency is important. If you're looking for a very specific style or item, you can't always expect to walk into the store (or sale) and find it immediately. There are lots of items you can almost always count on being there, but there are no guarantees. Coffee mugs, serving platers, tea towels, lamps, shoes, and clothes will be there forever, but they may not be your cup of tea. If you go often and have a broad range of things to look for, you will have a much higher success rate.
3. Look for potential!!!! Lots of stuff may need some slight alteration, after all it was someone else's junk! The other side of this is if it needs tooooooo much alteration, it may be a no-go. You know you and how much effort you're willing to put into turning a fixer-upper into a fabulous item. To be honest, I don't have that much inspiration to sand and refinish because I don't have the tools or space at my home and have to travel out to my father's shop to do any serious carpentry. It's not worth it because I have to haul stuff home where it will sit unfinished until I swap it for a new piece. My track record with hemming dresses is probably 2/25, so rarely do I buy clothing that needs alterations anymore. I look for things that could be easily spray painted, reframed, added to a collection or just need a good cleaning if the condition is less than perfect. Check out this DIY turning dresses to pillow cases or this plant stand upgrade!
4. Do you have a collection? Thrifting is a great way to add vintage or hand selected items to an existing or new collection. I collect owls and recently realized that I had...well... too many. It was hard, but I downsized. Now, I try to only pick up a new owl if it's truly unique or has a function. This is such an easy way to decide if a item makes the cut. Similarly, my coffee mug collection was outrageous, so I now collect state coffee mugs only. If it's pretty and is a state that I do not already have, I justify buying it. If I already have the state, I TRY to decide which one is better and keep that one. It's a hard life when you're obsessed with coffee mugs.
5. A good rule of thumb is if you buy something that you already have... get rid of the old one! Thrifting is a great way to spice up your home or wardrobe inexpensively. It's hard to feel bad about buying a new (better) leather belt for $2. Get rid of the old one! I do this for lots of things: towels, utensils, mugs, rugs, lamps, you name it.
I hope you've enjoyed these quick second hand shopping tips. As I said, these are basic concepts and I will get into more detail with projects, finds, and styling as the series continues. I'll also be creating a post for Thrifty Fifty all about vintage craft supplies (pros and cons). Happy Thrifting!!