Ever since I was little, I’ve always been a big fan of finding treasures at thrift stores. My Grandma has volunteered at one in our city for as long as I can remember so we would visit her at work and look around, and she would bring gifts for us whenever she found something she thought we would enjoy. I was always so excited for those gifts and still love when she brings sweet treasures home, and now for our little Clementine!
Now that I have an entire home to decorate and make our own, cozy, unique place, I get to peruse thrift stores and vintage stores for a wider variety of items. I’ve found pottery serving dishes, artwork, brass candle holders, afghans, brass figurines, wooden dishes and recently an antique china cabinet.
Here are a few guidelines I find useful while thrifting…
- Go Prepared. Before I go on a thrifting-day-excursion I make a list of items I am looking for. Of course I always keep an open mind for random items I see and fall in love with, but knowing which items I’d like to find helps me not to get too distracted or overwhelmed.
- Be Patient. Sometimes my trips end up being completely unsuccessful and I go home empty handed. That’s okay! It’s hit or miss finding treasures, and having the patience to find the real gems is the best part of thrifting because it makes the items so much more worth it.
- Inspect the Item. Always be sure to look over the item you are considering buying. If there’s a window in the store, stand by it and hold the item up to check for stains, yellowing, cracks & chips (that aren’t in the “right” places), and make sure it’s in good condition still. Just because it’s vintage doesn’t mean that you should settle on quality.
- Research Big Ticket Items. Before spending money on bigger items, such as furniture, make sure to research what the price range should be on said items so you don’t overpay. Furniture from early-mid 20th century can potentially contain lead paint (18th and 19th century items are more safe) so be sure to consider this fact. If the furniture is chipping, you may want to think twice about potential danger.
- Think Twice. Whenever I find an item I like, I will pick it up, look it over, and then put it back down. If you can walk away from it, still unsure, look around the store more and go back to look at the item again. Then, if you still like it, and know where you will put it, snatch it up! Beware though that there is a chance someone else could grab it once you walk away so…if you can’t walk away from it, grab it so someone else doesn’t!
- Go During the Changing of the Seasons. I like to check out the thrift stores whenever I have time to stop in, you never know what you’ll find, but I definitely like to make sure I go when the seasons are changing. People tend to clean out their homes at this time. Make sure to go after spring cleaning time. You can find some real good treasures after that!
- Give Yourself a Limit. I tend to want to bring too many things home because I worry I won’t find it again when I “may need it”. I like to give myself a spending limit so that it not only limits the items I can bring home but again, makes me really consider the item and if it’s truly a gem.
- Consider Repurposing. You might not be able to find the exact item you are dreaming about but you could potentially repurpose an item to make it what you want. Think old rocking chair, re-stained. A vintage dresser, but with new knobs. Figurines, spray painted and made into book stops. It’s all about making things unique and your own, whether it’s re purposing it or how you style it in your own home.
- Know Your Brands. Although it doesn’t always matter who the item is made by (hey, if you’re in love with it then get it!), it pays to know some names of valuable brands. This can also help determine if the item is worth the price it is marked at.
- Dress Appropriately. Some antique and thrift stores can be paaaacked, so bringing in a big purse, or dressing in clothing that could get caught easily is a bit risky. Keep your shoe choice in mind as well, you want to be comfortable while shopping and not have to worry about sore feet (or tripping).