Have you ever marveled at someone who found a beautiful piece of furniture or a terrific article of clothing at a rummage sale or thrift shop?
I have been convinced for years that, like gardening and most sports, thrift shopping was just not one of my talents. When I went to garage sales and thrift stores, I found nothing but dusty, unappealing relics. Where were the treasures?
I’ve learned a lot from Carey, my fellow blogger here at The Inspired Budget, and she’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of thrift shopping. I am not the dedicated thrift-store shopper that Carey is, but thanks to things I’ve learned from her, I now consider myself an occasional thrifter.
Being an occasional thrifter means I’ve shifted my thinking and my shopping strategy a bit. When I need something – especially if the item is some kind of home decor – my first inclination used to be to head to a big-box or department store. Now, I include thrift stores in the mix, and I’ve had some success.
1. Shop with purpose, and take your time whenever possible. Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. At Christmas, I was shopping for a toddler’s gift. I decided to stop at a thrift store, and I browsed until I was satisfied that I’d seen all the clothing that was the right size. I ended up buying two pairs of pants, two adorable name-brand sweaters and a pair of pajamas for $7. All the clothing was in good condition, and because it was so affordable, I was able to buy more clothing than I would have if I’d gone elsewhere.
2. Use your imagination. When you find an item that catches your eye, look beyond its obvious uses. Last summer, I needed a container for a flower arrangement. I found an interesting – but plastic-lined and tape-covered – black wire holder that had three empty spaces where votive candle holders had been. After I cleaned it up and filled the empty spaces with miniature flower arrangements, a neglected-looking item was a charming summer centerpiece.
3. Know when to move on. I’ve needed a basic, clear glass pitcher for months, so I opted to check my local thrift stores for one. I found pitchers that were too big, too small, the wrong color, or plastic. After it seemed that I’d looked at all the options, I decided to cut short my hunt and go to a big-box store. I found a heavy, clear glass pitcher for $15. With the investment of a couple more hours of time, I might have found something similar at other thrift stores. But sometimes, saving yourself time and stress is worth paying full price.
What about you? Are you an occasional thrifter, or an avid thrifter? Have you ever gotten a great deal or really good treasure when you were thrift shopping?