Apr 10

Tackling the Thrift Store

My last couple days have been filled with thrift store shopping… which I absolutely love!  The thrill of the hunt gets me every time.  And just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean I can’t find it cheaper.  I might just take a little too much pride in scoring a great deal.  These golden pots were a thrifty steal… can’t wait to fill them with blooms!

Gold Planters | The Day's Design

I went to a total of 8 stores to score the number of little pots I needed for my client’s next project.  I realize not everyone has that much time (that’s why you hire me!), so I want to share a little strategy with you about thrift store shopping, because not all stores are created equal.

So, how should you tackle the thrifty madness?

My first piece of advice – steer away from the “name brand” or chain thrift stores.  Goodwill may have the name, but it doesn’t deliver the goods.  Ditto to Salvation Army.  For the most part, I don’t waste my time, at least not if I’m looking for vintagy and décor type items.  Clothing might be another story.  But these stores I feel are over-shopped, so you have to be there the instant something is donated to snatch it up.  And even then, I’m not always willing to pay their prices.

Look for less known stores, which are typically less shopped and I usually score better deals.  In Grand Rapids there’s a Bethany Thrift Store or the Pine Rest Thrift Store – proceeds go to each of these organizations, and while they’re still located on the main hub of Grand Rapids, people know less about them which benefits me greatly.

Secondly, know the difference between a thrift store and antique store.  That sounds obvious, but with the turn “vintage” coming into play, this line has become clouded.  Places are popping up with titles such as estate sale warehouses.  Some are gold mines other, not so much.  Stores like this carry items ranging anywhere from collectable antiques to shampoo and Beanie Babies.  Places that claim to cater more to antique collectors are generally more expensive than those with more of a flea market sales pitch.

Stores like these also tend to have separate booths and not all booths are created equal either.  Booths are owned by different vendors, who all having different items and pricing strategy.  And occasionally a booth or two might be offering additional discounts, so pay attention to those hand-written signs.

No matter what the store, I recommend shopping on week days.  Usually there are a few less people milling about the store, which means I don’t have to make the split second buying decision.  There’s nothing worse than going back to grab your treasure, only to find someone else bought it out from underneath you.  But check their store hours, some have certain days of the week that they aren’t open or they may close earlier than your typical retailers.

Bring along your imagination along for the ride!  Items that look like junk when thrown together with other junk might actually be cool in the right setting.  Try to envision pieces in your home or with your event décor.  And if the price is right, paint can go a long way.  Love the shape of a vase but not the color – spray paint is your best friend!  And that ugly chair over there can be reupholstered for much less than buying new.  Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Any other tips or tricks?  I’d love to hear your thrifting strategies!


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