When my husband and I purchased our first home we were young and had very little money to furnish an empty house. I would drool over glossy retail catalogs and calculate how long I’d have to save up for everything I loved. Once I finally got the furniture and decor of my dreams I noticed that my friends neighbors had the same or a version of the same things. Wanting a more unique palette I looked for other ways to find distinct items that didn’t look like everyone else’s homes. That’s when I discovered thrifting. When I say “thrifting” I’m including thrift stores, second-hand shops, yard sales, Craigslist and estate sales under that umbrella word. It’s not only a great way to find unique and less trendy items but it also didn’t break my budget.
This past week I shared my tips and tricks on the art of thrifting on the Studio 5 show. If you’ve ever been to a thrift store, it can be daunting. It really is a store full of cast-off’s and can feel kind of junky. But remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are great things to be found if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and exercise a little patience.
TIP 1, Visit often.
Sometimes I come out with a whole cart of cool finds other times I find nothing. You never know when someone is going to donate something awesome so you have to keep checking back. You don’t need to make a special trip, just know where your nearest thrift store is when you are out running errands. I have to drive my kiddos across town for basketball practice at least twice a week. While they are at practice I’ll ask Siri where the nearest thrift stores are and I make a date of it. Regular pop-ins will pay off. Same goes for Craigslist or other selling apps. Check often.
TIP 2, Prepare to dig.
Leave your evening gown home and roll up sleeves. Some of my most valuable treasures have been covered with dust and dirt. Sometimes I’ll see a novice thrifter come in and just do a look over. You’ve got to sift through pictures, dusty books and trinkets to find the goods. They are there, you just need to do the work.
TIP 3, Be nice and make friends.
I’ll be honest, thrifting isn’t always the best experience. We have what I call “thrifting vultures” at a few of our local thrift stores here in Salt Lake. They hang at the stores for hours a day just waiting for the cart full of the latest donations to roll out. Elbows are flailing, sometimes they’ll even run to the next cart. It’s like a Black Friday experience. It’s easy to get cross and offended but it never serves me. Be courteous and make friends. The regulars will start to grab things they think you might like and vice versa. Having said that, make friends with the employees and shop owners. If you’re lucky they might cut you deal and alert you when cool things come to the store.
TIP 4, Bring a donation or gift.
Many thrift stores will give you a coupon when you bring a donation (Goodwill and Savers). I hoard those 30% off coupons like they’re gold. There’s also a school that regularly sells items that I frequent. I’ve made friends with the woman who runs the operation and even bring her pink Swig Sugar cookies when I visit. She is sweetheart and has started letting me know when cool things come to the warehouse. A little gift will pay off big.
TIP 5, Subscribe to email lists and yard sale apps.
I love thrifting but estate sales are my fave. You get to see a whole house full of treasures. Plus you get a sense of the story behind the item and it feels a little more classy then the thrift store. To find out about estates sales in your area google, “estate sales” then your city. Once you get on the mailing list you’ll get alerts when the next sale is. (By the way, estate sale companies aren’t usually negotiable on price the first day. On the last day they will usually discount everything 50% off to clear out the house). There are also apps that are great. I love the Yard Sale Treasure Map app which will let you know where they next yard sales are as well as give you directions to each house.
For me, finding treasures second hand is an adrenaline rush. I love the thrill of the hunt. But I also realize it’s a bit of work. Of course I have to plug my shop The Old Flamingo where 12 of us pickers have filled an entire store with amazing unique finds for screaming deals so you don’t have to. We update our Instagram several times a day with our latest scores. But if treasure hunting is your thing, utilize these tips and you’ll go far!