Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thrift Shopping: Diamonds in the Rough

Yesterday I showed you some of the creeptastic items to be found at my local thrift shop. So why do I keep going back?

1. I love to find things my family needs, at a fraction of the retail price.
2. I love to recycle.
3. I like the challenge of seeing beyond initial appearances to rethink how something can be used.

In an earlier post I gave some general tips about thrifting. Today I'd like to take you on a trip down the aisles with me to get a feel for what you might find at your local store. I do not go to stores where you have to dig.

When thrifting, it's good to have an idea of what you would like to find (i.e. rollerblades for the kids), but also to keep an open mind, and preferably an open back seat, for the unexpected.

Yesterday I saw row upon row of American Flags people had donated:

I'm not sure whether this means people are getting more or less patriotic, but if you are looking to replace your flag for the upcoming holiday weekend, you should have no trouble finding one. I bought a gorgeous old cotton flag that was in perfect condition.

Then I lingered at the scarves:

While I am not a scarf lady, every few months I'll buy a pretty one to tie around my key chain. This makes my keys much easier to keep track of in my purse, adds some color to my outfits, and lets me hang the keys around my wrist when I walk the dog.

In addition to scarves and hats, you can also find loads of fabric at thrift stores, so if you have an upcoming furniture project to do, be on the lookout.

Speaking of furniture, think SHAPE and STABILITY. If you spot a shape you like, don't get hung up on the finish, which you can easily change. Stability is important unless you like repairing furniture, which I do not.

For example, check out these bistro chairs! What a classic shape, and a little sanding and spray paint will rectify the botched, drippy paint job. Bright red? Black? Yellow? They would look terrific!

Speaking of shape, this console table is gorgeous! It is as long as a couch, and would be great as a sofa table, or with garden stools tucked underneath it, or in an entry way. I love the clean shape, and can picture it painted in a glossy white lacquer.

In fact, at the grocery store today I saw this. Look familiar?

While thrift stores are the BEST place to find household staples, kids' clothes, and books, they are also a little bit of heaven if you like VINTAGE items! The sheer volume of merchandise coming into these shops means you are sure to find something vintage. I've written about my collection of off-white vintage jewelry boxes, which are a thrift store staple.

Other things have been catching my eye, too, like vintage aprons. Check out this cute strawberry number:

Of course, you'll have to make your way through the cheesy French Maid-type aprons to get to the vintage goodness. Ewwww...

And ice buckets! Elle Decor has a feature on lovely and pricey ice buckets in its new issue. Why not go vintage and get a unique ice bucket with a sense of history at a great price? Cocktails, anyone?

One last piece of advice is that if you think you might like something, throw it in your cart as you shop. If you don't, it may not be on the shelf or rack later. Then, just ponder as you shop.

Yesterday I found a 50's-style kelly green dress. I couldn't tell whether I loved it or hated it, but I threw it in the cart anyway. As I wandered the aisles, I had time to decide if it would work for me. They answer was yes, and for $5.25 I have a fun "new" dress for summer. If I had waited until next time, It may have been gone:

Well, that's it for today. I'm off to flounce around in my dress and contemplate the return of Mad Men.

I hope you are having a great day!


Ellen aka Ellie said...

That middle ice bucket would be perfect in our kitchen. And the green dress? Oo-la-la.

Such fun!

I need to hit the Goodwill in the next town soon.

I never thought of donating a flag. Mine always go to the VFW for disposal, but your mention of a cotton one reminds me of the flag from my childhood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those great tips. I too often get caught up in wanting to find the perfect thing...and have probably passed over many great items that could have just used a little attention or paint.

Love the dress!


Christy said...

You look gorgeous! And so thin! I love that color on you too!

I have NEVER been thrift store shopping, but after reading this post, I simply MUST go. Preferably, with you. How's San Diego, first weekend in August?!?!?!

Ana said...

Hi Anna,
I just read your last post...You had me laughing so hard...Very funny post...You definitely brightened my day :-) Anyways todays post was filled with great thrift store shopping tips. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day.

Hugs and Kisses,

Momastery said...

Anna- which thrift shop is that console table living? Did you check the price? LOVE!

I can't find my blog said...

Love the dress! You've got a great thrift store there. I've been going to one that is close to me lately but there has been NOTHING that cute.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Glennon- I'll email you w/ the details right now!

K A B L O O E Y said...

You look perfectly attired for Mad Men viewing. Very fetching. I also like the console table. And since I spent a whole manicure watching Designing on a Dime yesterday, it strikes me that you should definitely have your own HGTV hosting gig. Just you, your green dress, a can of spray paint, roaming the thrift stores of the northeast. Can you see it?

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Love both this post and the last one. Can you believe that I never go to thrift stores anymore? But that's mainly because I have 2-3 children with me would love to test the "you break it - you buy it" store policy.

Maybe I should find someone to watch them and start going with you. Love that new dress!

Gretchen said...

That dress is adorable and you look fantastic in it!

I love to thrift shop but I think it's really key to have a good one.

Me personally, I can't STAND our local Goodwill because the kids clothes are all hung together, girls with boys, preemie mixed with size 8. It's all willy nilly intermingling and it's a mess. I mean, it's all hung up but how in the world does a person WITH KIDS NO LESS find something in that unorganized rack?!?!

I have a different thrift shop I go to that has awesome clothing selections but everything else is kinda the pits. I'd love to find some more chairs or other little fun photography stuff, just for props.

Sara said...

Anna - Thank you for all of your fun ideas! I LOVE the idea of the scarf on your keys. I think I might do that!

On a separate note...I am moving this weekend and need to make quick work of turning an ugly dining table & chairs look pretty. What's your best advice for taking restaurant quality poly-seal off of chairs? It seems tough to get through.

Thanks! said...

Such a fun post Anna! I feel like I just went shopping with you! Gotta love thrift stores!

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Sara-- about the chairs... I'm not sure. Are you going to paint or re-stain? If you are going to paint, I would just prime and paint. If you are going to re-stain, then I think you should use a gel furniture stripper. Let me know how it goes! Hope the move is smooth!

for a different kind of girl said...

My mom haunts our local thrift store and is constantly calling me to tell me what treasures she's found, and usually - minus a particularly ugly fruit bowl she came home with last week - she does a great job finding the good stuff. I, on the other hand, never seem to get here on a good day. Ever. However, if I need a VHS copy of the Tae Bo workout, which long ago and far away I once paid a lot of money for, I can go pick up one of many copies of it for a quarter.

Susie - Walking Butterfly said...

So fun! I love coming by your blog! That dress is adorable on you!

Sara said...

Thanks Anna! The moving day went as planned...hectic and stressful and exhausting! :) I think I might try my hand at spray painting. Seems it does wonders to your treasures!