vintage dinnerware

Thrift shop dinnerware is eco-chic and can be as unique as you are. Mix and match styles and colors to create your individualized dining mood. Brides are even registering at upscale thrift shops for their china patterns! In addition to being a quirky, individual and environmentally-friendly choice, it may be the fiscally responsible choice, too. While a china pattern at a department store can set you back hundreds, a thrift shop find can be less than $50 (and be worth hundreds if you ever decide to sell it). Your china set could be a great short-term investment for a young married couple.

Sets such as Franciscan Hacienda Gold pattern can be found for as little as $15 to $20 in a thift shop, while each piece can be sold for $7 to $40. Odd pieces not sold in the starter table sets, such as salt and pepper shakers, gravy boats and serving trays are often the most valuable individual pieces.

And, your investment makes you feel good, too. Reducing new manufacturing and reusing existing dinnerware is the environmentally responsible choice. Plus, the great thing about eco chic dinnerware is it’s as unique as you are. You can pick out a full coordinating set or mix and match several varied pieces. Pick one style or several, layering your plates to create a dynamic space. Mix and match vintage dinnerware and embrace imperfections. Eclectic dinnerware can be a great conversation starter for your dinner parties. And when you tell your guests the story behind each piece, you bring life into your eco chic dinner sets.

Whether you’re a thrift shop pro or a relative newbie, shopping for unique eco chic dinnerware can certainly be a lot more exciting than wandering through stuffy department stores with a registry gun. 

If you’re new at the bargain shopping game, follow these tips in selecting your retro dinnerware:

  1. Buy what you like. If you’re shopping for yourself, and not to immediately resell, buy what speaks to you. If you love it, buy it, no matter what brand it is or whether it’s a valuable piece. If you love it, it will make you smile every time you see it on your table.
  2. Check the bottom for a manufacturer. If you’re out and about and you have a cellphone, google that name. Type in “Franciscan” and you’ll find all kinds of information, primarily on the popular Starburst pattern. But you also may be able to hunt down information on the resale price for your plates, if that’s of interest to you. There are some great and valuable American manufactured sets out there, such as Franciscan and Pfaltzgraff. These sets are a great way to pare down your search. If you research these two brands and look for patterns you like, you’ll be in great shape.
  3. Check for chips and imperfections. Often, there are cracks in the glaze and other imperfections that may affect the value of the piece. If you’re looking to resell, you’ll need to take note. You also may be able to use these as a bargaining chip with the seller’s price.
  4. Check for sales. Some thrift shops have 50% off senior days or special sale days. (Not a senior? Ask a parent or older friend to come with you to make the purchase.) Wait for these days if you think the set will remain unsold long enough or if the regular price is too rich for you. 

Whether you’re in it for the quick monetary turnaround on resale sites or to decorate your kitchen and dining rooms with beautiful retro chic dinnerware, you’ll have fun on the hunt for thrifty, environmentally chic dinner sets. Take a few friends with you on the hunt and turn it into a fun shopping trip and you can’t go wrong.

Don’t know where to start? Check out thethriftshopper.com to find stores in your area. Also explore these major thrift chains:

Oxfam: A global organization that works to combat poverty and suffering. The organization offers an online store of secondhand items.

Salvation Army: An organization that helps with disaster relief and supports the poor.

Goodwill Industries: An organization that provides jobs for the disabled.

D.A.V.: The Disabled American Veterans is an organization that provides support for the nation’s disabled veterans.

Follow Kristi on Twitter @VeggieConverter and Pinterest.

image: vintage 19 something