One of my favorite things is visiting thrift shops, yard sales, estate sales, auctions and the like. "One person’s trash is another person’s treasure" is more than just a cliche for me--it’s a part of my life. Looking around my home, I realize many of my furniture pieces are thrifted or gifted and much of my home decor has been DIY. I’ve had a long history of being thrifty because it directly impacts both my wallet and the environment.
There really are so many reasons to shop for used goods: It keeps stuff out landfills, reduces the amount of new consumer goods being produced, offers unique finds that can’t be found at BIG BOX stores, is wallet-friendly, and, of course, it's loads of fun! I really enjoy the challenge of discovering something I need for my home while out at a thrift shop or estate sale --it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. I also love the anticipation of seeing a do-it-yourself home decor project come together.
Recent finds of mine have included a box of embroidery floss and hoops (I enjoy needlepoint and decorating the walls with my finished projects), some old hankies (which I use to wrap small gifts) and a computer chair for my husband’s office.
While out at a local estate sale shop (one of my regular haunts), I also recently found a battered chest of drawers that needed a little TLC. I had been looking for something to stick in the bathroom to store washcloths and other things you want to hide away. Looking online, I found what I was looking for but I wasn’t liking the $100 plus price tag. I decided I would eventually come across something while out thrifting. Pretty soon I did and for only $15! My find did need some paint and new knobs, but I had leftover paint on hand already and the knobs only cost $6. I think $21 is a whole lot better than $100 plus, don’t you agree?
Here’s the before and after shots of my project. I know it doesn’t look like much of a difference in these images, but believe me it is. Before, it was dingy, dinged up and dirty. After, it looks a hundred bucks!
For the uninitiated wondering how best to get started, here’s a list of places to discover great finds for yourself, your home and your life:
- Yard/garage sales - many local, community and regional newspapers still post notices in their classified sections for these.
- Estate sales/auctions - I’ve found the best way to find these is to look in the Yellow Pages or do an Internet search for your town + estate sale.
- CraigsList - no explanation needed, except do use some caution.
- Freecycle - Freecycle is a nonprofit grassroots movement dedicated to connecting people and their stuff for the purpose of keeping stuff out of landfills.
- Thrift store shops - this site is a national thrift shop finder tool.
- Antique shops - it is possible to find good bargains at antique stores too.
- Flea markets and junk sales - again a quick Internet search for your location will work.
Finally, thrifting is about more than just the destination, it’s also about the journey. Take a friend, make a day of it (I go at least twice a month) and have fun!
Top image: Orin Zebest
Bottom image: Jen Wallace