How to Find Thrift Store Treasures
I'll never forget the first time I dragged Kyle with me to the thrift store. We hadn't been dating very long and he knew I loved shopping, but he thought my style was more Nordstrom & J.Crew; not scouring racks of previously loved pieces. What he soon learned was that I LOVED finding thrift store treasures.
When I was in high school I volunteered at a local Hospice thrift store as part of my community service for college. I loved it! I would help sort & price pieces and loved being the first to see what was being donated. I quickly developed a penchant for vintage jewelry and dresses. I had pretty eclectic style and people at school would ask where I got something. I'd proudly say it was a thrifting find! I even planned & styled a fashion show contributing ticket funds to charity using all secondhand clothes & accessories. As I moved into my own place, I started looking for home decor & furniture that I could up-cycle and make my own.
Trips to the thrift store to hunt for treasures has become one of our "things". We've had some pretty amazing scores and want to share our tips for finding your own diamonds in the rough!
Fun fact.. I stopped in the thrift store to take some photos and stumbled upon the mid-century credenza featured in the photo above. A few photos & text messages to Kyle later and we ended up buying it! Can't wait to put this pretty little piece in our future farmhouse.
Shopping at thrift stores can be overwhelming, but I wanted to share a few tips that have helped us score some unique pieces for our closets & home!
THRIFT STORE SHOPPING TIPS:
- Not all thrift stores are created equal: Don't be discouraged by going into one thrift store that isn't your cup of tea. Each store will vary when it comes to organization, cleanliness, frequency of new inventory and pricing. Most are non-profit or go to charity organizations. My personal favorite in Madison is St. Vinny's.
- Choose a category of items to always be on the hunt for: Thrifting is way easier when you're looking for something in particular. For us it's usually mid-century furniture pieces or vintage records to add to our collection. During our wedding we were always on the hunt for milk glass vases (can you believe we collected 150 of them?).
If you're not sure what pieces to start collecting, here are a few ideas: perfectly-worn-in flannel shirts, artwork, serving pieces for entertaining like fun dishes or wine glasses, vintage jewelry, and coffee table books. If you have a favorite era for design add that to your list too. We love the way mid-century pieces mix with modern, so we're always looking out for it.
- Don't Have Non-Buyer's Remorse: The thrill of shopping at thrift stores is that you never know what you'll find. The downside to that is that most items there are one-of-a-kind. Kyle & I found an amazing molded Eames chair for a steal, it just needed a minor refurb. We debated, left, and drove back 15 minutes later.. and it was gone. We've learned our lesson. If you love it and it won't break the bank, don't hesitate!
- Wash & Launder Everything: This is a no-brainer, but be sure to wash any clothes you purchase and de-sanitize and dust any furniture or decor pieces you purchase. Things may have been sitting and collecting dust for years, just waiting for you to discover them!
- Shop with a Budget: When you first start thrifting it's easy to get carried away with how inexpensive everything is. I like to bring cash with me so I can stay on a budget (the exception would be for a splurge-worthy piece of furniture.
- Closely Examine Furniture: Buying furniture at a thrift store requires a little bit more research and planning ahead. What condition is the piece in? Is it something that can easily be fixed with sanding and a coat of stain or spraypaint? A lot of vintage furniture is made out of a wood veneer, and can be very challenging to repair.
You'll also want to bring a measuring tape if you're trying to find a piece for a certain space. Find out the policy on picking up purchase furniture. If you can't take it home with you in your vehicle, you'll need to find someone with a truck or SUV!
Happy shopping everyone! We can't wait to hear about what gems you find!