As a little bonus for our I <3 Thrifting group, I put together a "thrifting cheat sheet" of sorts, with 11 basic tips for thrifting success. As promised, I'm sharing them with you all today!
1. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE.
"Finders keepers, losers weepers." This saying was never more true than in thrift store shopping. If you're not 100% sold on the item, put it in your basket and continue to do your shopping. If it's a piece of furniture, take the tag off until you've made up your mind. You don't want to decide 10 minutes later that you can't live without it, only to find that someone else came in behind you & snatched it up.
2. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!
Don't be fooled--even if your items are in good shape, make sure you steam clean all upholstery and spray/disinfect all accessories, dishes, & textiles. A $6 find can quickly become a $600 find if you're not careful!
3. RETHINK POSSIBLE.
Could 2 end tables become a pair of stools? Would those lamps look better with a fresh coat of paint? Will recovering the cushions modernize that dining set? Think out of the box when it comes to thrift store items and see beyond that which you physically see. You'll be hard-pressed to find a piece of furniture that a fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or a reupholstery job can't fix.
4. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK!
Certain stores (specially Goodwill) are notorious for not lowering prices, but it still never hurts to ask (all they can say is no, right?)! Always ask for a manager, be kind, and let them work their magic. I once found a pair of bookends at a thrift store that were priced separately and even though the clerk told me they wouldn't chance the price, I asked for a manager & she was more than willing to adjust the price since she could clearly see they were a set. Just be aware of the places that specifically tell you NOT to request a "deal"--you don't want to become persona non grata at your favorite store!
5. BE A REGULAR
A key to finding good loot is to shop often! Statistically speaking, you have a better chance of finding something good if you drop in on your local stores regularly. All it takes is one time to hit the jackpot!
6. EXPLORE NEW AREAS
If you happen to be in an area away from your home, find the nearest thrift store and pop in! Geographic areas vary in the types of items they carry, so don't miss out by sticking close to home. Some places are a hotbed for Mid-Century or Hollywood Regency furniture, but you won't know until you go!
7. BUY RIGHT, BUY ONCE
There's nothing worse than getting an item home, only to find that it's a piece of junk! Be sure you thoroughly inspect your thrift store loot for tears, stains, weak joints, broken drawers, etc. Don't let your steal be more work than you're willing to input.
8. ARRIVE PREPARED
Make sure you have a measuring tape and notebook with the spatial dimensions of your house. You may think you know exactly what size dresser you need, but don't wait to get home and find out you're 1" off! Inspirational and actual photos of your space are always helpful as well--smart phones are great tools for storing this info!
9. STAY OPEN
Everyone loves faux bamboo & Campaign furniture, but your chances of finding some are pretty slim. If you stay open to finding something with similar lines to your dream piece (and not necessarily the exact item), you'll increase your chances of leaving the store as a happy camper!
10. CHECK FOR HIDDEN TREASURE
Quality vintage furniture almost always has a stamp. Be sure to check drawers, doors, underneath chairs and the backs of cabinets for any tell-tale signs of manufacturing information. I know someone who once found a (dirty, but otherwise perfect) Knoll chair sitting outside a commercial trash can!!! It's safe to say that the pervious owners absolutely missed out on this goldmine, and my friend is now one satisfied dumpster diver.
11. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Before you hit the stores, decide how much you want to spend on your sought-after item(s) and stick to it (still, see #9)! You might find a piece you really love but if you were only looking to spend $50 on a desk, no one but you can decide if it's intrinsically worth $150. Will you be thinking about it for days and weeks to come? Is it so unique you're sure you won't find another one like it? Then definitely get it! A few times I've felt pressured to spend more than I was comfortable spending, only to find that same item somewhere else weeks later for half the price. Know your price limits, know the value of an item, and stick to your guns.
Anything else you'd add to this list??
**and thanks, Erika, for the graphics!**