The key is low expectations, and stopping often. Seriously. Don't go the thrift store with a particular item in mind when you need it, because you most likely won't find it! And, plan ahead for best selection. Usually at the beginning of a season I look for items for the next season. No body is looking for sweatshirts in June, but I have found some great name brand items that my kids will wear this fall/winter.
|Most of their tops came from Goodwill|
Keep a running list of things to look for each time you go into a thrift store so that you walk out with something that will be useful to you and work with what you already have. I have my own list for each time I go into a thrift store. Here's what I look for:
1) Picture frames: don't look at color, just look at condition and the design of the frame. Picture frames can be easily spray painted making a bunch of mismatched frames look like an expensive collection. A large frame can be used as a chalkboard if you paint the glass. (see my last post)
2) Baskets: Here, shape and condition are key. I love square baskets in any size, they fit well on shelves and are the best use of space. I use small ones in my fridge for nail polish or sticks of butter. They are also useful in the pantry for miscellaneous small items or packages of popcorn. Of course bigger baskets are great for toys, blankets or shoes. Baskets can even be spray-painted and are especially cute for kids items.
3) Dishes or ceramic shapes: Think about what works best with what you already have. I have collected a lot of dishes, canisters and teapots all in the same color of cream. Unifying them by color makes all of these mismatched pieces look like a part of a big collection.
4) Classic Children's Books: Books can be very expensive but creating a library of books for my kids to read is important to us. It amazes me that there are so many good books languishing in the corner of a thrift store. Now I won't call this a classic but I found what appears to be a brand new hardcover Star Wars book. That doesn't knock my socks off but I know it will my son's and it only cost $1.00. (Shhhh! I'm saving it for Christmas) :)
|This is what it originally looked like and the after|
this coffee table is my all time fave and I found it in a trash heap
|Both of my bedside tables were from thrift stores|
6) Clothing: Now this one can be overwhelming. For myself, I like to focus on completer pieces like a jacket, sweatshirt or scarf. I also check out the pants. Brand name pants usually are made well and will last a while, but always check the zipper! I typically avoid the tops. These often aren't true to size as they've been stretched out by the former owner, shrunk in the wash and show wear more readily. That's not to say that there aren't any diamonds to be unearthed! I do love the thrift store more for their kids clothing. I have four kids and it is so expensive to keep everyone clothed. For kids I always look at a size bigger than what they really need because of my above statement (this is even more true for kids shirts). My focus with kids clothes are the filler pieces like sweatshirts, pajamas/loungewear, skirts, or tops rather than complete outfits. Again, I always shop ahead of the season to get the best selection. (Now is a good time to look at their short sleeve shirts.) Here are a few of my favorite jacket finds. Don't mind the poor photography, when a 7 year old is shooting your pic you take what you can get!
Shopping at a thrift store is always an adventure! Purchase items that speak to you AND will be used. You can return items at most thrift stores if the tags are still in place so don't be afraid to do that if you get home and that giant rooster doesn't look quite as good as you thought it would, or its just not appreciated by the rest of the fam. Beware though, shopping at thrift stores can be addicting especially if you've found some amazing things.
Don't say I didn't warn you! Happy shopping!