Shopping Tips From a Thrift Store Aficionado

By
Home Stager with Arranged Smartly LLC

As a home stager, I'm always concerned about budget. The first time I walked into a thrift store was when my husband and I rehabbed a home a few years ago and I was looking for window treatments. Over the years, I have continued the search for treasures and I now consider myself a thrift store aficionado. 

Here are some of my favorite tips to get the most from thrift store shopping:

  • Get acquainted with several stores. You have to visit a variety of stores a few times to figure out which ones have the treasures you're hunting. Remember, people are donating these items, so just like with real estate, location matters. A thrift store in a higher income area may offer higher end merchandise.
  • Get a cart or a basket. I've learned this one the hard way. I once missed out on a brand new lamp from Target because I had too many things in my hands and I had to go back to get a cart. The lamp was gone when I returned. Besides, a cart or basket allows hands-free searching through stacks of books or racks of linens.
  • Merchandise isn't always used. Speaking of that new lamp from Target, I've also found other brand new, still in the package items.
  • Give yourself time to shop. This is the type of store where every item is different. Take some time to really look through racks and piles of merchandise. 
  • Is it really a good deal? Make sure it works, isn't damaged or can be easily repaired or updated. A lamp may be inexpensive, but if you still have to buy a lamp shade for $20, is it the deal you thought it was? I have found brand new items at retail stores that were cheaper than the prices at thrift stores. Or if it needs paint, will you have the time to complete the project? Just because it's there doesn't make it a great deal.
  • Don't expect it to be there next time, if you walk away from an item. If you really want something, you need to buy it. Or be prepared to live with your decision, because it's very likely it won't be there if you go back. Check with store policies, it may accept returns.
  • Check your favorite stores on a regular basis. You won't find amazing deals on every trip. It's hit or miss shopping, but you may be rewarded for your efforts.Thrift store finds

 

My favorite thrift store items are hardback books, linens such as sheets and napkins, dishes, glassware and home decor items. Most of those items can be thoroughly washed. Clothing would fall into this category and can be a good buy if you try the items on.

In the photo at right, the candlestick, originally a gaudy gold, and napkins, still in the original package, are thrift store finds. 

What do you have to lose? The worst thing that can happen is discovering you can't use a purchase after all. Your money went to a charity. Just donate the item back and you can feel good about the process!

 

 

 

Cathy Brosius is the owner of Arranged Smartly, a home staging and organizing company.  Cathy and her team are working smartly for homeowners and real estate agents throughout the St. Louis region.  She has also been interviewed on KMOV's Great Day St. Louis, providing tips on staging a home for sale.


 

 

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Rainmaker
512,801
Tamra Lee Ulmer
Arizona Resource Realty - Payson, AZ
FORCE~NRBA ~ Over 1000 REO Assets SOLD!

Cathy,

What great tips you've shed some light on! You're right about not always finding deals but as long as you visit regularly you sure can find some deals! What wonderful information. Hope 2010 has wonderful things in store for you!

 

Jan 05, 2010 12:02 PM #1
Rainer
43,280
Karin Elliott
IBA Realty Group - Big Canoe, GA
14 Years as a Broker & Making Dreams Come True

I have a super stylish friend who would snub her nose at anything less that fine name furniture, rugs, etc. and she gets it for pennies on the dollar on Craigslist, and EBAy. She also schedules hours for Goodwill time and it has paid off. She has amazing lamps, pictures and accessories that she got for pennies. Her home looks like architectural Digest!

Jan 05, 2010 12:13 PM #2
Rainer
43,337
Cathy Brosius
Arranged Smartly LLC - Saint Louis, MO
Home Staging St. Louis region

Tamra, visiting regularly is really important. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great 2010, also!

Karin, thanks for that example! Just because someone has donated an item doesn't mean it's trash--it just means they don't want it anymore. It can become a real treasure for someone else!

Jan 05, 2010 12:27 PM #3
Rainer
117,889
Kate Talarico
Kates Home Staging and Interior Design - Goshen, NY
RESA, Top Orange County Home Decorator & Stager

I have never thought of trying this, thanks for the info.  Now, I have to find a local thrift store;-)

Jan 06, 2010 12:33 PM #4
Rainer
43,337
Cathy Brosius
Arranged Smartly LLC - Saint Louis, MO
Home Staging St. Louis region

Kate, you should try it! Just don't get discouraged if you don't find anything right away. I've found some amazing things that I would love to use in my house. Good luck and happy hunting!

Jan 06, 2010 01:43 PM #5
Rainer
62,148
SHARON CHARBONEAU
UPSTAGING YOUR HOMES - Sechelt, BC

Way to go Cathy.  I love wandering through thrift shops and Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  I have gotten great deals for myself and for clients.

Jan 07, 2010 08:38 AM #6
Rainer
62,148
SHARON CHARBONEAU
UPSTAGING YOUR HOMES - Sechelt, BC

I was in a local thrift store yesterday and found a charming white wicker cupboard with doors and two rungs below, which will be great in a bathroom. The best part, it was only $4.50 and the money spent goes to a local charity.

Jan 10, 2010 01:41 AM #7
Rainer
43,337
Cathy Brosius
Arranged Smartly LLC - Saint Louis, MO
Home Staging St. Louis region

Thanks for your comments, Sharon! I love finding something that is really useful for me. Also, you're recycling someone's discards and that makes it great for the environment. 

Jan 10, 2010 03:08 AM #8
Rainer
5,032
Anne Blakeley
Timeless Staging - Barboursville, VA

Great post! Some of my favorite pieces have come from thrift stores also. They offer that time worn vibe that blends with the newly purchased inventory to give a staged home the warm cozy look of a loved house, not just a polished model home look. Recently I've been finding vases in shapes I like and paint them all to match in metal finish spray paint. They look awesome when grouped in 3's with some greenery. After reading all these posts, I am eager to hit some thrift shops this week.

Jan 10, 2010 04:58 AM #9
Rainer
43,337
Cathy Brosius
Arranged Smartly LLC - Saint Louis, MO
Home Staging St. Louis region

Elaine, I'm glad you liked the post! I have some favorite pieces like a large square hammered metal bowl that was $2. It's perfect the way it is. I do paint items, and I have things waiting right now. I also love a 4-piece microfiber fiber set of matching placemats and napkins. It's difficult to find that many matching pieces!

Jan 10, 2010 07:28 AM #10
Rainmaker
2,106,166
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I've found some beautiful pieces in Goodwill and consignment shops.  My sister visits her local dump on a regular basis.  They have a room where people can donate things they no longer want and the stuff is free to anyone who wants it.  It's a great way to get rid of something that is too good to just throw away.  She has found some fabulous things there.

Jan 10, 2010 11:12 PM #11
Rainer
43,337
Cathy Brosius
Arranged Smartly LLC - Saint Louis, MO
Home Staging St. Louis region

Sharon, I love to hear that there are opportunities to reuse items instead of going in a landfill. I'll have to see if they do that locally!

Jan 13, 2010 05:08 AM #12
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Rainer
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Cathy Brosius

Home Staging St. Louis region
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