Saturday, February 2

7 Thrifting Tips

I'm loving the new #thriftandtell tag on instagram. You guys know how much I love a good second hand find, and I love seeing your finds just as much! So let's talk thrifting!

Thrifting is one of my very favorite ways to turn a house into a home. I firmly believe that any house can be beautiful and welcoming and cozy, and that you don't have to drop big bucks to get there. Thrifting has allowed me to decorate our home even when the budget was tight. Plus here are benefits to second-hand items that you just don't get with new off-the-shelf items:
  • unique and one-of-a-kind pieces
  • real, vintage character
  • sturdy real-wood furniture pieces
  • lower price tags!
Seriously, it's one of the single best ways to furnish and decorate your home on a a budget and with a style that's uniquely yours. But if you're a thrifting novice it can be a bit overwhelming. So today I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for shopping second hand!

$0.25 succulent pot from a garage sale (check out all my thirfty finds here)

1. Look at what you have. This is so important if you want to be a thrifty shopping ninja. You're looking at what you have for two important reasons. First, to see if you already have something that can fill the need. Because there's nothing thriftier than free! When I was looking for a new console table for our living room I brought up an old dresser up from the basement and it fit beautifully without costing a dime! Second, you want to look at what you have so you don't over-buy or buy a duplicate item. You may see some cute cups when you're out shopping but if you already looked at what you have and know you have enough cups, you can save that money up for something spectacular. (In fact, we're doing our best to not buy a single thing in 2019 so we can get out of debt and build our savings. Check out this post for all the details.)

These glass bottles were only $0.25 each at a garage sale.
2. Know what you need. This kind of fits with #1, because you also need to take a good look at the space you have. Take the time to study the space you're working on and build a vision of what you want and need. If you know you need a large pot and a 2' painting to create the vignette you imagine, you won't be tempted to buy whatever bowl or candle sticks might work because you already know what you need.

These chairs were $5 each at a garage sale. They just needed a coat of paint.

3. If you want to FIND, you have to SEARCH. Once you're settled on what you have and what you need, it's time to actually look for those items. Whether you prefer garage sales, thrift stores, or online sources like craigslist or fb marketplace, there are new items every time you look. The only way to find what you need is to keep looking. So if you're looking for a specific piece, look often and look as many places as you can. There will days when you'll leave empty handed. But the more you look, the more you find. And one day they will have the perfect thing for an amazing price. It's hit and miss for sure, but you'll never hit if the fear of a miss keeps you at home.

And it often means actually getting in there and digging through piles of dishes or clothes or rugs to see what's hiding underneath. The first time I dug through a mountain of paintings at a thrift store I uncovered this treasure:

Original oil painting I found at a Salvation Army thrift store. One of my all-time favorite finds!

4. Patience, my Padawan. Really, though. Like I said in #3, there are different items every day. Unlike walking into a store and picking what you want off the shelf, you may have to wait days, weeks, or even months to find a good fit. The people who lose faith in thrifting are usually the ones who don't understand that it's a waiting game. Some days you'll come home with nothing. And that's okay. Because if you're patient it will pay off in both the money you save and the fabulous items you find! Because you will find them in time. So don't give up, and don't be afraid to turn down an item that miiiight work but just doesn't feel quiiiite right. Because you are a patient thrifting ninja who knows what items are worth waiting for.

I found these vintage jelly jars at a thrift store for $0.50 each. We love using them as kids' cups! 

5. Focus. Especially if you're making a bigger purchase. Don't buy the first desk (or chair or mirror or whatever you're looking for) just because it's cheap and "it will work." Hold out for one that is affordable and beautiful. If you jump the gun and buy one you don't really love, you'll just end up replacing it later and the money you spent on this one = wasted. I looked at dozens of desks before I found the one for our home office, but by the time I found it I knew what I really, truly wanted and I was able to jump on it with confidence.

Now don't get me wrong - if you move in to a new place and literally don't have a table to eat at, go ahead and buy the first and cheapest thing you can find. Your first priority is a home that works for your family and this is the right time to buy a place-holder piece. But if you're looking to replace a table that you don't like or isn't quite the right size, it's worth waiting for one that fits all your criteria.

The desk, chair, and glove are all second-hand! Check out how we totally updated this space for just $35.

And while we're talking about focus - focus on what you really need. If you're shopping for that new desk, don't buy every candlestick in the store just because they're cute. Go back to #1 and #2 and get your head around what you have and what you still need. Thrifty ninjas don't whittle away money on little extras they don't need. Focus.  We still want to be thoughtful with our purchases and what we truly want to bring into our homes. We don't want to waste money or space on purchases we'll regret later just because they are a good deal. This is a lesson I'm still learning. It's hard not buy all the deals! But I've made leaps of progress since we started our spending freeze/money makeover. As my husband likes to say: the best deal is buying nothing.

6. Don't be afraid of quirks. If something needs a little work, the price often reflects that! Minor repairs, a worn out finish, and unique details are nothing to turn your nose up at. Most people will pass over those items, which helps lower their price even further. And you are a thrifting ninja who can see the potential in the most affordable items.

 This dresser was painted black and one drawer was in pieces... and I got it for FREE! Tutorial coming soon for that mountain silhouette detail at the bottom!

7. Make an offer. This won't apply in, say, a Goodwill, but sellers online, at garage sales, and at privately owned shops are often open to bartering! And some think it's half the fun. If you're kind and respectful, you may just walk away with a bargain! There are a few keys to bartering success:
  • Be kind. Oh, did I say that already? Well it's important so listen up! Don't talk down to them, don't act like you're doing them a favor by buying their item, don't low-ball, etc. Imagine how you would want a buyer to treat your grandma, and treat your seller the same way. Nothing will ruin a deal faster than a bad attitude. If you act like a jerk they will turn down your offer in a second, and might decide not to sell to you at all. Just be kind.
  • You get a better deal if you bundle. If a yard sale is offering dining chairs for $10 each, you could offer $50 for a set of six. But you can try bundling anything that's for sale! Most people will be glad to give you a deal to get rid of more items!
  • Sellers like fast pick-up. Many sellers just want the item out of their house or off their sales floor. Especially for online sales. When I'm dealing with FB marketplace I'll often phrase my offers like this: "Would you take $20? I can pick up tonight!" And then I actually pick it up that night (this goes back to be kind). I've rarely had someone turn down that offer.
  • The longer it's been listed, the lower you can offer. So if something is outside your budget, keep an eye on it for a while. You might get lucky! The timeline depends on where you're shopping - items that have been in a shop for a week, online items (craigslist, etc.) that have been listed for a few days, or garage sale items that are still there the last hour before closing up. Those are your best chances to get a great deal! This tip is more helpful if there is a more expensive item you love. Maybe something that looks just perfect but it's outside your budget. If it's a little more than you'd like to pay go ahead and make an offer right away, but if it's quite a bit out of your budget you can watch it for a week and if it's still for sale, go ahead and make an offer within your budget. They are much more likely to bite at that point! And if they still say no? Say thank you anyway, and let them know you'll still be interested if it doesn't sell and they decide to go that low. Be kind. If they still don't get any bites, they'll have you in the back of their mind when they're ready to be done with it. Shopping at a yard sale? Leave your number and let them know they can contact you if it hasn't sold at the end of the day! However, if you see something you love that's in your budget go ahead and buy that baby before it's gone. Don't risk someone else swooping in with a full-price offer. In your budget means in your budget, and it's okay to just pay what they're asking and lock down the item.
  • Don't take it personally if they turn down your offer. Remember it's their stuff and they can sell it for whatever you want. And you get to decide if you want to pay that price. So chin-up and no grumbling.  
I only paid $2 for this whole box of dirty old jars. They cleaned up beautifully and they've been holding my dry goods in the kitchen for seven years!

You're ready! Go out and find that second-hand goodness. Let me know what you find! And you can check out all my thirfty finds here.

P.S. Don't forget to #prayforramona

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