Thursday, September 26

Top 10 Things I Buy at Thrift Stores

Have you ever decorated your home with only a small budget? If so, then you’re probably already familiar with your local thrift stores. But whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’re new to the arena, it helps to know what you should be looking for! So today I wanted to share a short list of my very favorite things to hunt for when I’m thrifting, along with what I typically pay for those items. I’ll tell you now, there are some deals to be had out there if you’re willing to search a bit!

That’s why I love thrifting. Sometimes a little too much. It's easy to see those prices and just snatch up everything in sight that you might ever possibly use. I know. I used to do that myself. But trust me - from this side of things, I can tell you that it is so worth it to wait for the thing you really need and will really use. Right now. Don't clutter up your home just because it's a good deal. So, with that in mind, here are my top 10 favorite things to thrift!

1. Dishes

Our main, everyday dishes are from Ikea, but most of our other dishes - cups, serving dishes, and even crocks - are thrifted. This dish aisle is one of my favorite areas of the store because there are so many treasures to be found! At my local store I expect to pay about $0.69 for individual cups and plates, and up to $3 for larger serving dishes. It's a great way to build a beautiful, eclectic collection on a budget!

2. Books

Probably 90% of the books on our shelves were bought second hand - either at thrift stores or yard sales. I've actually had to rethink my book-buying habits because it turns out there is such a thing as too many books. Or at least, too many books for our bookshelves. So I've stopped buying everything that catches my eye and I'm focusing more on quality hardback copies of really good books. My local thrift store usually has a great book selection! I typically pay $0.69 for children's books and $2.50 for chapter books at Goodwill.

3. Baskets

I never pass up the basket aisle. It can be hit or miss depending on the day, but there is usually a decent selection and I've found some great baskets over the years! I usually pay $1-2 per basket.

4. Art

The art section is a great place to search for hidden gems like this original oil painting - one of my all-time favorite finds! Plus it's a regular old treasure trove if you're looking for picture frames - don't be afraid to buy an ugly piece of art just to get its frame. Locally I expect to pay $3-4 for a painting (I think this one was $4) or framed art, and about $2 for an empty frame. You can build an entire gallery wall for a great price!

5. Furniture

With a careful eye, you can find some insane furniture deals at the thrift store! I'm always on the lookout for a great dresser, vintage cabinets, and wooden chairs. You do have to be a bit careful in the furniture section, though, because there are often broken or cheaply-made pieces that aren't worth buying, even at thrift store prices. I look for solid wood pieces in decent condition (I don't mind a few minor repairs for a quality piece) with good bones. Remember, anything can be painted so don't let a bad color distract you from the prize! Our dining chairs, desk, and some of our dressers (this one and this one) were all second hand! Prices vary greatly and sometimes they nice wood pieces are even cheaper than their particle board cousins. So keep your eyes open and snatch up a deal if you see one!

6. Sheets

Specifically large floral flat sheets. I keep a collection of them in our closet because they are perfect for building blanket forts, picnics, and all kinds of pretend play. They are lightweight and easy to carry, plus they don't take up much space to store! And it's a total bonus that they're so pretty. I've paid $1-2 per sheet.  

I'm also keeping an eye out for wool blankets we can use for camping. I haven't found any yet. But I'm ever a thrift-store-optimist.

7. Home Decor

I've become much more careful this year about what I bring into my home, especially when it comes to decor. No more thoughtless clutter, thankyouverymuch. (read more about our shopping ban + spending freeze here) But with a careful eye you can find all sorts of beautiful and unique pieces for amazing prices. I have found some of my favorite decor second-hand! Deocr items are typically $1-2 locally. Which I'm just now realizing is the price range for almost everything I've bought there. Do they only have two price sticker options and just price everything with them? My gut says "yes."

8. Storage Items

When I need to organize something, I love to start at the thrift store. Especially in my beloved basket aisle. But with everything from baskets to shelving to drawer organizers, you never know what you'll find! Two of my very favorite items to hunt for at the thrift store are vintage wooden accordion hat racks (great for hanging anything from purses to jackets to umbrellas!) and knick-knack shelves or printer's drawers that we use as treasure shelves to display all the little goodies the boys collect:

9. Clothes

Especially boy's clothes. I don't usually take the time to dig through the women's clothes - I've learned over the last year or so that I'm kind of a clothes minimalist. I know what I like and for most things I'd rather pay the extra to get exactly what I want new without searching and trying things on.

But for kids clothes it's a whole different ball game. They grow through sizes so quickly, and wear things out so quickly, that it's a constant flow in-and-out of the house. I love being able to freshen things up for a great price, especially since everything will be worn such a short time. All these were - you guessed it - $1-2 each. BUT I did have to sift through the racks to find things for that price. Honestly our local Goodwill has some of the worst thrift store clothing prices I've seen. But the clothes are typically in great shape and I can still find a few things in the $1-2 range.

10. Lamps

I love thrifted lamps. Almost every lamp in my home is thrifted, and I actually have my eye on another I'm hoping to go back for on half-price day! My favorites so far are my bedroom sconces, a desk lamp (it was a brand new $50 lamp for $5!), and our dining room chandelier. Just plug them in first to make sure they work (our store has an outlet buy the lamp shelf for testing them) but most of the lamps are there just because they are outdated or unwanted, even though they work perfectly. And the outdated ones? They actually tend to have a really great shape and look amazing with a coat of spray paint and a new shade. As far as pricing, I think I paid $5 each for every lamp I've ever thirfted. Here are a few helpful posts on give old lamps a new life:

Those are my top 10 thrifty items!

But remember, they don't just show up overnight. Thrifting is a patient man's game. I often come home with one or two small items, but there are many times I don't come home with anything! I mean, I've been looking for a second-hand cabinet for our craft room for a year. A year. I still haven't found the style I like for a price I want to pay. So I'm waiting it out until I find something I like cheap, or until we have the budget to pay more for one. In the mean time I'm not spending money on a cabinet that's not going to meet our needs long-term. Patience, padawan.

Here's a look at a pretty typical thrifty haul for me (from Goodwill a couple weeks ago):
  • Three beautiful hardback books for the kids. The Eleventh Hour is one I loved reading when I was younger!
  • A small basket. I bought it for our math cards but M3 claimed it and has been using it to haul his animal figures around the house ever since. 
  • A beautiful, large serving dish.

And here are two of my sister's yard sale hauls from this summer because they are so good:
  • Two embroidered pillowcases
  • A child-size embroidered table cloth
  • Three small vases
  • A handmade doll blanket
  • A wooden accordion hat rack. Which she knows her sister has been looking for. So she better keep an eye on it. 
  • two scoops (I love these!)
  • a blue doily
  • an embroidered tea towel (how does she find all this embroidered stuff??)
  • a tiny crate
  • some jewelry
  • a bee spoon rest

There is no better way to create a unique, beautifully curated home on a budget. Hands down. No contest. So get out there and check out your local thrift stores. Make note of which ones have the best selection and best prices. And check back as often as you like. They're always getting new inventory!


What do you love to shop for at thrift stores? Tag me if you share a haul!

Check out my other thrifty finds here!

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