First, the trip I took to the bins over the weekend:
What you see here is:
- A half dozen wide-mouth pint canning jars with lids, $0.39 each. These are for packaging sugar scrub.
- A patchwork stuffed elephant. This was intended to be a dog toy, but Mark took a shine to it and decided to take it to lab and make it his totem. I think it was $0.75.
- A vintage dish I'll tell you a bit more about in a minute, $0.25.
- Seven small (new) green glass bottles with corks, perfect for reed dispensers, $0.15 each.
- A cool tin mug advertising British Navy rum drinking, $0.39. This will be for a shaving mug set I will make.
- A set of six block printed postcards. Not sure what I'm going to do with these, but they were too cute to pass up, $0.50 for the set.
Total spent, including tax = $5.72
A bit more about that cool vintage dish? Well, this is what it looks like close up:
It's a soup bowl from the Blue Heaven collection made my Royal China Company in Sebring, Ohio. Looks like the pattern dates from the mid-50s to mid-60s. It's not worth anything, but isn't it cute?
Now, I was thinking about what I wanted to do for thrifting tips today, and I decided I'd share my top five thrift scores, and tell you what "lesson" I learned/you can learn from each one. These aren't necessarily the most interesting things I've ever thrifted, but they are the ones most likely to be considered "scores." Generally, this means they are the most valuable. They're all from the last five years or so, since I am not blessed with a particularly long memory.
#5: Wolky Barcelona Shoes
Last fall, while meandering around the North Lamar Goodwill, I spotted a pair of black Wolky Barcelona shoes. Upon further inspection, I found them to be a) size 11 and b) clearly unworn. These shoes are not at all my style, however, I knew Wolky was a good brand and they were my mom's size and looked like something she'd like, so I picked them up (I think for $5.99). Turns out they are $200 new. I gave them to Mom for Christmas and she rarely wears anything else now.
Lesson: Always buy exceptional new stuff. Even if you don't want it personally, you can gift or sell it.
#4: Ergo carrier
When I first started going to the bins a couple of years ago, I walked by one day to find a man (clearly a "professional") fingering a tan Ergo baby carrier which looked to be in excellent condition. Holding it upside down, he muttered "what the hell is this?" before throwing it to the side. At which point I scooped it up and paid $1 for it. Then I sold it on Ebay for $80.
Lesson: Know what you're looking at.
#3: Little People Village
Last spring, while digging through garbage at the south Blue Hanger store, I noticed a very beat up and possibly moldy vintage 1973 Fisher Price Little People Village box. Just to be sure, even though I really doubted there was anything in it, I peeked inside. And inside was a nearly mint condition Little People Village with 99% of the pieces. I hauled to the register, paid $1 for it, and took it home and sold it on Ebay for $70.
Lesson: Always look in the box.
#2: Columbia Sportswear parka
One evening last fall, I was sifting through the clothes at the north bins location when I spotted a tag. I always look at things with the tags still attached, just to be sure. This tag led me to a Columbia Sportswear parka, retail value about $150. Thinking there must be something wrong with it, I nearly put it back. I mean, who gives a new with tags parka to the Goodwill, and if they did, why would it not sell in the regular store and end up in the bins? But I looked it over and didn't see a thing wrong. You never know what people will throw away. Now said parka hangs in my closet, waiting for a time when I live or visit somewhere cold enough to wear it. It got a test drive in Norway last January, though, and did great.
Lesson: Sometimes it's not too good to be true.
My very favorite thrift find ever happened just after we moved to Austin. We moved from a small, shared apartment in Portland to a much larger house of our own here, and we didn't bring some of our crappy old stuff with us, so we were pretty low on furnishings. After exhausting ourselves and finding nothing we both liked and could afford in any of the furniture resale stores we tried, we were driving home when I spotted a small, crappy looking thrift store on South Lamar and insisted we stop. We almost turned around at the door--it was that uninspiring--but since we'd already stopped we went inside. At the back of the store, surrounded by four horrible ripped up woven cane 70s-style chairs, was a rectangular, solid maple butcher block kitchen table. The sign said "table and chairs, $150." Mark and I talked to the person running the place and told him we'd pay $100 for the table and they could keep the chairs, which clearly didn't belong with it. He had to call the shop owner to make sure that was OK, but our deal was eventually accepted. That table, with "new" (from Craigslist) chairs, sits in our kitchen today and I full expect it will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. It's a solid, beautiful, perfect piece of furniture. This is the closest thing to it I can find online. Yep, for $1,250.
Lesson: Always stop at one more store.