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More notes from the thrifting trenches

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So that great day of thriting I had a bit back? Got me started on an obsession. I've been several times a week since then, to all sorts of different stores. (Note to local folks: the new Goodwill in Annandale is great.)

And I'm cleaning up. I'm thrifting for tons of my friends, and I've had some really great scores. Favorites have included:
-jeans from Hudson, Kut from the Kloth, and Rock & Republic
-kids' clothes from Mini Boden, Tea, Zutano, Matilda Jane, and Hanna Andersson
-sporty apparel from Lucy
-New with tags stuff from Lacoste, Lands' End, Talbot's, and Boden

I'm focused mostly on clothes, but I also snagged a super cute toddler-sized chair the other day. And I've been thrifting books for the little guy like crazy. It feels so good to be back in my element!

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And the thrift gods smiled

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One of the "tips" I give to people who ask for advice on successful thrifting is this:

If you find one or two nice things in the size you're looking for, that could be a fluke. If you find three or more, you should consider it a set and keep digging.

Which is to say, typically people donate to thrift stores in bulk. You don't take just a few items, especially with kids' stuff--you take a big bag or a lot of big bags. And if you just brought in one or two things that are in the size/style I am after, chances are you brought more.

The other day, I had one of the most awesome thrift trips I've ever had, and it absolutely demonstrated this principle. I am after things for the next size/season for the baby (who really is a toddler these days...), so I started in the baby section. I immediately pulled a couple of 3T sized Tea Collection items off the rack. Oooh, I thought, this has potential. But alas, the rest of the baby section was bereft of anything that caught my fancy. Still, something told me there was more where the two shirts from Tea came from, and my store is really not good about having a clear line between what they consider "baby" clothes and what they consider "kids'" clothes, so I went to have a look at the big kids' racks.

And then it happened.

Y'all, my kid has a whole new wardrobe, from brands I'd never shell out for new. In his next three sizes. After I realized I'd found a goldmine, I sifted through all of the kids' clothes, then waiting as they brought out new racks. Someone had clearly dropped off their very well dressed young boy's wardrobe, and damned if I didn't leave that store with the majority of it.

From Jacadi, three polos, a button-down, a long-sleeved tee, a pair of long pants, and a pair of short pants:
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From Mini Boden, five short-sleeved tees, three long-sleeved tees, a polo, a sweater, and a pair of shorts:
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From Tea Collection, one short-sleeved tee, two long-sleeved tees, one polo, three button downs (one new with tags), one sweatshirt, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and one jacket:
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Then, there were the one or two-offs. A Hatley raincoat. A new with tags Papo de Anjo button down shirt. An Olive Juice hoodie. Three Splendid polos. A pair of shorts and a t-shirt from Appaman. It just went on and on. In total, I got over 50 pieces!

This trip completely re-energized me for thrifting, and I once again really want to be able to say that all, or at least the great majority, of the clothes I buy for both myself and my son are secondhand. Has anybody out there done that--used clothes only? How did it go for you?

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That's an awesome haul! I haven't been successful with individual thrift stores, but I do get the bulk of both kids' wardrobes at two different semi-annual consignment sales. I'll supplement here and there with new (sale) items, but most everything comes from these sales. My fave find from the last sale was a set of adorable Hanna Anderson PJs for $2.00. They were practically brand new. It's also fab for holiday and party outfits. I have a girl who really just wants "dresses that spread out" which can be pricey. I want her to be able to play and rough house and still wear her froofy frocks, so shopping used makes me happy to send her off to play in the mud in her "spread out" dresses.

I think the worst ratio we've gotten down to was 65% hand me downs/thrifted and 35% new - because for older kids, finding thrifted pants that still have KNEES is really hard. And because... we didn't plan well for cold weather so we ended up buying hoodies at the store, he likes red so we got him some red shorts and sweatpants new, pajamas for cold weather are also tough to thrift, and a cute t-shirt always jumps out at me at Target dammit. Otherwise it would have been like 80%+ used clothes for him around here, we've been very fortunate and I did some "stock up" shopping a couple of years ago.

But the hand me downs and the stock-up items are starting to run out and we're going to need to buy more, so I'm trying to figure out how to make the time to do enough thrifting to stock up.

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Thrift Share Monday: Keedo & All-Clad

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Look at me, posting a Monday thrift share! It's actually my scores from last weekend, since I didn't thrift this weekend, but that's OK, right?

My thrift store has been reorganized and sometime during their reorganization they seem to have made the decision to start kind of sucking. Every time I've been since they moved things around has been disappointing. That said, I went with the purpose of dropping things off last weekend, and couldn't help but have a look around, and I came home with some excellent scores!

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The t-shirt is a NWT Keedo t-shirt for the baby. It's i his current size, so it will probably fit for all of about 5 minutes, but it was too cute to pass up, advertising, as it does, that a blue whale is the size of three elephants. I can't find this exact shirt for sale anywhere, but similar shirts on the Keedo website are around $15-$20 (and super cute--look at this one!) I believe I paid $3.

The real find, though, is the two pans. They are an All-Clad 3-Quart Stainless Steel Saute Pan (currently $120 on Amazon) and an All-Clad Stainless 10-Inch Fry Pan (currently $90 on Amazon). Both are in near-perfect, barely-if-ever used shape. They were marked $8 each, but I had a 25% off voucher, so they were $6 each. Mark was thrilled when I brought them home. We have a similar All-Clad skillet in the next size down that he always says is a wee bit too small, and a similar, non-All Clad saute pan that is Mark's most used pan and one he always wishes he had two of. Perfect!

How about you? Done any thrifting lately? Any great finds?

(I don't see a current Thrift Share Monday post at Apron Thrift Girl, so no link up, but go check her out anyway!)

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I refuse to spend big money on overpriced yoga wear, but I love to thrift it. I found a Lucy jacket for $5 and a top priced $3 - and it was on half price. Regular price total of $160 for $6.50. Woo hoo.

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In which I (fail to) become an extreme couponer

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So I decided recently that I needed a new hobby. And that hobby should be extreme couponing. I watched the show, I loved the idea of saving big money on things we use, and I loved even more the idea of getting high dollar things that I could donate for pennies. How hard could it be, right?

Turns out, it's kinda harder than it looks. I read some blogs about it, but didn't finish most of them, as I got bogged down in following a breadcrumb trail to search for stores that double and considering my position on the various coupons: buying and selling? debates. That or I just got bored. Too much instruction! I decided. I'll just figure it out myself. Print out a bunch of coupons, carry them around until the items they're for are on sale, then reap big savings!

I printed out coupons. I learned about catalinas and how you can go back and re-print once, but typically not more than that. I wrote to some companies and gushed about how much I love their stuff, then waited for the envelopes to come rolling in (one baby food company gave me three coupons for $.55 off, one gave me a half dozen free item coupons--guess which one of those I now prefer?) I liked the Facebook page and printed off some more. I filed them in a little accordion file. And then I went to Target.

At the end of my first big coupon-fueled shopping trip, I had spent $79.14 and saved $43.46. Not great, but not the huge savings I'd been hoping for. For my $80, I got:

-a pair of Merona shorts for myself
-a Merona tank top for myself
-two boxes of Kashi granola bars
-a box of Market Pantry cookies
-a tube of Gud lotion
-a box of generic Claritin
-ten Plum Organics baby food items
-two eight roll packages of store brand paper towels
-three tubes of Burt's Bees Lip Shine

Not quite the haul I'd hoped. So back to the drawing board, I guess? Are any of you great couponers? Give me some tips!

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The whole thing scares me, honestly. I can barely remember to go shopping, let alone develop this extensive understanding of how to play the game so you can come home with free razor blades for a lifetime. Though that would be nice, as razor blades are freakin' expensive.

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Thrift Finds, 2/15/13

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Last time I went thrifting, I forgot to photograph all of my purchases before they made their way out into my house. However, I did manage to snap photos of my two favorite scores, so I thought I'd share them with you today.

First, an addition to my collection of Mexican animal pottery. Or, really, several additions:

Apparently, an owl collector just made a bit deposit at my thrift store, because there were literally hundreds of owl figurines, pictures, etc. I managed to resist all of them except for these guys. I love these guys. The littlest ones are only about an inch tall.

And then these. Does anybody know what where these alphabet cards are from? There aren't any markings or labels on them. I absolutely LOVE them. They'll be decor in Buzzy's room, once I figure out the best way to display them. I can't decide which I like best. Urchin? Iguana? Marmot? Hedgehog? It's so hard!

Some details:
How about you? Done any thrifting lately?

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Oh my goodness, those little owls! I love them. And those alphabet cards are great- the red fox is my favorite.

Love both of these!!!!!! Great finds, Grace!

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Thrift Finds, 2/6/13

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A friend recently told me that the posts in which I show you all my thrifted finds are her favorite part of my blog. I was surprised--I always feel self-indulgent blogging about stuff I've thrifted and am afraid it's boring. I guess at the end of the day, though, blogging is a fairly self-indulgent venture all the way around, and at least I know one person likes my thrifted finds posts, so I may as well keep doing them. Besides, telling y'all what I come home with keeps me honest about buying worthless junk!

My last thrift trip had about a $20 price tag, all told. It also had a bit of an aeronautical theme. I bought:



A baby bathtub has been on my list for a few weeks now, but all of the ones I've seen have been kinda skanky. This froggy model, from Safety 1st, looked to be unused! It was, I think, $5.



These two new-in-package acrylic frames are intended for a future craft project, so you'll be seeing them again. They were $.69 each.



These are both new-in-package additions to the big bin of potential gifts I keep around, which has been getting pretty empty lately. The Klutz Build-a-Book kits just tickled me--how cute are they? They were, I think, $1.91 each. The Make-Your-Own-Kaleidoscope kit is also awesome, and was, I think, $2.50. I am considering opening and checking it out, though, as I think I could put together a really cool DIY version, too.



This partial set of Tupperware Toys kids' play dishes is one of my favorite finds in a long while. This isn't the 1979 version I had, but it's the next one out, I believe, from the mid-80s. It's also in perfect shape, and all it is missing to be complete is the cake plate and the pitcher! I can't wait for Buzzy to be old enough to play with these! I believe the set was $1.99.

And then we come to the promised airplanes. I came home with two airplane related purchases, and one of them is another total favorite thrift find.






The top picture is a yard of fabric I got for $2.99, intended for a weekly picture backdrop for Buzzy. It's cute, right? I love how it says "Amerika." The bottom picture, however, is my big score. How much do you love those vintage planes? It's a ROLL OF WALLPAPER. I haven't decided what I am going to do with it yet, other than possibly line Buzzy's dresser drawers, but I adore it. It was $1.91.

And that brings us to the end of this week's installment! See anything you like? Anything you can't believe I bought? What have you thrifted lately?

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I also enjoy your thrift posts. I've only been thrifting for about a year, and primarily those have been clothes for myself. But looking ahead, I'd like to thrift supplies for future kids so I find your posts inspiring. :)

I recently found a bunch of photo frames for a friend's wedding, cool and needed storage for Lem's doll clothes in a tin lunch pail and a cute purple flower pot. I'm looking for vintagey/old train stuff though and haven't been finding much there :(

I am agreed with Angie we both enjoyed allot in seeing your post so many things you added here in your blog. Its a good thing in free time we all must have to try this.

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OK, so I have huge love for the blog Young House Love. I can't quite explain why--I'm not personally into home decor, particularly, though I wish I were. But I love their aesthetic and I really enjoy the quality of their blog posts. That said, it fosters a very deep sense of inadequacy in me.

Until now. When I read about the Young House Love (Completely Unofficial) Macklemore Thrift Shop Challenge, I was very excited. I may not be a decorator, but I AM a thrifter! 

The rules were pretty simple:

Step #1. Go to a thrift shop with - just as the chorus of the song says - "$20 in your pocket" and take a picture.

Step #2. Spend that $20 any way you'd like and photograph your spoils.

Step #3. Find one item (or more) referenced in the song and snap a pic.

So, of course, I only managed to do #2. I forgot to get cash, so no picture of me holding my $20 bill at the store. I did take a picture of the sign, though, so I get some credit, right?

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I have a general list of stuff I am looking for at the thrift store in my head all the time, but some trips, I am also after specific things. This time, though, I went with the idea that I could buy anything that appealed, so long as it didn't come to more than $20. And I did it!

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So what did I get?

For $3.93, an addition to my wooden animal collection! I'm honestly not 100% sure what it is--a porpoise, maybe?

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Your YHL challenge finds are great!

I totally relate to not wanting to have tons of kids toys waiting to be used.

Just after Christmas we found a wooden busy bead activity box for $1 where er completed the Macklemore challenge!

Hey, I did the YHL challenge too and got almost the exact same toy for me son! Crazy :)

You got some great finds. I love your wooden bead mover (sorry not sure what they're called, wonky abacus?)

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Thrift Finds, 1/14/13

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Now that the holidays are over and there is little chance of my accidentally revealing anything here that is going to end up a gift, I can return to sharing my thrifted scores with you all! My thrift trips these days are usually smaller than this one, but once in a while I have a day where things just seem to jump into my cart. This was one of those:

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Not the most exciting thing in the world, but I was glad to snag this set of six Glasslock containers with lids. We're always in dire need of proper sized leftover containers with fitting lids, and these are particularly nice ones. Nothing wrong with a little practical thrifting to start things off, right?

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This Farberware storage grater was another item thrifted to fill a pretty immediate need. We have a microplane grater (two of them, actually, don't ask me why), but no regular box grater, and the microplane is just not meant for things like shredding cheddar for nachos. This one is.

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This box of Medela Quick Clean bags, for microwave sterilization of pump parts, is another super practical buy. I see these fairly often at the thrift store, unopened, and I always grab them. They're super convenient to use, and for $1 or so, they're a great buy--much better than the $8 or so I'd be paying for them elsewhere.

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I have no idea if Stretch Genie actually works. However, I have a couple of dozen pairs of shoes that are now, post-pregnancy, just a wee bit too small to be comfortable, so I figure, for the thrift store cost of trying this out, maybe I'll get a miracle?

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This Sassy baby book is a purchase I probably shouldn't have made--how many more toys does a baby who just had Christmas really need? However, I've been wanting to get him one of these, since he seems to like to try to turn pages, and this one was definitely the right price, and new in the package, so I don't feel too bad about it.

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How cute is this little Japanese bento box? It's practical, too--I've been on the hunt for something with small compartments and a lid, for freezing single servings of homemade baby food purees, and this is the perfect size!

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Do we need a new container for flour? Well, strictly speaking, no. But this one is so vintage cool and in such perfect shape! There is no way I was leaving it there. I can re-purpose the current flour-holding jar into something else, I'm sure.

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Oh look, something I actually went to the thrift store intending to buy! Each of these pieces of heavy weight decorator's type fabric is about a yard, so they're perfect to serve as backdrops for Buzzy's weekly photo shoots (we've been using blankets, but we're just about out of those). And fabric is expensive, so thrifting it is definitely my best option when I'm just going to be using it once and then recycling it or giving it away.

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This one is a totally frivolous buy, but isn't it pretty? I've always wanted a perfume atomizer, and I love the look of this porcelain one. I almost put it back, after chiding myself about buying things I like but don't need, but then I noticed the "Hand Painted in West Germany" sticker on it, as well as the $3 original price tag from a Washington D.C. department store that hasn't existed for at least 20 years. When I thought it was new, I could resist it, but being an antique pushed it over the edge for me.

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These guys were a no brainer! I collect carved wooden animals, and all three of these little wee ones were in a bag together, for I think $2. No way they weren't coming to live with the rest of the collection. I think they're the smallest members, but they're mighty!

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This heavy wrought iron bunny hook set is either old or just made to look old, but either way, isn't it adorable? I think it's going to go in the baby's room.

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Finally, my favorite find of the day and one of my favorites of recent years--this is a full set of brand new hand bells. There is no information of any kind in the case, so I haven't the foggiest idea who makes them, but how great are they? Pending her permission, they're going to go live in the toddler playland that is my friend E's house--she has 1.5 year old twins, and these seem like a great gift for them.

All in all, a very good thrifting day. I love these types of trips, where I get an assortment of stuff that is both fun and useful. The baby was happy for part of the time and slept for part of the time, so I had a couple of hours to walk around the store and check things out, and I love the collection of stuff I came home with. It's days like this, more than the occasional great big store, that make me such an avid thrifter.

What have you thrifted lately? Anything practical? Anything completely impractical?

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Awesome finds, Grace! Love the bunny hooks. Reminds me of a pewter bunny platter that I picked up at an ECEC garage sale for $2 that still had a Nordies tag on it. I would LOVE to go thrift shopping with you; maybe during your next visit? My schedule doesn't leave much time for thrift shopping but I never miss the annual Coburg Antique Fair. Currently shopping for an antique/old dining room table. Any suggestions on where to look?

Oh my goodness I LOVE that rooster fabric! If you're not keeping it after B's photo shoot I'll buy it from you!
Kat (sophiekat)

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Musings on thrifting for a baby

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It has come to my attention that I haven't been posting much about thrifting lately. It's not that I'm not doing any thrifting--I tend to hit the thrift store once a week, either with Buzzy in tow or when he's at home with Dad. My recent luck there has been fair-to-middling, I'd say; no amazing scores, but never coming home totally empty-handed. I've also be thrifting for far different things that I used to--namely, things for the baby.

Buzzy always needs clothes, so I always look at those, and I've gotten a few great things and a lot of useful things for $.99-$4.99/item. My best score on that front was an 18-month size Land's End parka, barely worn, found a mere week or so before we headed to the chilly climes of Minnesota for Christmas. Felt good about that one. I scored a $.99 Hanna Anderssen striped onesie that I love. I've snagged a number of pairs of Gymboree pants, which are my preferred brand right now, because they seem to fit him just right. Clothes are a fairly easy one, because I can tell at a glance what kind of shape something is in, and they are completely washable.

Toys are a bit harder. At this stage, when everything goes immediately into Buzzy's mouth, I'm only really willing to thrift toys for him if they are new-in-packaging, or can be completely washed. Basically, that means only hard surface stuff, like the vintage-esque Fisher Price pull phone I brought home recently. I so thought that thing was circa early 80s--it looked just like the one we had when I was a kid!--but the bottom says copyright 2009! I had no idea they still made those. Anyway, something like that can be fully submerged and soaked in hot water and vinegar, then scrubbed, so I feel OK about giving it to him. Things that can't get that treatment, though, I can't quite do yet. Hopefully I'll get over that when he's a bit bigger, as the toy section has always seemed to me to be one of a thrift store's high points.

Another easy-thrift, I've found, is baby linens--receiving blankets, crib sheets, etc. We don't actually need any of those things, having been very generously handed down and gifted a big stockpile, but I did buy him one crib sheet that I just couldn't resist--it has squirrels on it and was just too cute not to bring home. And again, completely hot water washable, so my germ fears are abated. I've also been checking out the fabric section of my thrift store lately, since we are just about out of blankets to use as backdrops for Buzzy's weekly photos, and I'm going to start needing to buy pieces of fabric. WAY cheaper to do that at the thrift store.

I've been thrifting a surprising number of super practical baby-related things new in the package. For example, I've found multiple unopened packages of breast milk storage freezer bags, and a number of unopened packages of pacifiers and bottle nipples. Those kinds of things can be very expensive. For example, a 50-ct box of milk storage bags is around $12 on Amazon, and they're generally $.99 at the thrift store, so if they are brands/varieties I think we'll use, I always grab them when I see them.

The biggest category of successful baby thrifting I've done, though, is for larger items. On my last trip, I came home with a little rocker type chair with a tray for Buzzy. Perfect for him right now, as he is loving sitting up, but isn't quite able to do it on his own yet, but also something that he'll only really use for a few weeks, so I wouldn't want to pay full price for it (probably around $50 for the kind I got). All of the fabric parts are removable/machine washable, so it was easy to clean up so Buzzy could use it, too. As I've mentioned before, Buzzy's pack n' play, changing table, and dresser are also thrifted. The pack n' play was a bit of a challenge, since is is fabric and can't be machine washed, but I satisfied myself with hot water, vinegar, and sunlight, and it has worked out great. Right now, I am on the lookout for three new higher ticket items--a foldable stroller (for the day, coming soon, when the bucket car seat caddy won't work anymore), an exersaucer/walker, and a high chair (I saw one of these for $5 the other day and I wish I'd bought it).

It has been interesting to me, as someone who has for more than a decade been willing to thrift just about anything I want or need, to realize that I do have different "rules" or "standards" when it comes to my baby. Would I thrift shoes for myself? Absolutely, if I could find any. For him? Probably not, unless they were new. Have I ever worried about the possible issues with thrifted furniture in the past? Honestly, no. Am I worried now? Absolutely. Which is probably good, honestly--I've been lucky so far, but that luck would have to run out eventually, and I'd end up with bed bugs or lice or scabies or something. Nothing like looking out for someone else to make you realize the ways in which you've neglected to look out for yourself.

How about you, fellow thrifters. Do you thrift a lot for your kids? What won't you buy? Any tips to make sure thrifted items are really clean before you give them to your baby? Leave a comment!

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I will thrift anything for my son except for car seats (of course). Toys don't bother me. Hard things can be wiped with bleach wipes and soft things can be machine washed. I am very non-paranoid about germs though--I expect most people disagree with me there!

I'm actually a huge fan of thrifting baby shoes - at this age, they put so little wear on them, and outgrow them so fast, it's hard to even tell whether they're brand new or not. I felt like such a sucker the day I bought some cheapie new shoes for $10 at a regular store, then went to the thrift store and found 4 pairs of very nice, like-new, name brand (Robeez, the cutest Converse you've ever seen) shoes that added up to $10 all together. I think I'm going to hold off on buying any new non-thrifted shoes till my kids are actually walking.

I bought our oldest his first non-thrifted shoes a year ago when his feet had outgrown the kids' sizes. Because they lose those things. They wear the shit out of them dragging them on the ground. They get muddy and trashed, and I'd much rather it was a $3 pair of thrifted See Kai Runs than a $42 pair.

As far as toys go, if he were in day care, would he be allowed to play with the toys? Probably, right? So I'm not seeing the difference. Worried about bed bugs? Throw it in the dryer on high. Worried about lice? Ditto. But sooner or later, that naive little immune system will be challenged, and trust me -- better now than in fourth grade.

You have different rules for yourself vs. Buzzy because you don't chew on furniture or suck on your clothes, probably. (Or at least I've never seen you do that.)

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Thrift Share Monday, I've missed you!

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While it may not actually have been a thousand years since I've thrifted, it kinda feels that way. When I was sick and exhausted for the first four or five months of pregnancy, thrifting was the last thing that appealed to me. However, in recent weeks, I've been back in the saddle, as it were, so I'm thrilled to hook back up with Thrift Share Monday this week and show you some finds from a couple of weeks ago!

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My haul, from bottom left: two tank tops, both long enough for maternity wear; a vintage cake holder, a large Italian-made glass jar, a Mexican style pottery cat, a small carved wooden bear, and two sets of silicone egg poachers.

You may think this is a strange assortment, and I accept that, but I promise there is a reason behind each thing! The tank tops are self-explanatory--I'm growing out of everything and long-length tanks are one of my lifesavers. The big glass jar was a godsend, as I've been eating a metric ton of granola lately, and haven't had anything nice to put it in after I make it (you can actually see a weekly batch on the counter behind my thrift finds in that first photo). The egg poachers are these, and they were a gift for Mark, who found them as thrilling as only he would. But the other finds are the ones I'm really excited about...

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These two little guys represent additions to my two most favorite thrifted collections. The cat is a new member of my Mexican style pottery collection, which all grew out of my thrifting this really cool owl way back when. The owl has since been joined by a duck, a fish, some other sort of a bird, and now this adorable cat. I just love the style in which these are painted. The bear is a member of an even older collection, began when I found a carved wooden pig at the thrift store and could not put it down. The big has two hippo buddies, two dolphin buddies, a crane friend, and now a small bear to play with. And you begin to see how the combination of thrifter and collector can get dangerous...

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The hard-to-photograph cake plate is, however, my favorite find from this trip. I've wanted one of these for a long, long time. I love cake plates in general, and have a couple of glass ones, but these mid-century aluminum versions have always been my favorite, and this is the first one I've ever spotted in a thrift store. No, it's not worth anything, and yes, I could have just purchased one from Etsy for not a whole lot more than I paid for this one (it was overpriced at my thrift store), but it's a thrifting bucket list kind of item and I was stoked to bring it home.

Ah, that felt good! I doubt I'll be a weekly Thrift Share Monday contributor again anytime soon, but I do hope to make sporadic appearances now that I'm back on my game. I've missed it!

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I ADORE that cake plate. Great finds!

My mother in law runs a thrift shop and I love much awesome stuff I have stumbled upon in her shop. Stuff she forgot that she even had.

Love the owl and I'd really like to see a picture of the fish to see if it's like one I have! Great cake holder also...it's so nice to find something you've wanted for a long time!

I love the cake plate thing. I have a round one, but I've never seen a square one before. I thought I was the only one who had a thifting bucket list. Mine keeps growing though!

Wdlcome back! I love how the cake holder says CAKE just to be clear. Heh.

I understand the pregnant not wanting to thrift thing. I had the same feeling during the first trimester Barfy days...

OMG that cake holder. I have been looking for a good cake tray forever but THAT is out of this world. Total score!

That is a cute cake plate! I love thrift stores, so much to look at. :)

http://www.simplybeautifulfurniture.com/

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I haven't been doing a lot of thrifting lately--time has been extremely short. And when I do thrift, I tend towards the practical. Yesterday wasn't really an exception on that count--my biggest finds were a pair of Not Your Daughter jeans and two pairs of Loft slacks. However, I also snagged a couple of slightly more interesting vintage things:

Buch Belgium casserole

Buch Belgium casserole

This casserole dish is marked Boch Made in Belgium at the bottom, and I believe it is circa mid-late 60s. I found similar dishes online, but not in this pattern. Anybody recognize it?

Wooden spool thread

I cannot resist wooden spools of thread. I don't sew. I have absolutely no use for them, and yet, they call to me. This new-in-package set of Belding Corticelli Poly-Bond Bel-Waxed sewing thread is probably my best wooden spool find ever. Again, I think late 60s's-early 70s? The boxes are marked with the original price--30 cents each!

Been thrifting recently? What have you found?

Hooking up with Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl!

11 Comments

There's something about wooden spools that I can't resist either! Great find! And I love that casserole...the print on the side is so pretty.

My favorite pair of jeans are my not your daughters jeans! Great find as well!

i don't sew..but i love wooden spools too! they don't even have to have thread!

I'm joining the crowed - I love wooden spools! Not a sewer either. I think the root of my love for them is they remind me of my grandmother.

I love your wooden spools and I think your casserole is Boch Rambouillet.

I have a few cups from that pattern--little four ounce demitasse cups. I pickrd them up at a st vinnies in Oregon, where I live. They have this bizarre selection of poor quality semi antique furniture and housewares from england, as well as local castoffs. When I find something really cool, it's often imported.

I just picked up a tea set of Boch Rambouillet in this pattern. I haven't been able to track down more precisely when they were produced... yet. Replacement dishes for this pattern seem to be pretty easy to find online, but every time I see something in the pattern it is a new kind of dish. I think I'm missing some parts of the tea set, but I don't seem to be missing any individuals of the components I have so that's a plus.

Dear Grace,

You suck.

Signed,
Jealous of your awesome wooden spool collection. ;)

P.S. Once you have kids about 4 or 5, you will find tons of uses for all those spools. That's why I collect them now while Charley is still nursing. I only have THREE YEARS to amass a large collection!

I'm jealous of the wooden spools too, but I would actually use the thread for sewing!

Great finds!

Wow, I can't decide if that dish is ugly or cool looking. I really can't. The wooden spools are neat though. I have a bunch left over from my mom.

(Not sure if I should add that this is for contest entry, but I will anyway.)

The casserole is in the Boch Rambouillet pattern and was produced in La Louviere Belgium probably in 1966, for their 125th anniversary. In the late 50's and 60' they've produced a lot in the same sort of colours and patterns, there's Noix, Rambouillet, Argenteuil, Bernadette, In the mood, Corfou and Kimono, and then one other sort which I don't know the name of and is my favorite.

I'm looking for the original price of Boch in the 60's, if anyone knows anything that could help me, that would be great! (I'm doing a school work on it)

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Thrift Share Monday: on the way to Etsy

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I haven't posted many Thrift Share Mondays recently, because I haven't been doing a lot of interesting thrifting! I have been trying to get some of my thrifted stockpile sold or given away, though, which is always an arduous process. I photographed a few things last night to put up on Etsy (hopefully today...), so I thought I'd show you those.

David Douglas carafe
This David Douglas carafe is, by my best guess, from the 60s. Anybody know anything else about it? Looks like it should have come with a warmer, but I didn't find it that way.

Cathay platter and bowls
I think I've shown you this Taylorstone Cathay set before--it's a small platter and five shallow bowls (I think they were marketed as "berry bowls"). I love this pattern so much. It is, as far as I know, a 50s/60s pattern.

Pyrex Butterprint Cinderella bowl set
This is a great set--three mint condition Pyrex Cinderella bowls in the Butterprint pattern. I actually bought all three at separate locations and separate times, but they are all similarly unused looking. Pyrex started making this pattern in 1957, but I'm not sure how long they manufactured it for.

Pyrex Old Orchard mixing bowl set
This is Pyrex set in less stellar condition. It's the Old Orchard pattern, and the bowls, particularly the mid-sized one, have visible scratches/wear around their bottoms. I couldn't resist them, though, because they were so familiar to my late 70s/early 80s childhood self. I think my stepmother may have had this actual set, or maybe fridgies in this print? At any rate, they made me nostalgic.

Pyrex atomic carafe
This carafe is also Pyrex, and I think it's again from the early 60s. It's probably my current favorite piece--I just love the shape of it.

I am realizing that thrifting dishes for profit is just not a niche I am going to succeed in, so I'm desperately trying to stop buying more stuff than I can use or store. It's so difficult, though! These pieces are so gorgeous, and so full of history. I hate leaving them on the shelf.

Don't forget to head over to Apron Thrift Girl and check out everyone else's Thrift Share Monday posts!

5 Comments

Those items are gorgeous!!

I really like Pyrex and use it all the time, though I'm being more careful not to put it in the dishwasher since it seems to make it dull. Good luck with etsy. I have two shops and have just re-opened them after over a year being closed. You're right ... it's arduous to get things listed ans sold.
~Lynn

I love that Pyrex carafe! Really nice find!

Oooh full set of Butterprints, they look like they're in such great condition too!

I have a pyrex 4 cup server just like the one in the picture with an original card in it showing the price at $1.59.

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Thrift Share Monday, from the archives

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I did a ton of thrifting this weekend, but I haven't photographed anything yet, so I don't have any new booty to share. Rather than sit this Thrift Share Monday out, though, I decided to show you a few previously-thrifed items that haven't yet made it to my Etsy store. I am hoping you all can give me some advice as to whether or not they are worth listing. Sound good?

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This is one of those nostalgia purchases I probably should have left at the store. It's a circa-1960s Fisher Price Family Farm. The barn itself is in pretty good shape, but the animals/people the original set came with aren't all here. Still worth trying to sell?

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I love this little toy so much! It has a name and "Made in Russia" written on the bottom. The chickens are attached to strings, which are all attached to a wooden ball, so you can bounce it or swing it around and change the speed and cadence at which they peck. Anybody got any idea what it actually is? I'm guessing it's just so tourist souvenir type thing, but I love it anyway.

Maine cookbook, 1967

This is a Maine promotional cookbook, I think, complete in its original mailer box, from 1967. It's one of those things I have no actual use for, but I just couldn't leave in the store. Sellable, you think?

Leonard Silver fruit basket

The tag on this silver fruit basket says "Leonard," but that's all I know about it. Anybody seen one like it? I am not sure it's vintage--it may just have that sort look about it. I haven't yet decided if it's a keeper or a seller.

Jackson Custom China Paul McCobb Falls Creek pattern--13 saucers

These 13 Jackson Custom China Paul McCobb Falls Creek pattern saucers definitely fall under the "why the heck did I buy that?" heading. I don't remember buying them, or what I was thinking when I did. Does anybody see any reason they shouldn't go in my out box?

American Tempo Flatware cocktail forks--16

I believe these individually plastic wrapped cocktail forks, from American Tempo Flatware, are mid-century. However, I have no idea who would want 16 mid-century cocktail forks. Should I try to sell them as a lot? Break them into two sets of 8? Four sets of 4? The mind boggles.

There are tons more, of course. I have a whole room full of stuff that I am not precisely sure why I bought or what I intend to do with. But this is a start. Please, advise me!

For more thrifted finds, head over to Apron Thrift Girl to check out the links!

7 Comments

I had that very same playset as a kid!

My grandma has a very similar silver basket, though I've never seen it used for fruit - only lined with a napkin and filled with rolls for Thanksgiving.

I think the Fisher Price is the most resalable of the items shown here. I might ditch the building and just sell the little people (ebay!)

Just FYI, dishware is heavy, breakable, hard to pack. Was that a 99-cent set or $9.90? Either way, as you said, why the heck? I don't buy dishes any more, having decided not to risk giving my kids lead contaminated food, and that resale is too darn hard.

For the forks, check out Replacements.com. They do buy some china patterns and vintage utensils. When I got 8 pieces of STERLING SILVER at a yard sale for $2, I took them right to Replacements for a fast buck. Just FYI, purchase prices are less than 20% of their resale prices. Many china patterns they do not purchase,especially more common pieces.

One more thing - if you can find a GOOD consignment store in your area, specializing in Vintage, then resale becomes so much simpler.


A tiny piece of unsolicited advice. SKIP VINTAGE COOKBOOKS! Here is why:
http://www.amazon.com/All-Maine-Cooking-Ruth-Wiggin/dp/0892720956/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306157251&sr=8-1

Focus on the 1-cent part. Amazon sales rank is 1,142,667, which means it sits on your shelf waiting to be bought for 1-cent.

Great finds! I love the chickens...it's a "pecking hen" swing toy, a really popular traditional Russian plaything for children. They've been made for centuries, and are often hand carved and almost always hand painted. :)

um, grace? I'LL BUY THE BARN & PEOPLE. emery would LOVE it!

Aw - I loved my Fisher Price barn when I was a little girl. That will definitely sell!

Love the barn. I had it as a child and so did everyone else -- very popular indeed! I would think it would sell, but no expertise here.

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Thrift Share Monday: gettin' my Etsy going

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In an effort to curb the amount of cash I am spending at the thrift store, I put myself on a two-week thrifting hiatus and instead focused on getting some of my former finds listed in my long-neglected Etsy shop. In lieu of anything newly thrifted this week, I thought I'd give you a peek as to what is in the shop:


I love this little Catherineholm pan, but I'll never use it, so it's for sale!


These three Pyrex Cinderella bowls, in the Shenandoah pattern, are a new find and one I'm sad to part with, but I just don't have room.


I scored these two Cinderella bowls, in the very popular Spring Blossom pattern, at the same store as the set above! It was Pyrex day.


I've been hanging on to this Horizon Blue Pyrex casserole dish with rack for ages, but it never gets used at my house, so I figured I ought to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it more.


This promotional Golden Hearts pattern Pyrex casserole dish is not the most colorful I've thrifted, but I think it's the most rare. If what I read is correct, it was only produced in one year (1958)!


These West End bean pots from the 1950s are fairly common, but I love them just the same. The design on them just makes me happy. This one is in exceptionally good condition.


This Karoff wooden appetizers tray is probably my favorite of the things I have listed right now. It's just so cute and kitschy!


Finally, I couldn't resist listing these crazy 1970s decals. I have no idea what one would use them for, but how cute is that pineapple?

Part of my recent listing binge is a decluttering effort, but part is financial--I really want to buy an iPad, and have promised myself only to do it if I can use "found" money I wasn't otherwise expecting. I'm about halfway there, but need to make the rest of the cash so now seemed liked a good time to clear out some of my treasures! Anything calling your name?

Don't forget to head over to Apron Thrift Girl and see what everybody else is sharing for Thrift Share Monday!

2 Comments

I added the set of 3 bowls to my favorites so I don't forget where they are! I'll be back in a couple of weeks when I get paid again. :) Now to find some lids for them...

Pyrex, pyrex, pyrex!! Love it. And the Catherine Holm is gorgeous. I like the demon decal the best.

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Thrift Share Monday: 100% thrifted outfit

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The majority of my recent thrifting has been for clothes, for myself and various friends. While this is necessary, and fun, it's not the most exciting thing to share for Thrift Share Monday. So, today I decided to take a page from Kris' challenge (in which I could not get it together to participate last month) and show you a 100% thrifted outfit.

The sticking point here is shoes--it is damn difficult to thrift size 12 women's shoes, at least if you aren't into orthopedics. But I remembered I had this odd vintage pair that I ran into at a tiny thrift store at least a year ago and have never worn, and lo, an outfit was born!

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I'm wearing:
-Ann Taylor Loft gray pants
-Ann Taylor black shell
-Ann Taylor Loft short-sleeved teal cardigan
-vintage Nordstrom red square-heel flats
-Echo red, white, teal, and blue floral silk scarf

All thrifted!

I don't know if this outfit falls under $20 total or not, since some of the elements are from a long time ago. My guess is it goes a bit over, because the tag was still on the shoes and I apparently paid $8 for them. Still, I feel a little bit triumphant! Plus, I think it's awfully cute.

For more Thrift Share Monday goodness, head over to Apron Thrift Girl!

6 Comments

I love those shoes!

GREAT outfit!! I am trying to go the entire year without buying retail clothing. So far so good (except for a pair of running shoes and a Superbowl shirt)

Great outfit! Even if the whole outfit was just over $20 it is still less than a shirt at forever 21... you just can't beat that!

Such a cute outfit & loving the red shoes! Congrats on the fun finds!
Cheers ~ Lara

That is awesome! Great outfit.

OMG, this is cute cute cute! I love thrift stores, but I've been hugely underwhelmed by both the quality and the prices of the thrift stores (mostly Goodwill) where I live now. (Now, where I'm from? FABULOUS stuff, and prices so low, you could limbo under them.) Totes jealous of your adorable finds!

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Thrift Share Monday

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I've been failing at thrifting clothes for myself recently. It took me a while to realize why, but I finally figured it out--I've gotten picky. It's not the style or brand or color that I've gotten pickier about, but the fit. Once upon a time, anything that wasn't too small for me was something I considered fitting. Now, as I pay more attention to how I dress, I'm realizing that a lot of what I had been wearing was simply too big. There shouldn't be 18s and 2Xs in my closet. This reduces the already small number of items to choose from a given thrift store.

Still, I was able to find a few things this weekend:

IMG_4303
A new looking pair of black Eddie Bauer pants in the elusive 14 Tall, a new looking sleeveless black shirt from Ann Taylor, and a new with tags coral top from Lizwear (I just liked the color, mainly).

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A vintage half-slip and vintage pettipants.

My more exciting finds, though, weren't for my closet. My friend E. is about to have twins, and I am finally allowing myself to thrift for them, now that they are viable. I may have gone a little bit overboard for one trip:

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Two new with tags onesies.

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A matched set of new without tags onesies.

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Four gently used sleepers, all from Gymboree.

The final thing I bought falls into the "I don't know what these are, but they seem cool" category:

IMG_4302
Turns out these are cross-stitch kits from the Danish company Eva Rosenstand. The writing is all non-English (Danish, German, and French, I think), so I can't identify what patterns the kits are actually for, but they seem really cool. Anybody know anything about them?

4 Comments

Eva Rosenstand needlework kits could be for cross-stitch, crewelwork, needlepoint - I'd have to see the contents to help!

Are they just paper patterns or do they include fabric and threads too?

if any of those cross stitch kits are silhouettes I will pay you monies for them. or black and whites like these: http://www.sewinspiring.co.uk/acatalog/eva_rosenstand_cross_stitch_kits.html

Each kit should have a number on the pattern sheet. If you would list those, I might be able to find them in the older catalogs.

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Thrift Share Monday

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After a couple of busy non-thrifting weeks, I finally got back to the thrift store this past weekend! It wasn't a best ever trip, but it was satisfying. I was looking for some jeans for friends' kids, and did well on that count, which makes me happy, since I love picking up useful things for people. I struck out on clothes for myself, but that's OK. And I also brought home the following:

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A counties of Ireland tea towel (I am getting huge into the funky tea towels) and a Jamie Oliver cookbook for M. (who is reading it as I type this)

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An etching by Alec Stern. I've never heard of the artist, but I very much liked the etching, and it was unlike anything else we have AND came matted!

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This funny little bowl--does anybody remember what these are called? I remember when everybody's mom had them, but I don't see them much anymore.

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A (sadly incomplete, but still cool) set of vintage (70s?) mini forks in their box.

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A new in package set of cool block-printed notecards.

Also, something I thrifted a while ago but I don't know if showed you. This piece is in great condition and it is, I think, a limited edition or promotional piece from Pyrex. I don't know what I am going to do with it. Anybody collect these?

IMG_4280

Don't forget to hit Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl to see what treasures others have found this week!

5 Comments

The splatter color bowl reminds of Rachael Ray's "garbage bowl"

But I think it's this http://www.collectoronline.com/9707/PictPage/3923836857.html which is probably what the garbage bowl is modeled after.

You found some neat stuff! Thanks for coming over to my blog. It was my first Cathrineholm Lotus so I was extremely excited! I am a convert as well... now if only I could find some Finel as well!

Love all your great finds especially that bowl. I use to have several in different sizes and colors. Mine were TexasWare. They're really collectible too. Thanks for sharing your goodies.

I've also seen those called confetti bowls. Usually by TexasWare. We have one like that from hubby's grandma..but mine's really faded so probably wouldn't sell very well.

love the block print note cards - i'm a sucker for stationery items. i always buy my birthday and other occasion cards thrift. the pyrex is really cool too - i've never seen that patter before. great stuff! - great blog too!

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Incredible vintage stuff Tuesday

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So I missed Thrift Share Monday yesterday. I have a good excuse, though. I was in New Jersey, attending the funeral mass for Mark's grandmother. She was an incredible woman who had a wonderful, full life and died at 96. This post isn't about her, though--though I was blessed to have known her, she's not my story to tell.

This day-late post is about her house and the treasures within.

I've heard stories about this house for years. It's a connected duplex, with two discrete halves connected on both the first and second floors by hallways, with a shared basement and attic. Though I've never seen a set up quite like it, apparently it wasn't all that uncommon back in the day. For many years (from the late 1940s or early 1950s, I believe), the house was occupied on one side by Mark's grandmother, her husband, and her four children (one of whom is Mark's mother) and on the other by Mark's great aunt (his grandmother's sister) and her husband. Through all that time, there have been almost no changes to the house or its contents. Mark's aunt, who is a bit older than his mom (maybe about 70?) told me she remembered the house being re-sided when she was a little girl, and a roof being put on when she was a young adult. The washing machine and dryer in the basement, as well as the boiler, were replaced in the 80s. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.

Which is to say, it's pretty much my idea of heaven. Mark knew it would be, and prepared me, but I still ran around exclaiming over everything I saw in a way that was probably not quite polite, given the occasion. There wasn't a piece or two of nice mid-century (and older) furniture--there were rooms full. Every totchke, every glass or cup in the kitchen, every square of wall paper--it was all perfectly, resplendently, old. There was almost nothing there I wouldn't have picked up and considered buying in a thrift store.

But there were two highlights.

First, Mark and his dad took me down to the basement to show me where Mark and his brother and their cousins had spent so much time as children. It was a basement--work bench, laundry, etc. Except that every thing on the work bench, every can of varnish or paint, had a pristine mid-century label. As I was oohing and awing over them, I almost missed the chairs.

The room was more or less lined with perfectly lovely mid-century lounge chairs. Several wooden framed ones with cushions, and two absolutely perfect turquoise naugahyde ones. I gasped, ran over to them, and began to pet them lovingly while Mark and his dad laughed at me.

Then, later, Mark took me up to show me the "kids' bedrooms" in the attic. On an exposed shelf, I noticed a row of pristine vintage hat boxes. When I mentioned them to Mark, he grabbed one and looked inside.

They were full of perfect condition vintage hats, circa 1930s-1960s. There were probably six hats, wrapped in tissue paper, in each of the four or five boxes. Church hats. Party hats. Feathered headbands. Mark's great-aunt was a jazz singer. She kept costume hats. And they are all in perfect shape.

I so nearly cried. Just touching this amazing collection was a privilege. Being able to see these things in their native environment, before they are separated and given away, or sold, or (please God no) thrown away? An unbelievable joy.

This, my friends, is why I thrift. To be able to see these things that have lived such long lives, and occasionally to bring them home with me. But seeing them like this, as they were used in the lives of people I know, is so much more amazing. I am so honored to have been invited to take a peek.

6 Comments

While your squeals of delight may not have seemed appropriate for the occasion, I can imagine that Mark's grandmother would've been happy that you loved her home and things - just another way of celebrating her life. I'm sorry for your loss.

Wow! What an amazing story. I would have loved to be there! Are there photos? So sorry for your loss!

I agree with the first commenter. She probably would have loved your appreciation for her cherished belongings. My next door neighbor's mother died a month ago today, and she is having to clear out her mom's thing today (along with her sisters), because their stepdad wants it all gone. It is so sad that no one has room for it all, and a lifetime of collectibles will just be split up and mostly sold off. I am glad that you are someone who will treasure and maintain whatever does end up being passed on to you. Cheers! (I came across you through the link on Apron Thrift Girl's blog.)

My semi-grandparents (long story but the cousins of my grandfather - all grandparents died before I was born) had the most amazing collection of furniture, art, decor, randomness. My semi-grandma was very proud of her collection, bought with their paltry funds as newlyweds, inherited from relatives, or scored by her yard sale/picking ways (she was the original American Picker). She used to say she buys for her own pleasure, but the pleasure of her relatives hoping they will find them just as lovely. She used to say things like, "When I die, be sure to get this, it's worth money and I got it by..." and then would tell some amazing story.

I think the joy you had would bring joy to his grandmother. I know it would have to mine!

Grace, I'm so sorry for your and Mark's loss. Though it does sound like Grandma had a full and wonderful life! I am rooting for you to get the chairs, because A. You will love them. Not just "Oh I think they are FABulous' but will actively, happily, appreciatively, love them. B. I am a chair JUNKIE. Can't get enough of them, astounded by the number of mid-century chairs I find at my local Goodwill for 10 bucks. I'm not kidding. I am running out of room for them, and I'm considering letting go of the Danish modern settee I have because I can't find cushions for it and apparently, I'm never going to make them, despite having bought upholstery fabric for the very purpose. SIGH. I digress. C. Because they are a part of your and Mark's history, and what even better treasure to have than things that have a story. D. CHAIRS. Yum. It would be a Good Thing for them to come to you, and I hope that whoever is to make the decision will realize you are the best person to get them, for all the reasons stated above, and more.

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Thrift Share Monday

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Thrift Share Monday may not be happening today, since Selena doesn't have a post up yet. But I thrifted a bit yesterday, so I am going to share my finds anyway.

First, early in the week, I got a beautiful Banana Republic silk blouse and a great cropped short-sleeved jacket from Tahiri from the little Goodwill near work. I forgot to photograph them before I stuck them in with the dry cleaning. $4.99 for the blouse and $6.99 for the jacket, I think.

Now, at Unique yesterday:

A set of eight of these small, silver-rimmed glasses. No identifying marks. Anybody know who made them/when?
small silver rimmed glasses

Two small, oddly organically shaped wooden bowls.
wooden bowls

A small, perfect condition orange dish from Luzifer Bauscher Weiden, Bavaria.
orange German dish

Two of these super cute linen tea towels. There are no labels/markings on them--anybody seen them before? My guess is that they are not vintage, but repro of some sort, but I really have no idea.
tea towel

I also bought a silk skirt from Ann Taylor and a pair of tweedy cropped pants by Calvin Klein, neither of which fit in a way that is at all flattering. Such are the risks of thrifting in a store with no dressing rooms!

What'd you get??

3 Comments

Those owl tea towels are adorable...I've never seen anything like them!

That tea towel would be so cute made into a pillow!!

Just found your blog - nice work!

Great finds by the way - especially that orange Bavarian bowl!!!

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Thrift Share Monday: solve my mysteries?

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I thrifted like a mad woman last Monday--President's Day meant 50% off at Unique and Value Village. And I got a ton of great stuff, some of which I'm going to have to show you later. Why? Because this post is dedicated to my current crop of mystery items--things I think are really cool, but can't exactly figure out. If you have ANY idea what/where/when any of these things are, please comment!

Mystery tin trays
I am honestly not sure why I picked up this set of six tin trays--I think I mostly liked their shape and saw craft potential. The design on them is odd, too, though, and they look old. They are unmarked on the back.

Mysterious frog pot
I bought this little froggie pot because it's adorable, but I am hard pressed to figure out from when or where it came. It looks handpainted, but I don't think it is, because there is a stamp on the bottom:

Frog pot bottom

Anybody know?

Orange mystery pitcher--made in Czechoslovakia
This orange ceramic pitcher or carafe is my new favorite find, but I have no idea what era it's from. The bottom says "Made in Czechoslovakia," but that's the only clue I have.

Arabia Finnish jam pot
I know this little jam pot is from Finnish company Arabia, and I've found tons of other pots from the company online, but none with this single orange design. My guess is that this one is more recent than the multi-fruit ones I'm finding elsewhere, but I'm not sure. Anybody a collector?

American Tempo Flatware cocktail forks--16
Because they are marked, I know these are cocktail forks from American Tempo flatware. What I can't figure out is when they were made, or why in the world I'd see a bag of 16 of them, in individual plastic bags. They're adorable, if completely impractical, and I just couldn't help but pick them up for $1.

Vintage travel clothesline

Travel clothesline underside
I absolutely adore this little clothesline kit, which I actually thrifted months ago but just re-found in my house. The looks of it have me guessing it's mid-century, but I have no idea if that's actually the case and haven't be able to find anything similar online.

Finally, a repeat of last week's mystery, just in case. Anybody see a casserole dish like this one?

Unmarked covered casserole dish

Happy Thrift Share Monday! Don't forget to head over to Apron Thrift Girland check out all the other great things people are sharing today!

10 Comments

Whoahhh... Good finds!

There's a pdf linked here to figure out the age of the Arabia of Finland piece:
http://www.finnishdesign.com/finnish-design-companies/iittala/arabia

Love that covered casserole. I'm sorry I don't know anything about it, but your first photo shows 6 canape trays, which were very "must have" in the fifties when everyone entertained with cocktail parties and bridge parties. Place your little cocktail napkin on top, load it up with a few appetizers, and you can walk around with your nibbles and your martini with a twist at the same time. Hope you remembered to change out of your cotton shirtwaist dress and into your two-piece cocktail sheath first (with little matching pillbox hat if you have any style at all)!

The frog planter is cute! I have a consignment shop in Deale, MD and I just found your blog while doing a search on "Misty Morn" by Shafford. We just got in dinnerware and cups from this same set #and have had plates before#. I don't know much about them but, yes, they are hand painted because every dish and cup is different. I LOVE the character of the pieces. Thanks for sharing.

I think that covered casserole dish looks like Royal China. We have one that looks similar in Blue.

A little late responding but wanted to provide info on some of your photos. The name of the pattern for the Royal China bread plates and desert bowl is called “Royal Maytime.” This pattern of teal flowers with gray leaves and stems was produced in the late 1950s. I think pieces were offered to Colgate/Palmolive dealers and individual pieces came in boxes of Colgate – Palmolive detergent. They’re hard to come by for those collecting this pattern. The gold round covered vegetable bowl is also made by Royal China on their Futura line. The pattern is called Star Glow, and though the solid color does not scream the atomic age, the star pattern on other pieces does. Danyel’s blue version of the covered vegetable bowl is called Blue Heaven, with other pieces having blue geometric patterns. Star Glow was very popular, and more than 40 different items were available in this pattern, including glassware and pie plates, ashtrays, pitchers and casserole bowls. The main pieces are not hard to find at thrift shops or online. The Cathay pieces are wonderful, and not to difficult to find more of this Taylorstone ware pattern.

Did you ever find any information on the orange Czech pitcher? I have one just like it, except mine has a saucer that sits underneath the pitcher.

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Thrift Share Monday: A new obsession

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Since I've been reading folks' Thrift Share Monday posts, I've been enthralled with the cool dishes and ceramics some of y'all find. So the last couple of weeks, I've been trying my hand at finding cool dishes to thrift. I know I am going to have to sell some/all of them--otherwise, they're just gonna stack up--but I'm having a wonderful time finding them and learning about them, and so far I think my eye is pretty good.

I've found:

TS&T Cathay berry bowls and platter
Some TS&T Cathay pattern berry bowls and a matching platter

Corning divided plates
Some adorable Corningwear divided plates

Hartstone Farmer's Market salad plates
Some Hartstone Farmer's Market salad plates--these are already on Ebay

Catherine Holm Lotus small pan
A small Catherine Holm Lotus pan (I was really stoked about this)

Royal Stetson Royal Maytime china--1 dessert bowl, 3 bread plates, c. 1950s
Three bread plates and a dessert bowl from Royal Stetson Royal Maytime China--I'm not sure on the pattern, does anybody know?

Homer Laughlin/Syracuse--6 dessert bowls
A stack of Homer Laughlin dessert bowls in a pattern I can't identify--anybody know?

Nelson Lebo salad plate
An extremely odd Nelson Lebo salad plate

Steubenville Pottery Co. Fairlane pattern small platter
A Fairlane pattern small platter from Steubenville Pottery Company

Winfield China Oats pattern small platter
A small platter in Winfield China's Oats pattern

E.O. Brody Co. green glass bowl
A green glass bowl from E.O. Brody Company

Turi Design Market cereal bowl and small plate (Norway)
An absolutely adorable small plate and bowl from Norwegian Turi Design, in the Market pattern

I've also come across a few things that don't have any identifying marks on them to help me figure out where/when they came from, but which seemed interesting or familiar to me in some way. I'm hoping if I post them here, y'all can help me figure out if they are contemporary or vintage, and who made them:

blue teapot
I loved the shape and color of this cobalt blue tea pot.

Unmarked covered casserole dish
Neither the shape nor the color of this small covered casserole dish strikes me as contemporary. To my untrained eye, it looks mid-century. Thoughts?

Owl front
I have no idea what to think about this odd little owl, other than that he's adorable. Is he someone's ceramics class project, or does he have brethern out there somewhere? He's signed ("MEHED"), but a Google search of the name didn't tell me anything.

Here's his back and his signature:
Owl backOwl signature

Not a bad collection, right? I'm hoping to add to it today--50% off at Value Village/Unique!

Don't forget to check out all the other great finds from the folks at Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday!

8 Comments

I LOVE the dishes in the first photo.

I am 98% sure your cute little owl is Mexican and was signed by the artist. This may help with your search. I have a couple of animals in this style (a turtle and bird), but the owl is great!

Wow, those are great finds. That Cathrineholm pot is amazing! It's funny that you found two great Norweigan items - the Lotte plates and the Cathrineholm!

I have a little owl with almost the same exact shape and little face as yours. My grandfather bought mine in Mexico when I was a little girl.

I had never heard of thrift share Monday. Now I will have to join in! You have some fabulous finds here. I love the green bowl & the casserole.

I just found two of these little guys in my thrift shop yesterday. They are handcrafted in Mexico. Mine both say "KE" somewhere on them which looks like the artist's signature and there is also a handwritten "Mexico" on them. That signature up there looks exactly the same and it says "Mexico", so perhaps there is a KE, too? Because mine looks just like yours. :)

i have an owl almost identical to this guy. he was hand painted in mexico - a friend brought him to me as a souvenir :)

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Thrift Share Monday: my little local Goodwill

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As I mentioned last week, I decided I needed to give more time to my small, local thrift stores. For me, that translates into a weekly trip to the Goodwill near my office--I pass it every day, so it's certainly worth stopping in now and again. Sometimes I come away empty handed, but this week I came home with:

Yogurt maker
A new in the box yogurt maker, marked $5.99, but half-off.

Books
Four interesting books, either for me or to sell, for $1 or less each.

The Quilting Bee doll kit
For $.56, a doll kit from Fredericskburg, Texas. I have a couple of other kits from this same maker that I thrifted while we lived in Austin. I can't leave them alone, and I don't know what I plan to do with them.

Scarves
Four scarves--can't get enough scarves! The gray is a long, wide gray jersey scarf from the Gap, the purple is a smaller jersey scarf from American Apparel, the purple paisley is a vintage (I think) silk scarf, and the blue and yellow and white is a very large poly-blend scarf. I think these were $1.99 each.

Shirts from Gap, Izod, Audrey Talbott
Three button down shirts! The lavender floral is brand new and from the Gap, the pink oxford is Izod, and the striped is a gorgeous high-end silk shirt from AudreyTalbott. I believe these were $2.99 each.

Black Ann Taylor tee-shirt; teal merino Banana Republic cardigan
A new black Ann Taylor tee-shirt (which is much needed, since my "good" black t-shirt has become a scroungy black tee-shirt of late) and a gorgeous extra fine merino wool cardigan from Banana Republic. The tee-shirt was $1.99 and the sweater was $4.99, I think.

Not bad for a store I'd written off, right?

2 Comments

Great clothing finds - and that silk scarf looks great. Will you wear it or turn it into something? I keep planning to make cushions out of mine, another thing I've yet to get around to!

That's pretty cool to find a yogurt maker. I've tried doing it the 'wait and see what happens way', but I've heard good things about yogurt makers. Love all the scarves, too!

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Thrift Share Monday: Vintage?

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As I read more and more thrifting blogs, I'm finding myself envious of other people's finds. It took me a bit to figure out where that envy was coming from. At first, I thought it was about the financial pay off--other people are thrifting things and selling them for cash money! But in reality, it's not--I tried and failed the thrift-for-cash experiment. I decided it was definitely possible to turn a profit, but not possible for me to turn a large enough profit to make the work worthwhile. So it's not the money. What, then? I realized, after a while, that it's the interesting stuff. I've been trying to thrift practically for so long--either things I need or things my friends or family need--that I'd forgotten how to thrift just for things that seemed interesting. Especially things that seemed interesting and OLD.

So, this weekend I decided to do two things. First, I would focus on my little local thrift shops, rather than making the drive to the big shop I usually frequent. Secondly, I'd let myself buy stuff just because it was cool, but only if it was old.

And I loved it!

There is a little thrift shop in the small town/suburb in which I live which has really limited hours. It's open I think 10-2 three days a week. It's also really crowed. So I almost never go there. But I set off on Saturday to see what joys awaited me.

The first thing I picked up were two sheets of wrapping paper, for $.10 each. One of them s shown below. They aren't vintage, but I liked them, and I knew I was going to be covering some boxes soonish for a project, so they wouldn't sit around too long.

Wrapping paper detail

The next thing I picked up were a few vintage (or maybe not, not sure) notions. These I really can't justify, but they were only a couple of bucks.

Notions

And included these, one of the weirdest things I've seen lately. Doll face beads?

Doll head beads

The final things, though, are the ones I want to ask all you wise folks about. I bought this platter and sugar bowl just because I loved them, but I'm fairly sure they're vintage. There are no identifying marks on them--no brand, no location where they were made, nothing.

Platter and sugar bowl

And a detail of the design:

Mystery plate detail

Any ideas? The sugar bowl is pale blue. I don't even know where to start looking with no names or dates to start with.

I also went to another local thrift store (the Goodwill near where I work) and had a great day, but I don't think I'm going to be doing any more thrifting in the next week, so I'll save those finds for next Monday!

3 Comments

Hello! The dishes look VERY similar to Taylor Smith Taylor's Forever Yours Boutonniere pattern. The large aqua blue flowers look identical but that pattern doesn't have the small pink and blue flowers behind them. You can search Google and find a ton of examples or here's Replacements.com's website:
http://www.replacements.com/webquote/TSTBOU.htm#726531

Hopefully that's a start on your pattern search. Good luck finding it!

I'm glad to hear you put the joy back in your thrifting adventures. I thrift & resell, but your right...the joy doesn't come from the $$$, it comes from the fun & funky finds we happen across while out on the hunt! Cheers ~ Lara

Hello. I agree with Lara, thrifting is fun. This response is a bit late but wanted to common on the nice find. The oval serving platter and sugar bowl are vintage (mid to late 1950s) Taylor Smith & Taylor. The shape is on TS&T Versatile line, and was available with or without platinum trim. I own two vegetable bowls in this pattern, one with and without trim. Replacements.com has pieces available: TST393 for no trim; TST117 with trim. Pieces show up periodically on ebay, etsy and robbinsnest.com as well.

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Thrift Share Monday: Back in the saddle

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I haven't participated in Thrift Share Monday for quite a while. The reason? Not because I haven't been thrifting--I have--but more because I haven't been excited about what I've been thrifting. Several months ago, I set some pretty strict (for me) guidelines for myself re: what I was and was not allowed to thrift. Basically, I decided I was only allowed to thrift things with an immediate use, either for myself or for a specific other person. No thrifting just because things are cool. And these rules were necessary--I was thrifting at least once a week, and there was simply too much stuff coming in and too much money going out. But thrifting with rules? Not as much fun as thrifting without.

Now that I'm back to have only occasional opportunities to hit the thrift stores, I decided to lighten up on the rules and allow myself a few purchases that might not have an immediate or obvious use. A huge cleaning and decluttering spree that has left me with a ton of storage space also made this possible.

And y'all? Thrifting is fun again.

A few recent finds:

keens.jpg
These nearly perfect condition Keens were marked $9.99, and shoes were half off the day I bought them, so I brought them home for $5. They are a size too small for me, but that makes the the perfect size for my mom, who has back and foot issues and can always use high quality shoes. Score! I can't find this specific style online, but similar ones seem to retail for $70-$90.

karoff tray.jpg
As per the tag, this is a Karoff Cotillion Swinging Serving tray. I can't find one like it anywhere online, but a fancier version showed upon A La Modern, which says it's from the 50s or 60s. I doubt it's worth much, but I may put it up on Etsy and see. Or I may keep it, because really, isn't it awesome?

korres set.jpg
I'm guessing this Korres set was somebody's Christmas present, and it clearly hadn't even been opened when I picked it up for $2 at the thrift store. Korres is one of my favorite beauty brands, and this set retails for $30-$40, depending on where you buy it.

diapers and stuff.jpg
One of my thrift wish list items for this year is awesome baby stuff for my friend E., who is due with twins this spring. On my last thrift trip, I managed to nap three excellent used (if used at all) condition Kushies Ultra-Washable Diapers, a pair of new with tags Gymboree baby socks, and a new with tags Gap baby hat!

pen.jpg
This pen came into my life at just the right time. It's a Vera Bradley pen, new in the box, retail price $19. And I have a new coworker who collects cool pens, who has been invaluable to me in my first few weeks of work! A perfect thank you gift for her, for $.99!

This isn't all I've thrifted recently--I've had good luck with paper products (and I have such a soft spot for stationary) and small home goods, as well. Clothes have been more difficult, but that, I think, is largely seasonal. All in all, I'm really glad to be back in the saddle with regards to thrifting. Now to keep it under control...

3 Comments

Really great finds, and yes - I'd probably keep the karoff tray. Or maybe not. Cool find though either way!

I LOVE the Karoff tray. I would love to find one of those. I have a book about Atomic Kitchens and they have a tray like that in there. If you sale it...will it be sold in an etsy shop? I am VERY interested.

O, how I can relate to this post. i also had to set rules to thrift by for myself.

Great finds and well thought out!

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Thrift Wish List 2011

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I've been adding some new thrifting blogs to my reader, and one I am really enjoying is Angela's Austin-based Bounty Huntress. The other day, Angela posted her Top 10 wished for thrifted items for 2011. So I thought I'd do the same.

My Top 10 Most Wished For Thrift Finds for 2011
1. A mid-century lounge chair (like this one).
2. The perfect tea pot. It must be just the right size, just the right color, and have interior straining capacity. I've bought lots of almosts, but I want the perfect one.
3. A vintage multi-tiered tea cake stand.
4. Lots of new, high-quality baby stuff for a friend expecting twins this spring.
5. A classic leather Coach bag, preferably blue.
6. Vintage wooden Weeble people.
7. A handmade quilt in usable condition.
8. A Moka pot.
9. Wooden animals to go with my existing pig and rhino.
10. Reasonable quality faux pearls in many sizes.

What would you love to find resale this year?

1 Comments

i got a quilt on shopgoodwill i loooooove.

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Thrift Share Monday: Reigning it in

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It's true. I'm reigning in my thifting. Trying to get it under control. In reality, I spend way more money thrifting that I likely would if I just bought things new--that's how much stuff I buy that I don't need. And it's not sustainable, or admirable, or financially wise. So I've made some new rules for myself when it comes to hitting the thrift stores.
1. Only buy things for yourself/your household if you see an immediate use for them. Picture where they are going to go and what they're going to be used for, and if you come up blank, but it back.
2. Only buy gifts if you have a specific idea of who it will be for and for what occasion. No "that'll make a good gift for somebody."
3. Only buy things for other people if they have been specifically requested. No "I bet X would love this!"
4. Do not thrift to re-sell.

Obviously, these rules wouldn't work for everyone. A lot of people come out ahead when thrifting for re-sale. Those people are for more disciplined and knowledgeable than I am.

Yesterday, on my birthday, I set out to Unique with my new rules in mind, but no budget. The first thing I picked up was something that I originally would have thought I was buying for re-sale. Knowing that was against my rules now, I picked it up thinking, "hey, I know X would love this." And she would. But was it something I would actually get together and send at an appropriate time for a gift? I wasn't sure. I put it down. A few minutes, I returned and picked it up again, having realized that I actually wanted to keep it for myself, and could see where it would sit in my house quite clearly. As a bonus I knew Mark would love it. So I put it in the cart.

The mystery object? This perfect condition, vintage-with-original-tags dark green faux croc ice bucket. I paid $5.49 for it and really, how could I possibly have left it there?

ice bucket

As I browsed through the rest of the housewares, I picked things up and then returned them to the shelves several times, realizing each time that the item was not one I needed or really even wanted to have in my house. Then, in the toy section, I spotted another interesting object, this one a clear gift. It met my rules easily--I knew exactly who it would be for, and when. For $1.91, there was no need for much argument and it went into the cart. (And won't be revealed here, in case the intended recipient is a reader.)

After I'd been through all of the housewares and books, I hit clothes. I usually start with skirts and dresses, since those are what I'd most like to find. I found a gorgeous 100% silk dress with the Macy's tag advertising the $109 price tag still on it, but it fit me like a nightshirt, so it was a no-go. Great find for someone else. The skirts all seemed to be bum-length. Undeterred, I decided to have a gander at the jeans, since fall is on its way and I could really use some new ones. I was rewarded--a pair of Eddie Bauer curvy fit trouser jeans, dark wash, barely worn (if worn at all), in a size 14L. These are jeans I was 95% sure would fit, I loved the style and the wash, and they aren't a duplicate of something else I already have. Easy peasy. $6.49, and I was right, they fit perfectly.

Lastly, as always, I looked at the jewelry case. I've been really into thrifted jewelry lately. I've been really into jewelry in general, actually, and thrifting is my favorite way to get it--less expensive and more interesting stuff. Still, I was trying to be prudent, so I knew I'd have to be a bit picky. With a bit of birthday luck, though, I spotted something I'd had my eye out for--a multi-strand seed bead necklace. I've been admiring these for a bit, and had decided I really wanted a vintage one. The one I got? In perfect condition, from the late 70s or early 80s (I think), and baby pink. Perfect. At $9.99 it was a bit more than I usually pay for thrifted jewelry, but totally worth it.

jeans and necklace.jpg

I left the store having spent only about $26, which is, I am embarrassed to tell you, quite a bit lower than my usual thrift store bill. I bought only things I am 100% sure I like and have a use for, and I feel great about my purchases. Hopefully every trip under the new rules will be as great as this one!

Don't forget to go to Apron Thrift Girl and Southern Hospitality and see all the rest of the participants in Thrift Share Monday!

4 Comments

Great rules-I'm going to try them the next time I go to the store.

this may not be helpful, but if you find something you think i'd like, i'll pay you for it. and you can txt me with it! :)

Lately I've been trying to reign it in as well. I have so much stuff & nowhere to put it. Great post--well timed for me. Thanks!

Good rules, and how wonderful that putting them into action still yielded a great shopping trip!

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Thrift Share Monday

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Yay! Thrift Share Monday!

I actually went a bit outside my comfort zone this weekend and visited a bunch of new stores. Unfortunately, they were almost uniformly terrible, and the bulk of my great finds came, as always, from Unique. I did buy some glassware at smaller shops, though.

My favorite finds:

From Unique, a great coffee table book about Georgia O'Keefe (it includes her art and her letters, which is really fascinating) and a cool blue glass pitcher. I thought the pitcher was mid-century to begin with, but I think it's probably actually Ikea or similar. I believe both items were $4.94.


Also from Unique, a trio of graphic black-and-white print tops. The lefthand one is an empire cotton tank top from H&M, the middle is a great sort of floaty top with an asymetrical neckline from Loft, and the righthand is a basic kind of sleeveless top by I think Izod. I'm really into these sorts of prints right now. These were, I think, $3.99 each.


This trio is from two small thrift stores in Falls Church, Joseph's Closet and...something else. I absolutely love the hand blown amber glass pitcher, and I paid $12 for it, which is a lot for me. Mark says the bulb-bottomed amber glass vase looks 70s, but I don't care, because I love the shape and it was $5. The pottery vase is sadly mass-produced and not handmade, but Mark loves it, and it was only $3.


I can't resist the napkins! This set of 4 new ones was $2.99 at Unique.

My most practical find of the weekend, which I forgot to photograph, was a new in package set of four small, square white porcelain cereal bowls for $5. I've been looking for some small cereal bowls--we have only huge ones--and these are perfect.

1 Comments

O I like the napkins they would match my kitchen......want mail'm to you old pal in Utah? ;)

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Thrift Share Monday

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I haven't given up on 100 Days to a Happy Housewife--in fact, I'll have a post tomorrow detailing just why I've been absent for a few days--but for today, I just want to share my weekend thrifting finds. I actually didn't do much thrifting--just popped into my favorite store on my way back from Dim Sum yesterday, but I came out with a few things, so I thought I'd share.

thrifting 061309.JPG

The teal cami with the fancy trim is by Bamboo Traders, a company I'd never heard of before, but it's cute and long enough, so yay. The black one is a workout top from Lucy, something I can never have enough of. They were $4.99 each. The scarf has no labels on it, and I think it's poly-blend rather than silk, but I just love the pattern and color so much I had to buy it for $3.99. Look for it in a future Happy Houswife post, for sure.

How about you? Any great thrift finds this weekend?

1 Comments

got a bunch of random-ass books last weekend, including a trashy dutch mystery set in maine (??), but totally struck out on clothing. too bad...i was hopefully that the college kid exodus would improve the pickings.

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Thrift Share Monday

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Woohoo! I finally got it together to participate in Thrift Share Monday!

I didn't actually find anything spectacular, or spectacularly cheap, this week, but nevertheless, I will share my finds:


These three pairs of shorts are all for me. The blue ones are Adidas sports shorts, the other two are destructed Bermudas from Ann Taylor and dark wash Bermudas from Izod. I believe they were $4.99 each and they all fit! Since I'm so in love with Bermudas right now, I was happy to find them.


This dress didn't photograph well, but it's really cute on. It's by Alfani and I think it was $6.49.


This is a super cute faux wrap shirt from Ann Taylor. It's not right for this season, but I'll definitely wear it in the fall. It was $4.99.


This was my most fun find! A clearly handmade metal rooster sculpture. It's name is B.B. and it now lives among our plants.


I have no idea what my plan is for this wooden box, but it just seemed so handy. It was $1.91.


This is a set of Vera napkins. I love Vera napkins. Mark hates them, so we don't actually use them, but I keep collecting them anyway. They were $3.49 for four, and I don't think they've ever been used.


This was Mark's gift--a little kit to make three small wooden boats. He's enraptured with it. I think it was $.59 or something.

Like I said, nothing extraordinary, but a good day's thrifting. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to share next week.

3 Comments

My finds are never spectacular, but I like them anyway. Your thrift finds look great!

Hi Grace :)

I've been reading your adventure with housewifery from the beginning for two days and I can't wait to see what else you do.

Trust me, we ALL feel tired of cleaning everyday at some point, but eventually something snaps (like a visit from the in-laws LOL) that makes you get back to work.

I know you don't plan on doing this forever, but I'll bet that eventually you'll get in a habit to keep doing some of it. After all, there's nothing better than a clean house ;)

Thank you for commenting on my blog!

rue

I love the boat box kit, just the artwork on the box is inspiring!

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Thrift Share Monday

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button2.jpgI've been meaning to post about this, to tell you all about it, and to remind myself. One of my favorite bloggers, Apron Thrift Girl, has been hosting a ring called "Thrift Share Monday" for several months now. She and other thrifting bloggers share their weekend finds every Monday. It's totally worth checking out, and, if you are a thrifting blogger, participating in. I am going to try to start this Monday (assuming I thrift something this weekend). I'll put the button over on my sidebar to remind all of us!

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It's been brought to my attention that I never share my thrift scores with y'all anymore. Someone even asked me if I'd stopped thrifting. Yeah, and then I stopped breathing and then I stopped drinking coffee. The thrift store is my happy place--I go at least once a week. I just hadn't been posting about it, both from laziness/oversight and because I thought y'all might be bored.

If you are bored, you can tell me. Or, if you love it when I post my thrifted finds, tell me that too, OK? I'd like to know whether I should keep doing it or not. In the meantime, let's take a little breather from the Happy Housewife project so I can share the booty from my latest thrift trip:

bodum and riser
The other day, I dropped Mark's milk foamer thing, which I'd gotten him for Christmas, and broke it. He likes to make himself cappuccino-esque coffee drinks. I was happy to be able to replace it so quickly, with this cute little Bodum cappuccino set, featuring a smaller version of the same frother and an espresso sized French press. It's new in the box and was $3.93. I also bought a rise shelf for our messy spice cupboard, for $1.91.

napkins
I'm constantly adding to our cloth napkin collection, since it seems that every load of laundry turns up one that is too stained to use anymore. I especially like napkins like these, which are made of heavy-weight cotton so they don't wrinkle easily, and are muted and patterned enough in color to hide some staining. I was happy to pay $2.99 for four.

Pyrex pitcher
Though it falls squarely into the camp of "things I don't need," I couldn't resist this vintage Pyrex juice pitcher for $1.91.

jamie oliver book
Mark is a fan of Jamie Oliver, and I haven't brought him home a thrifted cookbook in quite a long time. We have a lot of Jamie's books already, but not this one, so I was happy to pay $4.94 for it.

gap shirt
This Gap tank top was $5.99, which is more than I'd usually want to pay for a thrifted tank, but I love this style, it's a great color, and I'm pretty sure it's new, though it doesn't have tags. Plus my tank top selection is pretty sad right now, being almost all too big or ratty. I'm sure I'll get lots of wear out of it.

lucy shirts
Since I've started working from home and exercising most every day, I wear a lot of exercise apparel. And I'll admit it--I like the higher end stuff a lot, especially Lucy. All of my Lucy stuff is thrifted, and I was thrilled to add these two work-out shirts to the mix for $6.99 each. Again, that may sound like a lot, but as expensive as these things are new ($40-$60), it's not that bad.

br shirt
The picture does not do this cool, drapey Banana Republic shirt justice. I love black shirts in general, and this one is both comfortable and attractive. An easy decision to buy it for $4.99.

purple shirt
Though I'd never heard of the brand, "To the Max," I loved the color and cut of this shirt, so I bought it for $4.99. Turns out it's a BCBG line.

hilfiger shirt
This Tommy Hilfiger shirt is actually one I looked at last time I was at the thrift store, didn't buy because I felt $9.99 was too much, then wished I'd bought later because I love the style and pattern. When I saw it was still there today, I swooped it up.

I feel a bit funny divulging the prices I paid for things, because I am almost sure that other thrifters would be scandalized at them. In a previous incarnation, I would have been. But everything is expensive here, even thrifted stuff. It's still cheaper than new, and I still feel better about buying it this way, even if the prices aren't what they used to be.

3 Comments

My grandparents have a juice jug just like that.

I enjoy your thrifting posts. I see them and wish that I put the effort into thrifting that you do because I agree it is best for our environment!

Please keep posting your thrifting finds! I love reading about them. Because sometimes I'll spot something I need and I'll think, "I never thought about looking at the thrift shop for it!"

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So, who wants to come shopping with me?

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Over the years, I've had a lot of people tell me they wish they could come thrifting with me. This makes me laugh, honestly, because I don't think thrifting with me is exactly a good time (though you'd have to ask The Princess, as she's been there and lived to tell the tale). It's an endurance sport, an all-day kinda process. That said, since the majority of the folks who say they wish they could come with me are too far away to suffer the actual sore feet and sugar crash that it would entail, it might be fun to take y'all on a trip virtually. So, today, that's what I did. I went on a typical Saturday shopping/thrifting mission, and I took photos and notes of what I was doing so I could come back and recount it all to you. Dig in, get something to drink, put up your feet, and let's go.

First thing first: what you wear on a thrifting trip is important. You've got to be comfortable. You also have to consider trying things on. In most cases, you're going to want to wear stuff you can easily get in and out of in a dressing room. Today, though, that isn't going to be enough, because they main store we're visiting doesn't have dressing rooms. So how do you buy clothes you can't try on? Well, the first thing is to be pretty sure about what will fit you--not your size so much as being able to just look at something and think it will or won't fit. This is a learned skill, for sure--I am pretty good at it because I've been doing it for a long time, but it's not a natural thing. If you've never tried to do it, I suggest pulling a few things that fit really well out of your closet and looking at them on the hanger. Just get a sense of what a garment that fits you looks like.

The other thing to do is to wear something that facilitates trying things on without a dressing room. At a thrift store with no dressing room, doing this isn't going to be strange. My go-to ensemble is leggings and a sweater dress with a tank top underneath. I forgot to take a picture, but that's exactly what I had on today.

12:12 PM: This is when we leave my house. I always try to leave early, but I never actually make it out on Saturday until noon or later. There is coffee to drink, an Internet to screw around on...just too much to do. As we back out of my garage, we notice that our neighbors have decorated their front yard with a dozen or so different sizes and shapes of plastic flamingos, and are playing in it with their grandchildren. Things like that don't usually happen in the suburbs. Has to be a good omen.

12:18 PM: We make our first stop, just up the road from my house, at Starbucks. I'd love to tell you that I fuel for my adventures at a local coffee shop, but the sad truth is that I don't have a local coffee shop. As in, I can't find one anywhere. So Starbucks it is. Mini mall Starbucks, no less.
And feel free to make fun of me for my order. It's a grande skinny two-pump three-shot vanilla latte. Yeah, I know. Pathetic. But in my defense, if I could trust the coffee to be good, I'd just have coffee. In Virginia, I cannot trust the coffee to be good. That little devil with it is a blueberry scone. 10 freaking points in that thing, and yet, so tasty. Eat up, you're going to need the energy.

12:42 PM: Everything in northern Virginia takes a long time to get to, so it'll be nearly a half an hour before we get to our next stop, even though it's less than 15 miles away. Don't worry, I'm a good driver. And we can listen to "This American Life" in the car. Our stop won't be a thrift store yet, sorry. Thing is, there are things I need that I can't thrift. Specifically, bras. And I have a gift card for T.J. Maxx/Marshall's. And they are on the way. So T.J. Maxx is the next place we pull in. I'll spend a half hour looking for bras (and a spring bag, and leggings) and then come out with a black sweater dress from the clearance rack. Oops.

1:18 PM: As luck would have it, there is a Marshall's just a few stores down from T.J. Maxx, and still on our way, so we'll have a quick stop there, too. I will take another half hour to look and I'll strike out completely. OK, I swear we're really on our way now.
1:53 PM: Almost two hours after leaving my house, we finally get to my new favorite thrift store, Unique. Unique is a big-ass thrift store. It's a bit terrifying, actually--you go through this odd marketplace full of knock-off designer bags and perfume and discount underwear to get to the actual thrift store part. As we go in, we'll notice the signs that list today's 50% off items. Not much of my interest--furniture, electronics, toys, and stuffed animals. Two weeks ago it was coats, scarfs, and boots, which is a much better deal. Still, something to keep in mind.

I've been asked if I have a method for going through a thrift store--if I always do it in the same order. I do have a method, but it changes depending on the store, my time frame, and if I am looking for anything specific. Basically, if I am in a hurry, I start with whatever I want to find most or whatever that store is most likely to have. If I am not in a hurry, I start with everything else and move to the sections that are most important/most likely to have good stuff. With some exceptions. Today, I am not in a hurry, so I'll start with the sections that are the least important to me/least likely to have stuff I want (housewares, toys, craft stuff, accessories) move on to the best sections, where I'll spend the most time (clothing), and end with a spin through the books (often time consuming, so I skip it if I don't have a lot of time), a look at furniture (want to do that last so you don't have to carry anything you decide you want around), and a glance at jewelry (since it's in a case at Unique you have to get it right before checking out).

IMG_1937There are several rows of housewares at Unique, but they only take me a few minutes to browse, since I'm not really looking for any of that type of stuff. The same is true of the purse and scarf sections--I haven't found these to be particularly strong areas at Unique, and today I don't see anything. Same with craft stuff--I pick up a few bags of yarn, but only see synthetics, and I hesitate for a moment over a cool blue-and-orange print piece of vintage fabric, but leave it when I notice it is only two yards.

The toys is a section I often skip completely, but since it's 50% off, I take a quick gander to see if anything grabs me. It's a pretty small section of the store at Unique, and often really picked over. Today, though, something jumps out. It's a plastic anatomical model. Not something I need, I suppose, but how freaking cool is that? Plus it's marked $1.91 and it's half-off. Yeah, I'll buy that for a dollar.

Next stop is baby clothes. I don't have a baby, it's true, but I have an ongoing list of my friends' kids' clothing sizes and what they are in need of. I love thrifting for baby clothes--the younger the better--they are cheap, they are super cute, and because they aren't for my kid and thus aren't "needed," I can afford to be super picky. Today, I scored two dresses (well, a dress and a dress/bloomer set) for an online friend's foster child.

Here I have to make a confession--as far as serious thrifters go, I am willing to pay a lot for thrifted items. A lot of people who thrift as much as I do are what I would consider pretty damn cheap. But when I thrift, I'm comparing the price on the item not to what I think it should be used (or garage sale prices), but to what it would be new, or at least new and on the clearance rack. I am blessed to be able to do that--it speaks to my privilege as someone who thrifts because she wants to and because she thinks it is the right thing to do politically, rather than from dire economic need. That caveat made, these dresses were not particularly expensive for what they are. The green outfit is an extremely, new-condition Gymboree set, and the lavender dress is from Kohl's Blueberi Boulevard line and is new with tags. They were $3.49 each.

The next section I hit is men's clothes, to look for stuff for Mark. My sojourn here is brief, as the only thing on his current "wish list" is a greatcoat, and it only takes me a minute to exhaust that section. Then I'm on to what I'm really here for: clothes for me!

I have a large wardrobe. Recently, I moved out of the master's closet Mark and I share and started to convert part of my office into a closet/dressing room. This move frees me from even pretending I am going to pare down clothes. I love clothes, and I like to have a lot to choose from. If the majority of what I have is thrifted, I feel very little guilt about obtaining it. And so, I thrift for clothes with a rather embarrassing free reign. Be forewarned.

The first section I hit is dresses. I am in a big dress phase right now. Finally having some options for tights and leggings that are long enough makes dresses a lot more wearable. In Unique's dress section, I find three frocks that I think will work. The left-hand one is a sort of Army green jersey dress from Kohl's Apt. 9 line. It's got cute waist detailing and is about knee-length, and I like the cut and probable comfort a lot. It's $6.49. The middle one is a shorter, dress with a similar cut, in red, from The Gap. It's probably too short to wear on its own, but will be fine with leggings. It's also $6.49. Finally, I spot a dress at the end of the rack, which someone has picked up and then discarded. The tags are completely cut out of it, so I have no idea about brand or size, but it's a teal blue shirt dress with a matching belt with little embroidered birds on it. So cute, and very retro feeling, if not actually vintage. It's $9.99. My finding this great dress speaks to an important thrifting tip, especially at big stores like this one--always pay attention to the "hot spots" where other people have discarded things. A lot of the nicer stuff will make its way there.

When I look for clothes at Unique, I look at everything in the large and extra large sections. This is because Unique seems to categorize extra large as beginning at size 18. I am usually a 14/16, so my clothes are in the large section. However, when things aren't numerically labeled, I'm usually an XL. Looking in both sections helps me not to miss anything.

Next, I hit up skirts. I'm not quite as into skirts as I am dresses, but I do like them a lot. Plus, I don't look at pants at Unique. Pants I really, really need to try on. And probably even if I could try them on, I wouldn't spend much time looking at them, because finding pants to fit me at a thrift store is pretty unlikely (only a few brands fit, and I need a long length, which isn't all that common). So I skip that section completely. I skip shoes, too--I wear a 12, it's just not likely to be there.

In the skirt section, however, I do well. I find a purple corduroy skirt from H&M for $4.99, a gorgeous lined wool brown Anne Klein skirt for $6.49, and a new with tags Jones New York skirt in a tan and white pattern for $9.99. I'm not 100% sure the shorter, pleated style of the Jones New York skirt is going to work, but I like the pattern and am always trying to broaden my horizons when I thrift for clothes, so I decide to take a chance.

Next, I hit sweaters. My current dress kick is accompanied by a cardigan kick, and I've done very well with cardigans at Unique. Today is no different. The cropped black and pink and white one is by Style & Co. (Macy's) and cost $3.99. The black one with the ruffled collar is much cuter on than photographed, cost $4.99, and is my beloved Ann Taylor. The chunky gray one is from The Limited and was $5.99.

This brings up another question folks ask me fairly regularly--do I look for specific labels when I thrift? Yes and no. There are a few labels I simply won't buy--WalMart's George comes to mind. And there are a couple that I don't necessarily seek out, but I do pay attention to when I see them, since they seem to work for me so often. Ann Taylor is one of those. I thrift a lot of Ann Taylor. Doing so wasn't originally an intentional decision, it just ends up that Ann Taylor makes a lot of stuff I like. (God, typing that sentence makes me feel old.)

After sweaters I moved to shirts. I've been trying to expand my blouses and non-jersey shirts lately. I don't generally thrift tee-shirts, because they always seem to be faded or shrunk or both--environmentally, I'd like to thrift them, but vanity wins out. Today, Unique's blouse section netted me a blouse and a short dress. The dress, at left, is Merona (Target) and I paid $9.99 for it, which is more than even I would usually pay for a used Target item. However, I really loved it, so I did it anyway. The blouse is cotton and in perfect shape, from Sonoma (Kohl's). It was $3.99.

Having completed my clothing rounds, I stopped by the books, but didn't see anything. Looked at the furniture, and briefly considered a desk chair for Mark, but didn't want to lug it out to the car and wasn't sure it was the style he wanted (it was marked $49.99, but was in great shape and was 50% off, so it would have been reasonable). Finally, I stopped at the jewelry counter. It irritates me that Unique has all their jewelry behind glass--it's a very clogged area and it takes forever to get someone to show you the stuff you want to see, plus I always feel stupid for looking at things and then not buying them. However, it's worth it--they have an excellent selection, including quite a bit of vintage stuff. Today I didn't see anything, though, so I hit the checkout and left.

3:34 PM: Back in the car post-Unique, I marvel at how quickly I got through the store, and decide that the afternoon is still young and we should head over to the next town over to check out the Innova Hospital thrift store. Someone told me that hospital thrift stores are the way to go out here--doctor's families donate all the best stuff. Since you are imaginary, you are agreeable, and off we go.

3:55 PM: Except that on the way to the other thrift store, I get sidetracked by my hunger and need for more caffeine. Chik Fil A! Doesn't take but a minute to buzz through the drive-thru for a Coke and some waffle fries! What would you like?

4:07 PM: When we finally get to the Innova store, it doesn't look like much. Small and crowded. The type of store I usually avoid out of a mixture of laziness and claustrophobia. Still, since we're here, might as well check it out. Doesn't take more than a few minutes. This type of store is too small to go through with a plan, I just look through the stuff at the tops of the piles. Turns out these particular doctors' families aren't all that generous. Most of what's here is total crap. But it's 25% off crap.

That said, I manage to score a really cute black Jones New York dress (which didn't photograph well at all--trust me, it's cute!) and a vintage half slip for a total of $8.66, so it wasn't a wasted trip. Plus the entire stop took sixteen minutes.

And we're off again!

4:32 PM: You may be pissed off by this point. I insist we stop at yet another T.J. Maxx so I can continue my bra-buying quest. Another half an hour search (because I can't look at just bras!), another strike out.

It's at this point, leaving T.J. Maxx, that I realize that if I don't get back to the dry cleaner (conveniently located next door to the Starbucks at which we began our day) by six, I can't pick up my huge armload of dry cleaning. Which I kinda need. So we're back on the road. And the traffic, as is the case at this time of day, even on Saturday, is intense. That's OK. We'll listen to NPR.

5:56 PM: Made it! I go pick up my dry-cleaning. Most of which is actually the product of previous weeks' trips to Unique.

6:06 PM: We return to my house. Neighbors still have the flamingo farm in their yard, but the kids are gone. And probably you run far, far away and refuse to ever go thrifting with me again.

6 Comments

Awesome! Thanks for the share!

You need to really think about steering this website into a serious authority in this niche. You obviously have a grasp handle of the areas all of us are browsing for on this blog anyways and you could potentially even earn a dollar or two from some ads. I would dive into following recent headlines and increasing the volume of blog posts you make and I bet you'd start earning some nice traffic soon. Just a thought, good luck in whatever you do!

Oh please, the last few times we went thrifting you were SO done before I was ready to go home. Of course part of that is you having to do the driving, I'm sure.

It sounds like it was a great thrifting day! And boy was I ready for the Chik-fil-a! :)

Hey, its JustEmily and OMG, I am totally going thrifting with you! And I live close enough that it could happen one day!! The only thing you did not mention is you would be required to provide me with a glass of wine at the end of the day :-p.

Hey - Where is Unique? I need to go thrifting with you! Starting with a coffee and a scone? I'm there! LOL

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We came, we saw, we thrifted

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First, sorry about that silent period. WINOW was down for several days due to technical issues, but we're back now and hopefully won't be down again (at least not for long).

But on to more important issues: I finally had a really really great thrift trip! My friends visited last week, and we took a mid-week trip to Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church (2956 Gallows Rd., open 10-8 Monday-Saturday and 11-6 Sunday). I've been to Unique twice before. The first time was a bust, the second I scored a nice haul of ramekins, napkins, and books. This time, though, was the mother lode.

lThe friends I was thrifting with did well too, and I promised I'd blog their finds as well. I don't remember what they paid, since I don't have their receipt, but what you see here is (clockwise from top left): a cool pair of black scrub pants with a scissors pocket (one friend is a doctor and she was jazzed about these); a super cute black sweater dress; a World Wildlife Federation water bottle; a metallic clubby type dress; a dri-fit shirt; and five books (four paperbacks, one hard cover). The books I know were super inexpensive--between $.69 and $1.99 each, I believe.

My haul was even more impressive (plus I can tell you more about it!). Clockwise from top left: a cute lavender and black plaid flannel shirt with snaps ($3.99); a gorgeous, new with tags silk dress by Jonathan Martin ($24.99, and one of the most expensive pieces of clothing I have ever thrifted); a workout hoodie with a ruffled hood by Lucy ($4.99, and SO comfortable I've barely taken it off since I washed it); a set of four new Crate & Barrel napkins in a great retro pattern ($4.99); a beautiful brown wool, fully lined, houndstooth skirt by Harve Benard ($4.99); three paperback books (between $.69 an $1.19 each); a gorgeous wool Banana Repubic pencil skirt in the ellusive size 16 tall ($5.99); a Patagonia fleece neckwarmer ($.49); and a pair of fleece socks ($1.99). Total with tax was right around $60.

So what's the secret? Well, first off, previous trips to Unique found me looking in the wrong section for clothes for myself. Unique separates clothes into Small-Medium-Large-Extra Large. I assumed my size 14/16 stuff would be XL. They call it large. Knowing that will certainly improve future trips. Unique is large and overwhelming--there is a lot of stuff there, most of it is crap, and some of it is weirdly overpriced. If this trip is any indication of the typical quality you can find, though, it's going to become my new go-to.

As a little thought experiment, I decided to try to figure out how much it would have cost to buy the things I bought new. Obviously I can't price those exact items, but I can look at similar ones. So let's see.

First, the plaid flannel shirt. The brand on it is Outdoor Exchange. I've never heard of that brand, so I Googled it, and I couldn't find anything. It's a nice shirt, pretty heavyweight, so I think something similar would probably be Carhartt. A mid-weight flannel shirt for women at Carhartt is regular priced $40.

The dress is by Jonathan Martin. A web search for a silk dress of that brand led me to Overstock, where they're selling a Jonathan Martin dresses, most of which are poly blends, for $30-$50. Since mine's silk, we'll call it $45.

Lucy workout hoodies are expensive! The style I bought isn't on their site, but the ones that are range from $48-$118. Assuming the one I got is mid-range, it would be $83. Close enough.

Crate & Barrel sells their napkins for $3-$8 each, or $16.95 for sets of four. Again, the ones I got aren't there anymore, but there are some similar ones.

I thought Harve Benard was a fancy brand, but it turns out it's sold at Sears. Still, the skirt I bought seems to be very good quality. Nothing they have currently on the Sears website resembles it in the least--no wool, for one thing. Everything I found online that looked remotely similar was at least $60, so I'm calling the skirt I got $50.

Unlike the clothes, the books are all in "used" condition (clothes are all new or like new), so I'm gonna go with Amazon Marketplace values for those. Those values are $1.79, $.97, and $.97.

The Banana Republic skirt actually is still on their website! And it's $79.50.

Patagonia sells their fleece neck warmers for $25
.

Finally, the most colorful fleece socks are $15-$20 per pair for adults, depending on the brand. Mine don't have a brand label, so I'll say $15.

So the total, if this stuff were bought retail, would be $358.18. Before tax. Even if I overestimated in some places, at least several times as much.

This isn't the only reason to thrift shop, but it is sure one of them.

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Wow - what a great day you had! Do you think that maybe the secret to finding those great deals is to go mid-week? Maybe all the really great finds are gone by the weekend? Congrats on the successful haul!

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Yet more thrifting in the 'burbs

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Now that I've had a bit of thrifting luck, I'm itching to keep going. So, yesterday, I gave a couple of local stores another shot, then headed south to a store I'd heard good things about in Centreville. This is how it went down:

I hit The Closet in historic downtown Herndon first, making sure I was there early enough to look through the entire jam-packed store before they closed at 2pm. The store was wall-to-wall people; you couldn't get around in it at all without bumping into people, which I hate. That said, the stock didn't disappoint. I picked up two pairs of jeans for myself, one from The Gap, one from American Eagle (and a size 16 long is not something you see in thrift stores often), for $4.50 each; a set of brand new cloth napkins for I think $2; four new-in-case stamp sets from A Stamp in the Hand, all with their original $22 price tags on them, for $2 each; and a new in the box Bodum French press (I break them so often I like to have a spare around) for $5. I had a bit of a tense moment at checkout when I realized The Closet is a cash-only establishment (yes, turns out those do still exist), but they kindly held my purchases while I went to the ATM, so it all turned out fine.

Next, I hit Herdon-Reston Bargain Loft. When I went there before, I though that I might well make some discoveries on another trip, and I did. I got four nice martini glasses (the one kind of classic bar ware we were missing) for $1 each; a Williams & Sonoma tea pot with a strainer (something Mark has been asking me to find for him) for $7; and a little antipasta plate that I thought was cute for $.50. One thing I saw that I have no need for personally but would be a good find is a new-in-the-box Senseo machine for $30. Looks like retail on it is about $70, so that's a decent deal. I also have to note that the women who were working in the store were exceptionally nice and wrapped my martini glasses really carefully so they wouldn't break, which I appreciate.

Next, I hit the Herndon Salvation Army. I didn't buy anything there, but I did notice that the have some very nice furniture. I spent several minutes lusting over a mid-century dresser that I knew Mark would hate (I wish we didn't have such opposite tastes!). It was marked $79, but completely worth it--it was in great shape, with the drawers all going in and out smoothly, and hadn't ever been refinished. I'm still kicking myself a little bit for not going for it.

Lastly, I headed down to the Clock Tower Thrift Store in Centreville (6031 Centreville Crest Lane, Centreville). This store isn't quite as exciting, I didn't think, as the Clock Tower in Falls Church. It's a bit smaller and doesn't have quite as good a collection. That said, I did score a silk and cashmere Ann Taylor wrap sweater for $6, and a set of never-used Vera napkins for $1.50. I haven't decided whether to keep the napkins or put them up on Etsy--I kind of like them, but Mark hates them, and I know there are collectors of Vera's table linens all over the place.

All in all, another good day. I'm completely energized now. My next trip will probably up to Leesburg, where there seem to be about five stores within a three block radius, and then on to the Blue Ridge Hospice Thrift Shops in Purcelville and Berryville. I don't know if I have any local WINOW readers, but if I do, please leave me a comment and tell me your favorite thrift spots! I can't wait to check out all the rest of the options.

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I think you did pretty well!

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Another go at NoVa thifting: Falls Church

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This afternoon, I found myself needing to waste some time in Falls Church, so I thought I'd give another go to thrift shopping here in the great state of Virginia.

And it was better! It's still not great--it's not Austin and it's not going to be--but it was better! I made actual purchases, at least.

First, I hit Unique (2956 Gallows Rd, Falls Church). Unique is this area's answer to the thrift mega-store. It's a mostly for-profit enterprise, from what I can tell. It's huge--a warehouse--and well-organized. Unfortunately, 99.9% of what is there is crap. When I thrift, I am looking for either new or like-new items at prices much cheaper than they would be new, or vintage or hard-to-fine items I couldn't find new. What I am not looking for is been-used stuff that I probably wouldn't have wanted even if it were new.

That being said, if you're patient, Unique can turn up some worthwhile items, few and far between as they are. The high point sections seem to be the clothes, where I didn't spend much time today. I did browse the ladies' jackets, and found several nice ones. The prices were too high by my reckoning, though--used Old Navy should never cost $10, and no used jacket should be $50 in a thrift store.

But I did come home with a few things. I bought: a set of six blue and white patterned Japanese finger bowls ($.99); a new-in-package set of Emilie Henry ramekins ($4.49); a copy of bell hooks' Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center ($.99); a copy of James Beard's Beard on Bread ($1.41); and a set of green linen napkins that look new ($3.49).

Next, I went further into Falls Church to the Clock Tower Thrift Shop (2860 Annandale Rd, Falls Church). Clock Tower is a non-profit store benefiting "Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS). This is a really tiny store, and it's very crowded. You can barely walk between the racks. However, there are real gems here. I didn't look a lot at the clothes, but the dishes and housewares were full of vintage things I know a collector would love (there was a tea set from the 50s I really wanted to bring home). There were also at least a half dozen nice wool scarves and a big basket of vintage stockings that I'd have been all over if I was a smaller size. However, I was dismayed to see a used jean jacket marked $25. It was Calvin Klein, but come on--that's consignment price, not thrift. Finally, the vintage jewelry section, though it's all cluttered up behind glass and hard to browse, is amazing.

Once again, I managed to pick out a few things to bring home with me (I easily could have brought several more things, but I was trying to be good). The glass pitcher was a bit spendy at $8, but I've been looking for one just like it (that size and heavyweight), so I went for it. The noodle bowl is lovely and was $2. Finally, I was stoked to find new in package, locally hand-made beeswax candles, also $2.

My last stop was just a couple of blocks away from Clock Tower, a store called Joseph's Coat (3022 Annandale Rd, Falls Church). Joseph's Coat is a thrift shop benefiting the Bethany House DV hotline and shelter program. It's a much larger space than Clock Tower, but much smaller than Unique. The first thing I noticed was the stellar book section--best one I've seen here. I recently vowed to stop buying books that I don't for some reason need to own rather than just read (i.e. no fiction unless I really love it, mostly cookbooks, art books, and feminist books), but if I hadn't, I could have gone nuts. The furniture was also quite nice--there was an early 70s slipper chair in great condition there for $69 that I really wanted to bring home (but didn't because Mark would have hated it). Housewares are another strength--lots of full sets of dishes and older glassware. I didn't look closely at the clothes, but my glance turned up a few decent brands and things with tags on them.

It was at Joseph's Coat that I found my favorite score of the day, a bright red tin bread box, for $6. I think it's reproduction and not vintage, but it's super cute, and I've been wanting a box for the half-loaves of bread always cluttered on the top of our fridge. After much hemming and hawing, I also picked up a new condition coffee table book on DaDa. The book was $20, which seemed ridiculous to me for thrift prices, but it's really nice, and I felt slighted for not letting myself buy novels, and I haven't bought any art books in a long time, so it came home with me too.

All in all, a great day of thrifting. The best one I've had since we moved here, and I feel myself getting reinvigorated to do serious, browse-through-all-the-clothes, takes-all-day trips. Stay tuned!

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Dear NoVa thrifting, why do you suck so much?

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Yesterday I left the house bound and determined. I was going to do it. The wealthy people surrounding where I live on every side have to be throwing their barely-used shit somewhere. There has to be good thrifting. My failures on previous trips had to be coincidental, or me not looking in the right places.

I made a list. Nine thrift stores, spread out throughout the suburb in which I live and the closest ones around me (Herndon-Reston-Sterling-Ashburn, for those in the NoVa know). Nine stores. Fortifying Starbucks. How could I go wrong?

I came home five hours later with nothing. Not a single blessed thing.

I wasn't out to be picky. I was looking for clothes for myself or Mark, small housewares (lamps, bowls, barware, kitsch), stuff for the pets, anything giftable...or just anything that caught my eye. I've spent thousands in thrift stores over the years. I am not a hard sell. And yet, nothing.

Let's break it down.

I started close to home, in Herndon. My first stop was at the Salvation Army Thrift Store (2421 Centreville Road, Herndon,‎ (703) 713-6691‎). In Austin, I never lowered myself to stepping into a Salvation Army. I don't like their politics, and I never found their stores to be all that anyway. Here, though, I was bound and determined to give all my options a fair try.

It's not a terrible store. It's large, well organized, and clean. There were some possibilities in the furniture section--nothing we needed, but a few things that weren't complete crap. The book section, though small, was well priced and had up-to-date books. The kids' clothes looked promising. But the housewares were dismal (think old off-brand Tupperware and glassware that obviously wasn't supposed to spend so much time in the dishwasher), and the clothes I looked through all seemed to fall into that unpleasant zone between vintage and current. Nothing for me there.

Next, I hit a charity store, the Herndon-Reston Bargain Loft (336 Victory Drive, Herndon, (703) 437-0600‎). The store benefits the F.I.S.H. (Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help) program. It's a small store in a mostly-abandoned office park. This isn't a bad place--it's mostly houseware type stuff, very little clothing. Prices are a bit on the high side, but I could definitely see the possibility of treasures here, in the "we got this out of Grandma's attic" vein. Though I didn't find anything on this trip, I'd go again. It's never going to be a place where I'll find a lot of stuff, but I could see running into an occasional treasure, and it's a pretty pleasant shopping experience (I'm pretty sure I was the only person under 70 there).

To finish out my Herndon rounds, I hit the two thrift stores I'd seen within a block or so of each other in what Mark and I persist in calling "historic downtown Herndon." The first is The Closet (845 Station Street, Herndon, (703) 437-7652‎). The Closet is a charity shop. Its story is kind of neat, actually--it's a joint effort between several local churches. It was the best store I visited all day--packed to the gills with potential. However, it was very crowded, and I got there at about 1:45 PM, not knowing that they close at 2 (the store is only open from 10am-2pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), so I didn't get the chance to look around as much as I'd liked. I did see a pretty good book selection (I notice several current books on CD, which I don't see all that often), and a decent-looking craft section (lots of new-in-package stamping and scrapbook stuff). The clothes that I could get to looked to be pretty high quality as well, but the crowding made it hard to tell. I'll definitely try again another day.

The other downtown Herndon thrift store is FAITH (Ste 2A, 795 Center Street, Herndon, (703) 766-3396‎). FAITH stands for Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, and the store benefits local humanitarian efforts through that program. FAITH is a Muslim-based program, though they will help anyone as per their website, and the store reflects that. It's a really small space, and I'd say about a quarter of it is dedicated to scarves, abaya, and similar clothing. Another large portion of the store is taken up with children's clothing and toys. I doubt I'll visit again, since neither of those areas of merchandise is of much interest to me.

Having exhausted my options in Herndon, I moved on to Reston. Feeling that the issue here may be that the locals are into consignment, I made an exception to my usual "no consignment stores" rule and hit Vogue to Vintage (1631 Washington Plaza North, Reston, (703) 787-5700‎). This is a nice little consignment store--I tried on a gorgeous leather jacket that was marked $30, and had it fit, I'd have bought it in a second. The store seems to cater to a slightly older clientele, and it's all women's clothes and accessories. I saw a few pairs of designer jeans, a Betsey Johnson bag, stuff like that. Nothing that I just had to have, but, as far as consignment stores go, it's probably worth visiting. As a bonus, there's a used bookstore and a children's consignment store (Small Change Consignments) in the same little shopping center. The center also houses the only indie coffee shop I've seen here.

After my consignment detour, I moved on to Sterling. In Sterling, my first stop was the Goodwill (22405 Enterprise Street, Sterling, (703) 444-5186‎). I tried this store once before and was unimpressed, but I thought I'd give it another shot. In Austin, the Goodwill was always the #1 go-to store. No need to give this one another chance--everything in here is old. Not vintage, just old. Worn out, sad, depressing. I was in the store for less than five minutes, just like the last time I visited.

The next Sterling stop was the Good Shepherd Alliance store (Ste 113, 20921 Davenport Drive, Sterling, (703) 444-5956‎). Once again, a store full of worn out stuff. I don't think I even picked anything up.

Finally, I headed to Ashburn. First, I attempted to go to the SACS Family Store (21673 Beaumeade Circle, Ashburn, (703) 858-2700‎), but I drove around a business park for fifteen minutes and couldn't find it, so I gave up. Then I went to the Ashburn Good Shepherd Alliance store (20684 Ashburn Road, Ashburn, (703) 724-1555‎). Much better than the Sterling version, this store had the most potential of any I saw, other than maybe The Closet. Decent sized, well organized, with some cool stuff. The neatest thing I saw all day was there--this awesome Melissa & Doug tree house toy. It was in new condition and was $45, which is less than half retail, so not bad, but not the bins. There were a few OK housewares (though nothing we need), and the clothes looked pretty good.

So, in summary:
Try again: The Closet (Herndon); The Herndon-Reston Bargain Loft; SACS Family Store (Ashburn); Good Shepherd Alliance Store (Ashburn); Vogue to Vintage (Reston)
Skip: Salvation Army (Herndon); Goodwill (Sterling); Good Shepherd Alliance Store (Sterling); FAITH (Herndon).

It was depressing. I can see the potential to maybe find something every once in a while. If I visit The Closet every week, for example, I'm sure I'll grab a few cool things. But it's clearly just not going to be the way it was in Austin. And my question is still lingering: where are all these upper middle class suburbanites dumping their barely used stuff? If anybody out there knows, please let me in on the secret!

3 Comments

Maybe they're not dumping so much of it right now because the economy is a mess?

Ugh! I know how you feel!!! I'll check out some of the places you found but the places i've been to are keeeeerap!
Don't even think about the 8ball place in sterling...its scary and NEVER has anything good and the crap furniture is PRICEY - not even sure who they benefit. The Blue Ridge Hospice in Purcellville is sometimes okay but their furniture is almost priced like new.
There are two in Leesburg that are hit or miss sometimes you find good stuff and they have decent prices - in fact i might check them out this weekend.
Thanks for this post!

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Thrifting it up Virginia style

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As I get my bearings in our new home, there is one important thing I have to do. Find the thrift stores. And once I find them, I'll be reviewing them here, just like I did in Austin. Right now, though, I don't have time to go out and explore much, since I'm still unpacking, and I wouldn't want to bring any new treasures in anyway, since they'd just get lost in the mess. So, step one is making a list of possible candidates.

A Google search led me to this Guide to Thrift Store Shopping in Northern Virginia. Gleaning it, I'm thinking a trip to Falls Church to visit Unique, the "granddaddy of all thrift stores," is in order. I'll probably also need to head over to Purcelville to visit the Blue Ridge Hospice Thrift Shop.

The Goodwill, so long my standard, go-to store, doesn't have a huge presence here. There is one fairly close by, in Sterling, which I will definitely check out. The next closest is in Falls Church, so I'll stop by there when I got to Unique. The rest, though, are all more than 15 miles away, so they aren't likely to be weekly outings the way they have been in the past.

The Clock Tower Thrift Shops benefiting Northern Virginia Family Service might be promising, and there are two of those in Falls Church and one in Centerville, so I'm adding those to the list.

Right now, that is, sadly, the entire list, with the exception of a store I spied on the way to Mark's new job that I will stop by as soon as I get the chance. I'm sure there are more, and finding them is part of the fun. I'll keep you updated.

6 Comments

I am a thrift shop fanatic. And I used to find even better stuff before eBay!

Sounds wonderful! I'll be doing the same soon and I can't wait!!!

Wow, I can't wait to hear more thrift store stories. You always seem to find the best stuff.

Hello! Boy, have I got some thrift stores for you.

Fair warning though, they are all in Maryland. I know that when people first move here they feel like everything is really far away from each other. I know when I first moved to NoVA I felt like suburban MD was another planet. It's not that bad, really.

In Laurel we have three big ones that people like to hit: Laurel Thrift (on rt1), Village Thrift (on 198), and if you are still bereft, the Salvation Army a little further north.

That is a start. Let me know if you want to take a tour!

Once you go to one thrift store, you can ask around there. Birds of a feather...People love to talk about their "finds."

Thanks for linking to information about Northern Virginia Family Service's Clock Tower Thrift Shops on your blog. We hope you were able to stop by and find some good bargains. Proceeds from the Clock Tower Thrift Shops go to support our work serving over 20,000 people annually. These services include workforce development, Head Start programs, Special Foster Care, counseling, eviction prevention, and much more.

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Super thrifted yarn contest!

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I know I'm supposed to be making pre-BlogHer posts, but I can't resist this.

Yesterday, while doing a bit of thrifting with The Princess, I spied a bag of yarn. I always look at the bags of yarn at the Goodwill, but 95% of the time, they are full of half-skeins of synthetics. This time, however, I saw something else. Since the bag was stuffed full and marked $4.99, I decided to take a chance and bought it.

The contents:


  • One hank of Cotton Classic 100% cotton yarn, yellow (retail $6)

  • One hank of Himalayan Yarn Co. 60% wool 40% recycled silk yarn, maroon (retail $9)

  • One skein of Noro Silk Garden yarn, 45% silk, 45% kid mohair, 10% lambswool, Tan/Purple/Black/Teal/Rust (retail $12)

  • Two skeins Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Silk fingering weight yarn, 52% bamboo, 43% superwash merino wool, 5% combed silk, butterscotch (retail $8 each)

  • One skein of Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Wool, 51% bamboo, 39% wool, 10% nylon, Neptune (retail $7)

  • One skein of Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Wool, 51% bamboo, 39% wool, 10% nylon, Vine Green (retail $7)

  • One hank Berroco Cotton Twist, 70% mercerized cotton, 30% rayon, varigated (retail $5)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Pecan (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, unknown color (red/brown/white) (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Lagoon (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Surf (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Fern (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Amaranth (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Teaberry (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Hyacith (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Garnet Rose (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Byzantium (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Pistachio (retail $2.50)

  • One skein Elann Adara, 87.5% mercerized cotton, 12.5% linen, Waterfall (retail $2.50)

  • Takumi Clover #6 4.25 circular bamboo knitting needles (retail $9)

  • Takumi Cover #7 4.5 circular bamboo knitting needles (retail $9)

  • Two sets Takumi Clover #13 0.9 circular bamboo knitting needles (retail $13 each)

  • Takumi Clover #11 8.0 circular bamboo knitting needles (retail $13)

Total estimated value: approximately $149

Nice score, huh?

So, the contest: leave me a comment and tell me what you would do with this yarn if I sent it to you! What you would make and who you would make it for. One week from today, I'll pick the most awesome answer and send that person the works.

Go!

13 Comments

Well, not particularly awesome but I'll leave my boring comment anyway :)

I would totally make a super colorful sweater for the baby to wear on the nice cold beach to which I am moving, out of the Elann skeins. I'd try my hand at a hoodie for him (skeery). Any leftovers would be used to make matching mittens or scarf or both.

And the Panda silk? Well, socks of course! That should be enough for a matching pair for the baby and the 11 year old.

The Noro would be mittens for the 11 year old, the Himilayan recycled silk would probably be a scarf for my daughter.

Bamboo circs would be treasured and petted and placed in a spot of honor when they were not in use.

All that Elann would make lovely kitty blankets for the shelter. Stripey blankets for stripey cats! Some of the bamboo could be used for a pair of mitts that fit you, ha ha... but the Noro, hm? I think a pair of yoga socks, perhaps (mixed with another yarn).

I would use it for the ships project! I'm thinking about all the warm hats and slippers I could make for troops. I hear the berthing on carriers is really cold.

http://www.theshipsproject.com/Home.htm

That's a pretty fantastic stash you snagged! I'm thinking it would be great for some cute amigurumi stuffed toys! Maybe a shawl and baby booties/socks.

Well, I am a brand new knitter so nothing too terribly fancy. However, I would love to make a matching hat and scarf set for my little guys, and my 13yo dd is begging me for a scarf before winter rolls around. I'd love to make some socks, but I'm not quite ready for them yet. Maybe these would inspire me to make my first pair of socks!

I make little garments for the babies I catch to tell the families thank you for letting me a part of their growing family. It would be really great to have that to knit from.
Also....there's a new surprise coming in March & I'd love to make some baby stuff for them as those yarns great for springtime knitting.

I'm regularly making baby items to give away, and the fact that there are a variety of colours in somewhat smaller quantities here would be perfect for that.

I've never knit with any silk yarn before, I think that it'd make a really, really beautiful scarf for my Mama for Christmas. She deserves pretty things.

The Noro makes me drool. I'd selfishly make me socks.

I lack circular needles. I definitely do not have a size 11, 13, or 6. I think I probably have a 7, but I don't have any in bamboo... and I bet that they are divine.

The third skein down would look beautiful on Lem. I'd have to decide between a matching hat and mitts set or a little sweater for her.

Anyhow, it's been fun to look at the yarn. Best of luck to all commenters!

I'd FINALLY teach my friend Annie to knit! She's been asking for two years and I've been dodging it. I'd pick a nice skein, help her make a scarf or something, then surprise her with the bag full of yarn! She's unemployed. She would love that. :)

I am totally going to learn how to knit! My best friend is a knitting fiend and she can teach me and then I am going to make this hat for those crazy cold NH nights: http://www.domiknitrix.com/knittingpatterns/mohawkhat.cfm

I want to make a couple of these for trying to incite more people to be more earth friendly(and fill them with homemade goats milk soap I am making!):http://cgkstashbust.blogspot.com/2007/01/grannys-crazy-ass-church-bazaar-soap.html

A pair of these bitchin' almost mittens:http://www.marniemaclean.com/patterns/NearlyGloves/Gloves.html

A couple of these cutie dollies with any extra leftover stuff: http://www.ashidome.com/blogger/files/FREE_worrydolls.pdf

And I totally want this hat with that delicious butterscotch pumpkin color: http://www.knitting-and.com/knitting/patterns/hats/pumpkin-hat.htm

Good score Grace! You are SOOOO lucky with the thrift stores around you!

Kara

Just stopping in from ICLW, and was impressed by your find (and also by your other posts). I'm not a knitter, but I have a die hard knitting friend, and I know she'd be drooling over this. Maybe not he most awesome answer, and I'm probably too late for the contest, but if I won, I'd send the whole thing to my friend Kathleen. BUT, it'd be a bribe to get her to come see me and my new baby. Because so far, she's putting me off..and I can't figure out if it's because she's busy or if its because of the baby. Does the thought of spending time around my 6 month old make her stay away? Curious that my frienship issues came out in this comment. Sorry!!!

I would use the cottons to make crocheted vases with flowers in various colors, and dishcloths. I would make the rest into scarves to give to charity, as my brother's mother-in-law has asked me to.

That's a gorgeous find. I'd make a couple of wraps/scarves for my daughters who hugged me everyday when I was having chemo, they got me through cancer and they deserve a hug back. I may attempt "198 yards of heaven" with the sock yarn for myself too.
Keep looking for more of these bargains!

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Bins re-cap

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Bins finds, 06/08/09After at least a month's absence (too much to do!) I finally got to the Bins today.

I spent a total of about $8.50, including tax. The haul was:


  • A large Ziploc full of embroidery thread and fabric

  • A wooden Bentley's tea chest

  • A glass jar with hinge lid

  • A Vera Bradley makeup bag in new condition

  • A small Ziploc full of (all unopened) samples, mostly from L'Occtaine

  • Two Alice in Chains CDs

  • An (unopened) jar of salt scrub

  • An (unopened) sample size bar of Lush's Honey I Washed the Kids soap

  • Two vintage tea tins

  • Several spools of vintage-looking trim

Mostly, this stuff is to give away or swap--the embroidery stuff, the Vera Bradley bag, the salt scrub, the trim. I'm planning to make candles in the tea tins and use the wooden tea box to store essential oils. The glass jar is for Tiny Shiny Things. The CDs went to Mark. The Lush soap and L'Occtaine samples are all me, though.

I missed the Bins. It's kinda hard to thrift right now--with moving on the horizon, I'm trying to weed out possessions, not add to them. But I think I did a pretty good job today sticking to things that could be used immediately or useful immediately, either to me or to someone else.

1 Comments

Those are great finds! We've used "Honey I washed the kids" and really loved it. It was really soft and smelled heavenly. And l'Occitane is wonderful, but it's really expensive in the store. I wish our thrift store had stuff like you found. :-)

Christine

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Notes from the bins

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Recently, someone I know online asked me if I had stopped thrifting. After I finished laughing, I assured her that yes, as long as I am breathing and have access to thrift stores, I'm still thrifting. I can't imagine it being otherwise. What I do seem to have stopped doing, however, is blogging about it. This hasn't been intentional--I just haven't though to do it. Due to being unusually busy, I have been thrifting less often than usual, and though my take is generally pretty OK, I haven't come home with anything so fantastic I felt the need to share it with the world in a while. But, since I was asked, and since this is pretty much my favorite subject, I thought I'd share the goods from my bins trip last night.

What you see here is the sum total of last night's trip. From the bottom left:


  • Three new greeting cards with envelopes, all of which read "These are but wild whirling words"--William Shakespeare. $.25 for three

  • Four plastic containers of Risk figurines, intended for Tiny Shiny Things jars, $.25 each

  • A hand knitted red cotton strawberry baby hat, $.25

  • A Panache appertif poster that is going to go in my bathroom, $.50

  • Three bags of new rubber jacks cat toys, $.25 each.

  • A small candle mold, $.25

  • A large candle mold, $.75

  • A package of three small red tins, $.25

  • A Bamboo Utensil To-Go set like this, $.25

  • A cool wooden tension toy/puzzle, $.25


Total with tax: $4.87

This represents what has become a very average trip for me. Nothing exceptional, but a few cute things, very little money spent, and very little new stuff that I don't have an intended use for coming into my house. I'm very happy with being in this stage of my thrifting career.

3 Comments

ooh, i have bamboo utensil envy in a big way!

Interesting finds. The hat is cute, I like the toy/puzzle too. You dig this all out of these big blue tubs I once saw in your pics? Is everything priced or do they "make it up" at checkout?

Christine

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Tiny Shiny Things

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Tiny Shiny Things JarsRemember when I found the Jar of Whimsies at the Bins and was all excited about making my own? Well, I've finally started doing it. And it's just as much fun as I'd thought it would be.

First, I spent a couple of weeks gathering up stuff at the Bins. Each trip, I'd grab a Ziploc bag (there are always some around there) and start shoving all the tiny, shiny things I find into it. Like what? Small toys, especially old or interesting ones; tiny paper goods; bouncy balls; doll clothes and furniture; game pieces; rubber duckies; bells; marbles; dice--whatever strikes my fancy that is small enough to fit in a jar.

Next, I separated all my stuff into bags. I thought about doing it by color, so insure having a good color mix in the jars, but decided to do it by type instead. So I have one bag of marbles and bells, one of bouncy balls, a couple different ones of toys, one of small pine cones, one of vintage pieces, one of beads...etc.

Now I needed jars. As luck would have it, I have a vast collection of thrifted jars (aren't you shocked?). Most of them, however, are canning style jars that I have writing or ornamentation on them. For this, something plainer is better, so I choose some plain Ikea jars (these) that came from the GW a bit ago.

Then I put the pieces together. I did it without a plan. I just picked a few things from each bag, tossed them in, then took a look at the jar. Then I added, subtracted, moved things around, and shook the jar until I was satisfied.

This is my kind of craft--more time spent thrifting, less time spent with glue or a sewing machine. And the result is so great. It's this joyful little package. And, the best part? 100% recycled. There is nothing new in any of the jars I've made, and I don't see any reason why there would need to be anything new in any I'll make in the future. I can't feel a bit bad about that!

4 Comments

The baby in the jar is freaking me out! Eets looking at me! Aie!

I love these! They are so colorful and fun to look at. Great idea, Grace.

ooh, I want.

I one of those kids that never grew up who is constantly stuffing her pockets with shells and shiny rocks and fish bones and stuff. It drives DW crazy. Maybe if I put it all in a pretty jar...hmmm....

I love the sock monkey! I may adapt this idea with my six year old. She has so many little trinkets kicking around her room, it would be fun to try your idea. Thanks!

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Talking back

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In general, I try not to get into protracted discussions in the comments to my posts. This isn't because I don't care what you all have to say--I very much do. Rather, it's that I don't think people who read the blog usually come back to older posts and read the comments, so discussions in them tend to feel kind of pointless and secluded. If something catches my attention more than once, I generally try to sit on it for a while, and then, if it's still something I want to say something about, come and re-post about it.

Which is what I am doing now, because this particular something has been stuck in my craw for days.

The comments made by Randy about "racial pricing" at the Blue Hanger stores are as follows:

Watch out for racial pricing!!!! I have been to the Blue Hanger on McNeil three for four times. Shopping is hit or miss, as can be expected. What really gets me is the pricing. Yes the prices are posted but Hispanic customers get charged between .25 cents and .75 cents, where Gringos (White people) get charged full price or more. Today the cashier was very nasty when I commented about this. I got the name and number of the assistant manager and called him from the parking lot. He said they have had complaints about this before and offered to refund the amount of my purchases. I don't feel that this matter should be kept "in house". They need to lay down the law with the employees, one price for everyone. I don't mind paying the posted prices as long as the shoppers in front of me aren't getting a 75% discount based on race. (Comment edited by blog owner to remove names.)
The problem is when prices are at the cashier's discretion, I get charged the highest price. Stuffed animals are priced small medium and large. Some of them are the size of a small child. I would think that is a large. One I had that was less than 12 inches in height, but the cashier charged the large size. I have also been charged more than the posted price, and when asked, the cashier's comment was, "That's what the price is." Either they should have no posted prices and let it be completely up to the cashier and all be a guessing game or FOLLOW THE RULES. (Comment edited by blog owner to remove names.)

Here's what I think about these comments:

First, I can't say for sure if I've ever been charged differently than the person in front of me. Why? Because I never pay the slightest bit of attention to what the person in front of me is being charged. Why should I? It makes absolutely no difference to my transaction.

Secondly, I have no problem believing that the prices are different depending on who you are and who the cashier is and probably what kind of day the cashier is having. That's part and parcel of somewhere with discretionary pricing, and I personally have no problem with it. If I'm quoted a price that seems unreasonable for the item I am interested in, I always have the option to not buy that item. I use this option quite often, as do other shoppers at the Blue Hanger stores. No harm, no foul.

Third, if I did notice a disparity in pricing, my guess would be that it has much more to do with personal relationships between cashiers and customers than with race. At the Blue Hanger store, it's pretty clear that there are regular customers who know the cashiers well. Do these customers get better prices? It's likely. Am I concerned about that? Not really, I think it's just kind of the way things work. Anybody who works in retail and says they've never given a break to a friend either possesses a level of scruples that I don't or is just lying. I also think that if Randy shows the kind of attitude at the store that s/he showed in the comments here, s/he can probably expect even higher prices in the future.

Finally, say there is "racial pricing," meaning Hispanic customers regularly get lower prices at the Blue Hanger store. It's still not something I can get too worried about. Why? Because that would make it the one in a hundred, or one in a thousand, situation in which being white works against me instead of for me in this country. Until I can not only recognize the other 99 (or 999?) situations, but rally against them, I have no right to be too concerned about this one.

I was recently involved in a discussion online about "anti-Christian discrimination" in the U.S. An online friend said that she thinks that people who get used to being treated preferentially often mistake the situation for discrimination when their preferential treatment ends--i.e. they are so used to being discriminated for that they mistake equality for bigotry. I wonder if maybe that isn't the case here.

2 Comments

When I was in Mexico, my teacher asked me how much I had paid for a blouse I bought from a street vendor. When I told her, she said "Oh, man, you paid the tourist tax." It made me laugh and I really didn't mind - I was a visitor in an area where the average daily wage is about $4, so me paying a couple extra bucks for a shirt wasn't hurting me as much as it was helping them. I don't know if I would be so generous in the US though.

I think you're spot on about the removal of discrimination for someone being misinterpreted as discrimination against them. I applaud you for your open-mindedness.

On the topic of thrift shops - are you concerned about the new law Congress passed that goes into effect Feb. 10? Apparently, many thrift shop owners/operators are concerned with it's impact on their businesses.

I will be deeply saddened by the loss of any of my local thrift shops.

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Goodwill finds

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Y'all wanna see my Bins scores from today?

Of course you do.

cast iron pitcherI know this just looks like a pitcher, so what, but it's actually really cool. It's enameled cast iron! I've not seen anything quite like it before. Anybody have idea idea where/what era it is from? It's not in wonderful shape, but it's not terrible. I think it is going to be a vase or something. It was $0.50.

leaf cuttersThis is a cute little set of mini cookie cutters, or pastry cutters, shaped like autumn leaves. The outside of the case is a bit beat up, but the cutters themselves seem to be new. They are from the Purple Puma Cookie Company, which, from what I can tell online, is in New Hampshire? Anyway, I thought they would make cut cut-outs on pies, and they were $0.25.

little tree blocksThese are new! Don't ever even seem to have been opened. It's a 100 wooden block set, from Target's Little Tree line. It includes shaped building blocks and alphabet blocks in a plastic backpack case. They are headed to a kid for Christmas--I've got several on my list in the correct age range, or I might give them to the Santa program where I work. They were $1.50.

circus trainHow cool is this?? It's a vintage 70's (at least that is what the folks selling them on Ebay tell me) Santa's Circus Train set. It's all wooden and in pretty good shape--one piece needs a little wood glue, and there is one piece (a tractor that is supposed to go inside the last train car) missing. I have no idea what I am going to do with it--it's probably a bit fragile to actually be played with regularly--but I couldn't pass it up. Again, $1.50.

jar of whimsiesMy favorite find of the day, and one of my favorite finds ever. This is a "Jar of Whimsies." My entire line of reasoning in buying it was "wow, this looks cool." But then I got home and looked it up. Turns out these are sold by a cool shop called One Good Bumblebee. They are plastic 32 oz jars filled to the brim with tiny pieces of ephemera, many of them vintage. I haven't opened mine yet--I am getting too much of a kick out of turning it over and over in my hands and looking at it. But I'm sure I won't last much longer.

In researching it, I found out that these Jars of Whimsies aren't just a One Good Bumblebee thing, though they may (I'm not sure) have started there. Mamaphunk at Believe in the Power of Beautiful Stuff posted about a Jar of Whimsies swap here. There are a ton of them on Flickr. There have clearly been swaps for them. And there is at least one person selling them on Etsy. Can I please just tell you how badly I want to try my hand at this now? With as much random and fascinating crap as I have to leave in thrift stores because I don't know what to do with it, this could be a great solution...

I bought a few less exciting things today as well--10 new shaving set mugs at $0.39 each, three new low ball glasses (the awesome heavy-bottomed kind) at $0.39 each, a couple of glass canisters (one of which may or may not be depression glass, I can't figure out how to tell) for $0.50 each...I totaled I think $12 with tax. It was a good day.

2 Comments

That jar is too cool!! I would be so intrigued..... Great finds, Grace!

Christine

I totally want to know what's in the jar of whimsies!

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NaBloPoMo #25: Thrifting Tips Tuesday

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So the big present-giving extravaganza holiday is approaching us (at least, it's approaching those of us who choose to celebrate it). And I have one piece of priceless advice for you in that regard:

Thrift your gifts.

Yes, it is OK to give thrifted gifts. It's not rude, it's not cheap, and it's not gross. It is frugal, environmentally conscious, and thoughtful. And anybody who thinks otherwise can pretty much bite me.

Now, let me back up and say that I do have a different threshold for thrifted gifts than for non-gift thrifted items. I want thrifted gifts to either a) be new; b) look new; or c) be something so cool it doesn't matter that it isn't new. I don't, for example, generally gift thrifted clothing unless it has tags on it. However, one year I got my mom three much needed sweaters--one Eddie Bauer, one Land's End, one Ralph Lauren--all from the Goodwill, all new with tags. If I didn't tell her they were thrifted, she never would have known the difference. This year, I am giving Mark's mom a gorgeous antique Irish linen table cloth, which I got at the bins. It isn't new, but it is in wonderful condition, and for something like that, I'll make an exception to the new rule.

There are some big advantages to thrifting gifts. Clearly, it can save you money. Possibly more importantly, it reduces the time you have to spend in retail shopping centers this time of year. You're also able to find things you might not otherwise find. However, it is much more work than buying new. I've been looking for Christmas gifts on my thrifting trips all year long. If you want to get each person on your list something that will really knock their socks off, and get it used, you are going to have to put in the hours.

Here are a few tips for thrifting for gifts:


  • Start early. This is going to take some time.

  • Take a quick look at anything you see that is new with tags/packaging. Not everything will suit someone on your list, of course, but everything is worth a second glance.

  • Have a list of who you need to buy for, but not necessarily what you want to get them. You will have to be flexible.

  • Make use not only of regular thrift stores, but of used book stores (my step dad's presents always come from here!), consignment shops, etc.

  • When you are deciding how much to get someone, the thrifted price isn't important. Don't feel like you have to give more gifts just because you are giving thrifted gifts.

  • Accept to begin with that you will likely not be able to thrift for everyone on your list. Sometimes, you just can't find something thrifted, or you want to get something specific and it isn't available. That's fine. The idea here is to cut down on buying new stuff, not necessarily stop it completely. Do consider handmade and local gifts for those you aren't thrifting for, though, for the most economically and ecologically responsible holiday shopping.

  • Never underestimate the value of wrapping. A collection of things that are just "eh" unwrapped can be transformed into a great gift with a little creative packaging.

  • If available, swap! Have you thrifted something that you can't use or gift, but someone you know can? Swap it for something they've thrifted, or something they've made, that you can use. A lot of my gifts have come to me this way this year, and I'm so stoked about it.

Looking over my gift list this year, I think I've got about 1/4 thrifted gifts, 1/2 handmade ones (either by myself or from swapping), and 1/4 still to buy for. I haven't bought anything new yet and don't plan to. That makes my holidays pretty damn happy.

How about you? Are you thrifting any gifts? What would you think about receiving thrifted items?

4 Comments

I think I've only ever been given thrifted books - however, I prefer them to new books, generally, as long as they are in decent shape. I also give used books quite regularly.

Otherwise, aside from regifting (often of gifts my students have given me to people who will like them more than I), I don't believe I've ever thrifted a gift.

If there were thrift stores here, I'd give it a try. One of these years, I guess.

Usually I don't do thrifted gifts because I'm worried my family thinks I'm cheap or that it's dirty (silly, I know). I did once give my brother, who is a huge hamburger lover a thrifted t-shirt from Burger King (it said "home of the Whopper") just as a joke. He loved it!
If I would find the perfect thing for someone I would get it, but only if I knew they were looking for it anyway. I wouldn't mind getting a thrifted gift at all, as long as it's really something that suits me and not thrifted out of laziness. :-)
And I guess it would work well to keep things that could be a gift separate throughout the year and get it out in December. Usually you run into things when you're not really looking. Or at least that's my experience. If I had to find gifts now with so little time I don't think I would find anything good. :-)

Christine

I go to garage sales all year, and I can usually spot the items being sold that were received as a gift. We even have a saying at our house: "If there were no gifts, there would be no garage sales." Love your gift guidelines! I hope people will come to realize that anyone can walk into a store and buy something, but a good thrifted gift took more thoughtfulness and creativity.

I always thrift at least half of my children's Christmas gifts every year. I am able to find some very unique and special things and my kids don't know the difference and wouldn't care if they did. I occasionally give other people thrifted gifts, but only those close to me that I know appreciate them. I'd never give certain people in my life thrifted presents because I know they would be grossed out and think I'm a cheapskate, rather than see the thoughtfulness and care behind the gift.

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NaBloPoMo #18: Thrifting Tips Tuesday

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One thing folks ask me about fairly often is where to thrift. So today here are some pros and cons of different thrifting options. Keep in mind that this is all my opinion, and there may be regional differences as well.

Garage/yard/rummage sales
Pros: often the cheapest option; money goes directly to individual people; limited merchandise so it's easier to look through
Cons: seasonal; have to get up early; I always feel pressured to buy something even if there is nothing I want
Best for: kids' clothing; toys; sometimes cheap furniture

Consignment stores
Pros: nicer merchandise; clean; organized
Cons: expensive; limited selection
Best for: when you need something specific quickly

For-profit thrift stores (e.g. Savers/Value Village)
Pros: usually clean and well-organized; things have often been washed; often open more hours than charity shops
Cons: giving money to a corporation; higher prices
Best for: people who aren't comfortable with thrifting

Large/chain charity thrift stores (e.g. Goodwill, Salvation Army)
Pros: large selection; sometimes low prices (very store dependent); supports charity
Cons: lots of crap to sift through; less convenient hours; poor organization; supports charity you may disagree with
Best for: just about everything, if you are willing to look

Large/chain outlets (e.g. Goodwill Blue Hanger)
Pros: very cheap; lots of choose from
Cons: dirty; tons of junk; not organized at all
Best for: everything on the cheap

Small/independent charity thrift stores (e.g. church stores)
Pros: usually higher end selection; clean; well-organized; can be cheap
Cons: limited hours; limited selection; priced vary widely
Best for: older things, particularly dishes

What do you think? Where do you prefer to secondhand shop? Why?

3 Comments

That is THE best collective list I've ever seen. Excellent, Grace, and thanks!

We only have flea markets and thrift stores here. The thrift stores are always associated with a charity and often have people with mental disabilities or social problems helping and giving them a chance to get some work experience.
There are secondhand stores for profit but usually they're called antiques stores.
I like both equally because chances to find nice things are about the same here.

Christine

I'm lucky enough to live in an area with year-round yard sales, and 99% of my thrifting is done on people's driveways. I love the personal interaction and knowing a little bit about where things come from--the story is as important to me as the stuff!

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Thrifting and the economy

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A couple of days ago at Secondhand Nation, Carrie posed this question:

Are we thrift fanatics inadvertently making a statement about the absurdity of an economy built on novelty and competitive envy?

For herself, Carrie said, thrifting is simply about economical shopping. She also linked to this article, published earlier this month in the L.A. Times, in which author Judith Freeman writes:

Thrift stores are places where not only the poorest of the poor shop but where one can also see the incredible turnover in the products Americans have consumed and then discarded, often perfectly good items that simply don't get used any more. In thrift stores, you see the evidence of our gluttony.

A bit back, I asked WINOW readers why they thrift. Several of the comments mentioned frugality/economy as the primary reason for thrifting. And, I think, for most people who thrift, it is. I spend a lot of time in thrift stores, the the majority of the people I see there seem to be there either to buy for resale or to buy practical type things for themselves or their families. There are also, of course, the occasional trendsters who are there to find funky one-of-a-kind clothes or strange records on vinyl, but they are the minority. The majority seem to be thrifting because they need to.

Which worries me. Why? Because pickings are getting slimmer, even here in thrift mecca. While this may well say something good about digusting American over consumption (that people are buying/replacing less and thus have fewer things to donate), it could also have an ill effect on those who have grown dependent on the perfectly good cast-offs of the average over-consumer.

What do you think? Is this something worth worrying about?

3 Comments

When I say I thrift because I "need" to, I mean that I thrift because I can't afford to buy the same volume of things that are new. Do I really "need" 2 dressers' worth of clothes? Of course not.

I don't think I'm alone in thrifting to maintain a socially accepted (though perhaps lower) standard of living that is, ultimately, based on want more than need. I really doubt that the pickings will ever become so slim that I can no longer satisfy my needs through thrifting.

Perhaps the longer lasting items like furniture, electronics or shoes will be less at thrift stores, but the decorative pieces, books, clothes and kitchen things will still be there, I'm sure. I don't worry about it, I think for those who rely on it there are also other ways to get what they need (Craigslist and Freecycle, friends & family or trashpicking) if the thriftstores can't help them any longer. As an upside to this I kind of believe it's a good lesson for everybody if we all had a little less to choose from.

Christine

People will always outgrow clothes, and I'm willing to bet there will always be a market for changing styles that prompts people to buy new items and replace their older ones.

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NaBloPoMo #14: Not Feminism Friday

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I don't feel like posting about feminism today. Let's talk about the odd collection of stuff I came home from the bins last night with instead, OK?

goodwill 111308

Here you see the following:


  • A large stuff goose. Dog toy that lasted all of 10 minutes. $0.75

  • A cute brown shirt for me, $1.25.

  • A stack of a dozen of these cloth diapers, all with liners, all in very good shape, $0.50 each. These are to be embellished (or maybe not) and gifted to baby-having friends/family.

  • A small blue jar for packaging some sort of bath product, $0.25.

  • Three embroidery kits (I'm still trying to learn). $0.50 for the little one, $0.75 each for the two big ones.

  • A small stuffed mushroom and a small stuffed rhino. Dog toys that have lasted slightly longer. $0.50 each.

  • The oddest thing: a stack of six large fabric envelopes. I can't figure out what they are for. They are made of cute, heavyweight decorator's fabric, one side print, one plain, and they are sewed together on three sides with the fourth open. And they're huge--about 3'X4'. Some kind of cushion cover? Anyway, they'll make fantastic dog bed covers. $1.50 each.

Trip total, including tax, was $21.92.

And the curious tabby cat, as always, is free.

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NaBloPoMo #11: Thrifting Tips Tuesday

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First, the trip I took to the bins over the weekend:

Goodwill 110808

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:

Front:
bowl close up

Back:
back of bowl

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.

#1 Table
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.

5 Comments

That elephant is so adorable, lol!

Grace those are some awesome finds!

Wow - you are awesome! Very impressive and totally inspiring. I must say that Austin has the best thrift and antique stores! I was just there in September for the first time and I thought I'd found my mecca. Oh btw good find on the jars - you can use them not only for your scrubs but for canning. They normally sell for $1 each around here in Toronto - or more!

Those are awesome finds. You posted about the Ergo and Little People on MDC, I remember. And that Ergo for $1, I'm still jealous!
Great finds. We have a similar table from the '20s made from (the now forbidden) tropical wood, we paid around 400 dollars for it at an antiques store, we all love it!

Christine

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Goodwill, 11/05/08

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I didn't find anything amazing today, nor is this a great picture, but since there are some readers who have expressed interest (and indeed, to keep me honest), here's the yield from tonight's Bins trip.

goodwill 110508

In this photo, you see:


  • One patchwork sari-esque throw, from World Market, $2. Now resides over the back of the leather chair in my living room, for the purposes of deterring cat scratches on leather.

  • Two yards of green and white toile fabric with a ship/island theme, $2. No good reason for buying this.

  • Two small (antique?) tin angel candle holders for a Christmas tree, $0.25 each

  • A small metal meat tenderizing mallet for Mark, $0.25

  • Four handmade items of children's clothing--a smock, a jumper, a reversible vest, and an apron, intended for my small friend Y.'s Christmas present, $1.25 each

  • Four new cotton print Cost Plus napkins, always useful at my house (we go through lots), $0.50 each

  • Two new looking and I think handmade U Florida Christmas stockings. These are going to be filled w/ homemade treats and given to my Florida alum neighbors for Christmas, $0.50 each

  • A pair of new looking Old Navy wide leg jeans for me, $1.25

  • A sleevless Merona no-seam undershirt in army green, for me, $1.25

Total spend, including sales tax: $16.51

2 Comments

Great finds! What's that with the red/pink/purple flowers? I love the colors and the print!!

Christine
PS: posted the Dutch apple pie recipe yesterday on my blog. :-)

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NaBloPoMo #4: Thrifting Tips Tuesday

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I've been asked, quite a few times, whether I think my success in thrifting comes down to luck or skill. Honestly, I don't think it has a whole lot to do with either one. It's something else entirely. Or, actually, a combination of things. So today, for our first Thrifting Tip Tuesday, I am going to tell you what I think you need to be a good thrift shopper.

To Be a Successful Thrift Shopper, You Need...


  1. Good thrift stores: Often, people will say that there just aren't any good thrift stores in their areas. This may or may not be true. I think that there really are some areas that don't have good thrifting. More often, though, folks don't know where to look. In general, it has been my experience that you find the best all-around thrifting in mid-sized cities with large college populations and stable economies. Austin, of course, fits this bill perfectly. In big cities, it sounds as if (my personal experience with this is actually limited) the better stores are found in the suburbs. I'll do a whole post about the types of stores you may encounter and what you might find there later in the month, but for now, the #1 thing you need to be a successful thrifter is a place to do it.

  2. Time: Thrifting is not a quick process. It is very difficult to make it work for you if you are unwilling or unable to put in the time it requires. For some people, this may mean visiting the same store or stores several times a week. For others, it means garage sales every Saturday morning. For me, what it means depends on how seriously I am thrifting at a given time, but lately 1-2 trips per week to the bins. And it's not just about going often, it's about willing to put in the time while you are there. It takes a while to sift through mounds of useless crap to find that one worthwhile thing, and you have to be willing to do that sifting or you aren't likely to score many great purchases.

  3. Patience: This kind of goes along with time. If thrifting is about anything, I'd say it's about patience. You may not find anything you even remotely want for hours, days, or weeks. You have to keep going out and looking, or it won't work. This, I think, is why most of the best thrifters are people who get off on the process itself. I like looking through other people's trash. And when you aren't finding anything fantastic, looking through other people's trash is exactly what thrifting is. So, if you don't already really enjoy that, then you have to cultivate amazing patience.

  4. A running list: It is a common mistake of beginning thrifters to go out one day with a list of things to find and then be disappointed if they don't find anything from their list (or if they only find one thing). This is a new store mentality, and it must be erased. By all means have a list, but it needs to be a running list. Whenever you think of something you'd like to find used, add it to your list. Every time you go thrifting, keep your eye out for all of the things you've listed. Don't expect to find all, or even any, of them. The list here isn't a tool to tell you what you need to buy before you stop, it's a guide of what you should be peeling your eyes for. Finding something from your list, especially something that has been on your list a long time, is cause for celebration, not a routine event.

  5. Willingness to compromise: As well as looking at list-making as a long-term, rather than immediate, venture, you also need to look at it as a more general venture than you normally would with first-run stores. For example, my current list entries include "something to use for a bathroom trash can" and "containers for sugar scrubs." Were I planning to buy these things new, I might have "small lidded stainless steel trash can" (my ideal for the space) or "16 oz glass jars with hinged lids" (again, my ideal). Putting a priority on buying things used has many advantages, but it has disadvantages as well, and one of the biggest ones is that you sometimes need to compromise on getting exactly what you had in mind. This can be a good thing too, though, as it can help you to be creative and consider using things in ways you wouldn't have considered if finding just what you had in mind was easy.

  6. A creative eye: On a somewhat related note, another thing you need to develop if you are going to thrift shop successfully is a creative eye. The majority of the things I bring home from thrift shops have been passed over by tens of other people. Why? Well, either they don't need that item, or they don't see the potential in it. You want to become someone who sees the potential. This can be tricky, as you end up with way too much stuff and no money if you see too much potential, but it's important also to have an open mind. Some people have this naturally--you know these people, they're the ones who can see a pile of popsicle sticks and honestly see a sculpture or whatever. I'm not like that naturally. In me, as, I suspect, in most people, the creative eye has developed over time. And I still mess up, a lot--I bring home lots of stuff that is just, in fact, crap, and I likely pass by great stuff. But the more you do it, the better it gets. This is also a place where I think reading thrifting blogs and seeing the cool stuff other people pick up helps.

Those, in a nutshell, are the things I think you need to be a good thrift shopper. Obviously there are other things that help as well, but those are the big ones to my mind.

Now that you've read this little intro, tell me--what other thrifting topics would you like to see me address on Thrift Tips Tuesdays? I can think of a lot of different things to talk about, from more general stuff like this post and my thrifting philosophy post, to more specific things (like the post I did a while back about thrifting for clothes while plus-sized). What would you be interested in reading?

4 Comments

WOW, I am learning so much right now. My brain hurts and my eyes are dried out from reading. I read through the plus size post also and thought it was just excellent and so true! It's so hard to find my size in thrift stores that I don't really bother.

I'd love to hear about some of your favorite finds and also general stuff and tips. This post has been incredibly helpful to me.

Good list! For me, a lot of it boils down to--you have to show up. Then all your other points--patience, creativity, the running list--come into play. But first you have to open yourself to possibility and just show up. Which, since this is so darned much fun, is easy!

I think it comes down to luck and getting "that feeling" -- I just know when something good it there... Great post.

These are great tips!Something useful I've found is...a lot of items on shelves that are in boxed packaging aren't necessarily what is pictured on the box. Sometimes when I open them I find something really good inside and vice versa. In other words, look in the box!

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Goodwill, 10/21/08

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Self, I said to myself as I drove to the bins. You are going to be more responsible with your thrifting. You are going to only buy things you actually need, you're going to go with a budget, and you are only going once a week, so make it count.

I went on to tell myself, in a very strict voice, that I was not going to spend more than $15, that I was looking for long sleeved shirts, mugs for shaving sets, and stuffed animals without plastic eyes for dog toys, and that I was not to come home with any bath products of any kind, any sleeveless shirts, any skirts, or any fabric.

goodwill 102108

What you see here is as follows:


  • Three plastic eye-less stuffed animals for the dogs, $0.75 each

  • Seven tops for me, five of which have sleeves, $1.25 each

  • Three sections of upholstery fabric, $1.25 each

  • Four mugs, $0.50 each

  • An adorable hand knitted frog, $0.50

  • A blank dieter's journal, $0.50

  • An unopened Origins pick-me up set, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, facial mist, lotion, foot lotion, etc. (maybe from an airline?), $1.00

  • Two vintage perfume bottles, $0.39 each

Not pictured is a very nice beagle sized dog bed, barely used, for which I paid $3. So my total before tax was $22.53. With tax, $24.39.

Obviously I didn't obey all my rules. The stuffed animals, sleeved tops, and mugs were all fine. The sleeveless tops should have stayed there. The upholstery fabric is actually fine, as I've been looking for a section of that type of fabric to recover an ottoman, so it does have a purpose, but I should have only bought one section of it, not three. The hand-knitted frog wasn't on the list, but I'm never going to turn down something that cute and handmade for $0.50. The dieter's journal wasn't on the list either, but I plan to remake it as a Christmas gift, and for $0.50, that's a bargain. The Origins set was supposed to be an absolute no-no, but I've brought it to work to live, and I really can use it here--I've been wanting to freshen up after lunch recently. The vintage perfume bottles were another thing I couldn't pass up--I plan to fill them with my own concoctions and either gift them or use them myself. The dog bed was fine--those are always needed by the rescue and are not cheap new. And I went over my allocated budget by about $10. Which is, unsurprisingly, about the value of the stuff I bought that wasn't on my list/needed.

What can I say. It's a work in progress.

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Goodwill, 10/17/08

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I'm refocusing on paying down debt. As you know if you've been reading here long, I've been making a major effort towards debt pay down since January, but in the last couple of months I've flaked a bit, and I am now trying to get back into it. Hence the new focus on reading frugality and debt reduction blogs. One thing I've noticed from those blogs is that accountability is key. People really seem to be helped by writing their spending down.

You know where this is going, right?

I promise not to post every time I buy a cup of coffee. However, actual shopping trips I'm going to be coming clean about for awhile.

Tonight I went to the bins:

goodwill 101708

My purchases, as seen above, are (from top left): a cute blue floral knee length skirt that I didn't need, but will wear ($1.25), four pink linen napkins on which I am hoping to embroider for gifts ($.0.25 each); a quilted Vera Bradley picture frame that appears to be new and I plan to gift ($0.50); a black cardigan sweater that I really did kind of need and will definitely wear ($1.25); two appertif glasses Mark specifically asked me to keep an eye out for ($0.25 each); a white milk glass mug that I am going to use for a shaving set I'm swapping ($0.25).

Total: $4.75 + 8.25% tax = $5.15. I paid cash from my $100 cash allowance for the rest of the month.

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Why I thrift

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Today is the last day of my current thrift contest, so get on over there and enter before midnight if you want a chance at a custom-thrifted prize!

Now, as promised, my answer to the question "Why do you thrift?"

I thrift for all the reasons people have mentioned so far--frugality, environmentalism, preservation of history, the thrill of the chase. My biggest reason, however, is different than those mentioned so far:

I thrift in order to get time alone. I am a person who needs a lot of alone time who lives with a homebody. I am very, very rarely home alone. So I need to get out of the house for my alone time, and my number one favorite thing to get out and do, by myself, is shop.

I know it's out of fashion to admit you like to shop, at least for my social/political group. I'm supposed to claim to hate shopping and be sickened by the crowds/consumerism/exchange of money. But in reality, I don't, and I'm not. I absolutely love to shop. Walking around, looking at things, doing something in a public space that is totally acceptable to partake in alone--I just adore it.

Thrifting allows me to fulfill my desire to shop in a way that is both more economically viable and more environmentally friendly than any other type of shopping I could be doing. This is not only due to the lower cost and reduced environmental impact of thrifted goods, but also due to the time in to time out equation. When you are shopping secondhand, especially somewhere like the bins, it takes a lot more time and effort to find things you want to buy than it might in a more shopper-friendly environment. The treasure hunt angle. Because shopping at a thrift store is more challenging than a first-run store might be, I can spend the same amount of time shopping, but come home with less stuff. Because for me the actual experience of shopping, rather than what I find, is the point, that's a win-win situation.

As far as I'm concerned, there is no bad reason to thrift shop. The more people accept secondhand goods as viable options, the better off we'll be, in terms of our environment, our wallets, and the support we're (not) giving to crappy labor practices. I continually strive to buy fewer non-used items. There are so many reasons to do it, and I can't think of a single good reason not to.

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CONTEST: Why do you thrift?

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Remember back in July when I had a thrifted finds contest? Well, I FINALLY found a suitable prize for the winner, The Shoppista. So, Shoppista, if you are reading this, watch your mail late next week for your truly fabulous prize. Let me know when it arrives and I'll post a picture of it, too.

Since I finally got that taken care of, I think it's time for another contest!

Since I've started reading more thrifting-focused blogs, I've not noticed many people writing about WHY they thrift. Do you shop secondhand mostly for economic reasons? Environmental? Because that's where you find things you like? Leave me a comment and tell me WHY you thrift, or better yet, write a post about it on your blog and leave a link in the comments. All commentors/linkers will be considered for the prize, which is another thrifted treasure!

Contest is open for one week, closing at 11:59PM on Friday, October 17.

Can't wait to see what you have to say!

10 Comments

So, I grew up not wearing regular clothes pretty much. I had a uniform, I was overcommitted in a million different organizations, so I wore a uniform all day and pajamas when I made it home. My parents are formal dressers, so I bought my first pair of jeans at 16.

Around this time I started to sneak off to the library and Goodwill. The Goodwill had clothes they didn't HAVE in regular stores. Clothes from other periods of time. Jeans built for a woman with an ass. FANCY THAT. Jeans that accentuated a "womanly figure," rather than hid it.

While I'd love to say I started thrifting because I am soooo into the environment, I did for teenage reasons: it was cheap and I had little money. It made me look different from everyone else. It connected me with a sense of history (fashion, cultural, social, economic histories). But most of all, it was one of the few places a girl of 16 could go, spend 2 dollars, and find a shirt that didn't make her feel like a freak for having boobs.

Although it's harder for me now to find things I like in thrift stores (due to the popularity of them, where I live, and my size), it still brings me an intense joy when I find a dress from a decade when it was normal to want to cover your ass crack. When clothes were not made for one generic body type almost no one is. From a time when popular culture rewarded heterosexual men for being sexually attracted to women who ate more than salad (really--I have the thrifted books to prove it!).

As for books, I thrift because it pains me to think that the more esoteric ideas of modern history might be destroyed only because we have printed them in lousy cheap editions that might fall through the cracks. No libraries are collecting this stuff--jello cookbooks, social etiquette manuals, general fiction that woudl tell us about the people who read it. So while it's still around I should read it before the victors (i.e. better sellers) write the history books.

For history! That's why I thrift.

Ha! Hi Grace! Funny you ask this, because I just left a detailed comment on Apron Thrift G's - if she gets tired of shopping and stuff?
I guess I'm in a season where I don't want more stuff, trying to simplify!
Fun visiting you.

I thrifted originally because of cost. I later thrifted because of the environment. Now I do a lovely mix of both.

I shop thrift because its economical.

Hmmm .... why do I thrift? Mostly for economical reasons ... if I spend less to clothe myself/children, I won't have to work extra, can spend time and money on other things, like crafts with the kids, etc. It does end up to be much more 'green' as well -- we have a 'family Goodwill'. Clothing/housewares/etc gets passed to my MILs house, and she will call family members she thinks can benefit. Instead of shopping, my oldest daughter just scored some major fun finds at Grandmas ... dresses, skirts, wallets, etc.

I don't wear blue jeans, and my taste in colors and cuts aren't available at most places. American Apparel would be fine, except they don't stock pants that will fit around my thighs.

This gives me two options: spend a lot of money that I don't have on expensive and sometimes custom made pants, or go to a thrift store.

The nice thing about thrift/vintage stores is that they allow you to shop for a much wider variety of colors/cuts of clothing - thrift shops are like repositories of fashion's past.

Men's fashion tends to be much more conservative and limited, so in order to have any control over what you're wearing, you need to have more than a few seasons available to you. Thrift and vintage stores are about the only places that offer that at anything resembling an affordable price.

Hi Grace,

Honestly? The main reason that I shop thrift is because I love the thrill of the chase. It's the same reason why I LOVE yardsaling. I love to find something that someone else has deemed worthless but I secretly know is a treasure.

Also I'm frugal. REALLY frugal. If I can get something for cheaper, then I'm all over it.

Lastly, environmental.... I just feel like if there's a way that I can even stop PART of something that's in a thrift store from going to waste... then I've done a good thing. That's why I try to reuse in my handcrafts as much as possible, even if it's just a small piece of it.

Take care,
El

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Thrift Blog Round Up

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I have slowly been accumulating a list of blogs featuring thrifted finds and thrifing information and stories, but I've yet to find a real comprehensive list of these blogs anywhere, or a circle of them or anything, so I thought maybe I'd do anybody who was doing the same search I was a favor and put up a list of what I've found. This is by no means comprehensive, so if you have or read a blog I haven't listed here, please leave a comment and I'll add it!

  • Ann's Treasure Box: this blog features Ann-Marie's thrifted finds and homemade creations. She also sells her finds on the site.
  • Apron Thrift Girl: This blog is a great combo of thrifting, swapping, frugality thought and tips, crafty stuffy (l love her menu planning pages), and great design. Apron Thrift Girl is also the mastermind behind the $99 Thrift Challenge, which I think is pretty much the sweetest thing ever.
  • Confessions of an Apron Queen: You may already know this blog as the host of my favorite weekly blog event "Vintage Thingies Thursday." Aside from VTT, though, it also features a great pin-up girl inspired blog design, an excellent recipe section, and an occasional drool-worthy antiquing photo journal. PLUS she gives away vintage aprons every week. For real.
  • freshvintage: Colleen's blog features the great stuff she finds, mostly at garage and estate sales, outside Philadelphia. She clearly has both a good eye and the requisite good luck.
  • lala-on-the-gogo is the personal blog of thrift webside goddess Lala (Thriftland: One Girl's Adventures in Secondhand Shopping). You should check out both of them.
  • My Thrifting Finds is a newish blog featuring photographs of my online pal Tilia's thrifted finds.
  • Thrift Candy: this blog features both blog owner Missa's original thrifts and her favorite picks from Flickr's 100% Thrifted and Nifty Thrift pools. She describes herself as a "kid in a candy store" and it comes through in her positive and fun (though stylistically very plain) blog.
  • The Thrift Shopper isn't so much a blog as a thifting information page, review site, and community.
  • Thrifting in Oblivion is a how-to blog about thrifting in the Southwest US (particularly the New Orleans area). It features photographed trips to thrift stores and salvage yards, thrifting tips, etc.
  • Thrifty Goodness: a combo craft and thrifting blog.
  • Queen of Fifty Cents uses her blog mainly to chronicle her Saturday morning garage sale and estate sale adventures. They're worth reading.

18 Comments

Thanks for the list!
I've been wondering where all the thrifters were.
Maybe I'll be motivated to post more myself.

I love reading about all of your thrifting! I am so lost about how to do it myself, though. It's such a pain to go to a normal store with my girls, where I can walk in, grab what I want, and walk out. How could I possibly dig through anything with them in tow? Sigh. Maybe some day! Anyways, I will live vicariously through you :)

p.s. my friend Stephanie is in to thrifting, and though she doesn't have a devoted thrifting blog, she does talk about it quite a bit. You can find her at http://wewerebuilttolast.blogspot.com/

I just started my "Thrift" blog today, I would like to be added to your list please.

Here's some more:

www.peas-porridge.blogspot.com is my blog with thrift and estate sale finds as well as crafting, repairing and sustainable living topics

http://thriftymissprissy.typepad.com/thrifty_miss_priss/
has good style ideas as well as vintage finds

http://mydealoftheday.blogspot.com/
aka Monkeybox. garage sale finds and various adventures.

http://jennifersjunkylife.typepad.com/whimsical_junk/
cool finds, recipes and sustainable living topics such as raising chickens

Please add these to the list!

Great list! I hadn't run across some of these, so thanks a bunch.

My friend Brian has an amazing blog called Manic Thrift Store Shopper.

Also, I'm one of the bloggers behind Thrifted Sisters.

Thanks for the links. I also love thrifting and hearing about other thrifting finds.

I love thrift blogging and reading other people's blogs about thrift shopping. I wish there was more of a community atmosphere around it. I own thriftshoppin.com and would love to be included in the list!

here is my thrifting blog!

Would love for you to check out my thrift-fashion/thrifting trends/thrifting runway blog.

www.stylespotrun.com

THANKS! This list was GREAT.

xo,
Poca

Hi my name is Lindsey and I write a blog called Thrift and Shout. It is a blog about fashion and home decor found at thrift stores. I would love for you to come check out my blog and see if it would be a valuable addition to your list! Thanks so much!

I love to thrift and I'm not new to blogging, but have recently started a new blog for the topic as well. Would love to be added to list though I realize I'm a newbie!

Thanks! I've started a thrift blog (fairly recently) and have been trying to connect with some of the wonderful people that blog the same stuff. There are a few on your list that I haven't come across yet! Will check them out. :)

Angela @Whatcha Find?
http://whatchafind.wordpress.com

Thanks so much for listing some thrifting blogs that I haven't visited! I started a blog a couple of months ago about my LOVE for thrifted items! Check it out..

http://vintagefrecklesandfinds.blogspot.com/

Thanks for bringing thrifter blogs on one page...please add mine as well.

Please add my link, if you think it's a decent blog " http://todayatthethriftstore.blogspot.com "

This is great! I just started a blog on my thrift finds www.twicethecharm.wordpress.com

Love to be a part of the thrifting community! Please add my page http://livetothrift.blogspot.com/ to your collection!

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Shopping in my closet

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picture in thrifted dressToday, I have to post to share a victory. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned out my closet. As usual, I had a huge garbage bag of stuff to give to Goodwill by the time I was done. Partially this is due to my having changed in size a bit since I started losing weight, but mostly it has to do with dumb purchasing decisions.

At the back of my closet, I found the dress you see here. It is (I think) vintage, and I thrifted it without trying it on a couple of years ago, for something like $2. At that time, it didn't quite fit--the lining was too tight across the hips and I was afraid I would split a seam if I tried to walk in it. When I came across the dress during my closet clean out, I put it in the "to wash" pile, rather than giving it away, in the hopes that a) I could get all of the dog hair off it (Ata sleeps in our closet) and b) it would fit now.

And it does. Ignore the dumb expression on my face in this photo and whatever is going on with my hair, and focus on that dress. How hot is that? I've loved this since I bought it, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be wearing it.

I am editing to add that if you are at all interested in clothes, you should read Kasmira at What I Wore Today. She's my new style icon. I absolutely love the stuff she puts together.

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Awwww...thanks! The dress looks smashing! Great find.

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Welcome to my world

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It occurred to me, astute photojournalist that I am, that my avid readers might like a look at this mysterious Bins you hear so much about. So I took my trusty (hardly) digital camera with me to thrift today, and snapped a few shots. I felt weird doing it--people were not looking at me in the friendliest ways--but I live to serve my adoring public, so here you go:

store from front corner
Here you see as much of the store as I could get in as possible, from the front left (near the entry door).

store from back corner
This is from the opposite side, the back right corner, and is once again as much as I could get in.

av refuse
This is a big pile of VCRs and DVD players. There is always a table like this, with what seems to be rotating stock. Makes me proud to be an American to see this, let me assure you.

clothing refuse
About 1/3 of the store is devoted to these tables of clothing. This is the hardest part to shop in, for me, as sifting through table after table of clothes gets tiring. In the rest of the store, things are mixed up so it doesn't get boring.

general refuse
Most of the store looks like this, with tables (and sometimes bins, like you see in the second picture) of what I'd call "general refuse." Could be anything and mostly it's not sorted in any way. This is my favorite part, because you'll never know what you'll find.

These pictures don't really give you an idea of the enormity of the stuff in this place, but they're a first try. Maybe I will get bolder as a photographer if I keep trying to do this. Looking at them, just like being there, gives me this combination of adrenaline (what might I find?!) and sickness (how did we get to be a society that throws this much stuff away?).

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Whoa, even I'm daunted. I've seen this sort of set-up on a smaller scale on market stalls and at festivals, but not a shop that size dedicated to it!

Good lord, I've never seen anything like that before in my life. It reminds me a bit of Amoeba Records in LA, which had a similar scope of ridiculousness.

Bands must love it there.

omg. I love the bins on sight!

I don't think we have those here.

If I come to your town, will you take me to the bins? Please?

That's just...staggering. I think I'd go nuts in there with all of the disorganization and the sheer volume of crap to sort through. It's almost kind of sad to look at!

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What do Vern Yip and Beanie Babies have in common?

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Back when I used to watch Trading Spaces, Vern Yip was always my favorite designer. I liked his simple, non-silly designs, and he seemed like the closest thing the show's designers had to a real person. So, when I saw that he had another show, Deserving Design, I was all over it. Now that I've watched the show, I love it even more. The premise is simple--Vern goes into the home of "deserving" regular folks and redesigns two rooms--one that they know is going to be done, one that they don't. "Deserving," here, means people who have given of themselves in some way. The most recent episode I saw featured a family who had fostered 62 children, some of them very high needs, and adopted 6 of them (all of whom had to have been under 12). Vern's makeovers focus on what the families actually need and how they actually use their space (and he uses tons of photographs, which I think is great), which is fantastic. What really gets me about the show, though, are the families themselves. The things they give to their communities and the sacrifices they make are inspiring.

So I was thinking about that. And about how, not so long ago, I was more focused on how I could help other people (my monthly giving, among other things). Lately, though, my focus has gone inward in a way I'm not proud of. And while I was thinking, I was, like I often am, thrifiting. At the south bins. Where I came upon an entire table of new with tags Beanie Buddies. Clearly these are no longer collector's items, I said to myself, but couldn't you have donated them to a homeless shelter or something? Kids can still play with them if they don't get destroyed here! And then it occurred to me that I could make that happen.

And so I came, inspired by Vern Yip, to purchase 40 Beanie Buddies. I had no idea how cute these things were! A couple of them (the octopus, the ladybug, the moose...) might have to live at my house and become gently loved dog toys. The rest, though, can go to a local DV shelter, or be saved for Christmas-time toy drives. What toddler is going to care of his/her lovey is still in style?

It's nice to wake up and remember why I'm here.

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So this is weird--my sister's dad sponsored a kid at christmas and the charity it was through said NO stuffed animals. Which I thought was weird....

good for you! You know those toys will be loved and loved well.

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Thrifting without blood

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The last three times I went to the bins, I left bloody. Each time, I reached into a bin and cut myself on something. A piece of broken glass, a piece of broken bed frame, and a third object I could not identify. Cutting yourself at the bins is both irritating and kind of scary. It's irritating because then you only have one good hand to dig through things with, and it's scary because you never know what infectious diseases could be lurking in the bins. An open wound is so not something you want to chance.

A normal person, after this happening three times, would perhaps take a break from visiting the bins. Or at least get some gloves. I, however, am not a normal person, I am an addict, and as such, I went again last night.

The best news? I didn't get cut.

The second best news? I only spent $5 and got all of this stuff:

thrifted loot

Here you see the following:


  • Two new Japanese-art printed file boxes, for Mark, as part of our effort at containing our office clutter, $0.50 each

  • A Better Homes & Gardens sewing manual, for swapping, in excellent condition, from 1970, $1

  • A new copy of Dorothy Allison's "Skin," for me, $0.50

  • An EUC floral wet bag, for a swap, $0.50

  • An EUC sugar and creamed set, vintage Pyrex, to swap, $1.00

  • A whole bunch of beading cord sets and necklace clasp sets, mostly for swapping, NIP, each originally marked $0.99, $1 for the lot

This is the kind of thrifting trip I need to strive for. Low spending, only items that have a purpose, and nothing physically large to take up a lot of space. Plus the Pyrex is SO cute...

1 Comments

I keep thinking I should carry some antiseptic wipes around with me, just for experiences like you describe. Glad you perservered, though--that's a great haul! Really love the Japanese boxes.

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Thrifting+organization=green crafting

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Ingredients:

beads + ribbon

Thrifted wooded rainbow beads + thrifted ribbon

Organization:

jars with beads

Beads disassembled from their original strings and organized in baby food jars. Jars courtesy of The Princess.

Craft:

beaded necklaces

100% recycled toddler jewelry (guarded by Illy).

1 Comments

Your love of crafts, organization, blogs, and kitties really points to you being an excellent candidate for librarianship.

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The pitfalls of being a thrifting goddess

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big pile of thrifted stuff

What you see here is my desk/craft table. Well, you can't really see it, but it's holding up this gigantic pile of stuff. See, this is the problem with being a prolific thrift shopper. What do you do with the stuff once you bring it home? The swappables, the giftables, the things that might come in handy someday...it's all here, taking up half of our office and driving Mark no end of nuts.

closet full of thrifted stuffWhat makes it worse is that I already have a closet full of more organized thrifted stuff, as you can see at left. Those bins are all full, so even if I were moved to organize the stuff that is all over my table, I don't really have anywhere to organize it to.

Honestly, I need to clear things out. If I don't have a specific someone in mind for a gift, and nobody is forthcoming for a swap, I should just donate it all back. An organized house and organized mind and all that.

But I probably won't.

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Yup. That seems very familiar, somehow.

ahem, there is the idea of never buying anything you don't personally actually need/have a use for immediately. :)

I was just wondering where you keep all the stuff you buy. Now I know! Hey, at least it's organised in some kind of fashion.

If it makes you feel better, I'm getting ready to move and not only is my place a disaster, since it's a studio there is no escaping it. Also, the amount of random clutter I've built up in a single year is eye-opening.

Hmmm, looks a lot like my home office. I do try to use stuff right away, but I admit I have a shelf in the garage for mistakes,er,donations!

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More good stuff

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Went to the Goodwill today (first time this week, go me!) and did OK--in terms of following the rules and in terms of getting some good stuff.

This first picture is my most questionable purchase. These are four Salton yogurt containers, for storage of homemade yogurt. I have no particular intention of making homemade yogurt. However, they are very cool containers. Which I do not need. So there's that.
yogurt containers

Another possibly questionable purchase, these are three Kindermusik book sets. I am not sure all the components are in each one, though. My intention had been to swap them, but I don't know if anybody will want them. They were $1.50 each.
kindermusik sets

These are two wooden alphabet train floor puzzles. I think they're new, they don't look to have ever been played with. I plan to gift one and possibly swap the other. They were $1.00 each.
puzzles

This is a child's knitting kit from Magic Cabin. It's all wool, and can be used to knit up two kitties. Should be swapable, I'd think. It was $0.50.
magic cabin kit

I absolutely love the old-fashioned style of these new ABC's flashcards by Dolce Mia. They cost $0.50 and I will likely gift them.
flash cards

I bought this Vera Bradley purse because I just kind of liked it, and intended to keep it. However, it is a discontinued fabric and seems to be new (though it doesn't have tags), so I might Ebay it. We'll see. It was $3.00.
vera bradley purse

This is my best score of the day, though it may not look like much in the picture. It is what seems to be a new (though again, no tags) Hearthsong Under the Sea canopy. The intention with this is definitely a swap. I paid $3.00 for it.
canopy

So, all in all, a pretty good day. Total spent was about $17 with taxes.

1 Comments

Magic Cabin is ALWAYS swappable, IME.

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Progress

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I sold the Little People village for $66, and the merino yarn is bid over $30 already. Life is good there.

Also, in my first month on Weight Watchers, I am down 11 lbs. I feel really great about it and am already looking and feeling better.

These things do not suck.

4 Comments

That's great! 11 pounds! :)

The debt reduction thing on the right side of your page continues to impress me.

Maybe with the debt reduction and eBaying, you're revealing the secret that you really ought to be an investment banker.

Good work on the WW - I hope that you are feeling better independent of the scale # too : ) I always feel better when I'm eating healthily. Mmm - bring on the fruit salad! I always think fruit salad tastes like candy - only more refreshing.

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Following my own rules

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Since I shared my thrifting rules, let's see how well I have managed to follow them these past couple of days, shall we?

This is a Vera Bradley wallet. I just bought it for myself because I thought it was cute and wanted a wallet with a window ID pocket. It was $0.25.
vera bradley wallet

This is a super cute pajama set, new in its cotton bag. I really love the old style pattern and the very light fabric. Sadly too small for me, this will make a great gift for someone a bit smaller than me. I've got a couple of ideas of folks who might enjoy these. $1.25 was the price, I believe.
pajamas

These new with tags Kelme soccer shorts are for Mark. They were $1.25.
kelme shorts

A bag of leftover Christmas cat toys, had for $1.00, is always useful at my house.
cat toys

These cute little suckers are Latitude Enfant Grannimals Emile and Emilien. I believe they were $0.75, and they're to be swapped, along with a previously thrifted animal from the same line.
grannimal

This wooden puppy puzzle is meant to be a gift for my small friend Zahni. I think it was $0.50.
puzzles

Here we've got two bags of bath salts from Austin's own Herb Bar. Either for my own use or for gifts, I can't pass stuff like this up. I believe each bag was $0.50.
bath salts

I'm not sure whether or not I should have bought these two things--a new in package set of paints and a set of watercolor crayons. I may be able to swap them. They were $0.50 each.
art supplies

In this picture, you see some sewing notions. A new in package spool of elastic thread, and two packages of waist interfacing. Each was $0.25. These will be sent to some of my sewing friends.
sewing notions

Here are some embroidery supplies. Two bags of embroidery thread and some linen embroidery cloth. There is also a spool of jewelry wire here. The big bag of embroidery thread was $1.00, the other stuff was $0.25 each. I have an online swapping friend who is learning to embroider, so the thread and cloth will go to her. I may use the jewelry wire myself, or send it on to another friend who makes jewelry.
embroidery supplies

These are die cuts and stencils with which to make Christmas cards. This is another purchase I'm questioning. They may be swappable, but I don't know. Each package was $0.50.
christmas stuff

These books were $1.00 each. There is a home owner's journal, which I am hoping to use to get some of our household stuff together pre-sale. The two stitching books are hopefully going to help me learn to crochet. If not, maybe someone else can use them.
books

These skeins of yarn are all 100% cotton. As I mentioned, natural fiber yarn is always in demand. This can either be swapped or maybe I can use it for my crocheting enterprise.
cotton yarn

My two biggest scores are these two pieces of fabric. The top is is six or so yards of Laurie White for Hancock Fabrics upholstery fabric. The bottom is what I think must be a whole bolt of cotton flannel. I have no idea what I'm going to do with these two, but I know someone will be able to use them. The upholstery fabric was $2 and the flannel was $3.
decor fabric

flannel

me in new dressFinally, I wanted to share with you all something I traded for. I thrifted a bunch of costume supplies for a little girl, and that little girl's mom made me this dress. Isn't it fantastic?

So what do you think? How did I do with my rules?

4 Comments

Love the cute dress!

I could use your thrifting rules. I get too enamored of things I have no need for.

One of my rules is to "keep it moving". I always have a bag going TO the thrift store. I regularly walk around looking for things I want to move out of my life and on into someone else's.

So that upholstery fabric? I have two reversible wrap skirts that are made from heavy duty (presumably upholstery) fabric. They're a-line and tie with grosgrain ribbon. Maybe you could do something similar? The dress is awesome!

LOVE the upholstery fabric, in particular!

That is an AWESOME dress. I really love the upholstery fabric, too. Go you with the thrifting. I haven't the patience for that sort of thing and so have too much stuff cluttering my house.

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My thrifting philosophy

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Remember my attempt to thrift for profit? And how it failed? I've recently found a few things that are actually worth selling, and that got me to thinking about that whole concept again.

But it's not in me, honestly. Thrifting for profit takes two things I really don't have: the first is commitment, the second is patience. So, instead, I have sort of developed my own set of thrifting guidelines. Which will I now share with you.

When I thrift, this is what I am looking for (in this order):


  1. Things that are needed or wanted at my house. I have a list (mentally, usually) of these things. There are some things that are seasonal or move off and on to the list, and some things that I am always looking for. For example, I'm always on the lookout for cool large sized glass jars with lids for food storage, button down shirts for Mark, dog and cat toys, and things that can be used for dog beds (particularly crib mattresses). Lately, I've been looking for heavy bottomed lowball glasses and appertif glasses.

  2. Things that others have asked me to look for: My friends and family occasionally ask me to look for certain things for them. I keep a list of these things in my day planner and an always on the lookout for them. I've been looking for a 10" glass pan lid in excellent shape for Mark's parents for a year.

  3. Gifts. I absolutely thrift for gifts and hoard them. Anything that is new with tags gets a gift-possibility once over (though most of it gets left behind as inappropriate for anyone to whom I give gifts). An example? My mom got three 100% cotton (she's allergic to wool) new with tags sweaters, all name brands (Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren), last Christmas. All from the Goodwill. Child friends very often get thrifted gifts, including Melissa & Doug floor puzzles and a Build-a-Bear train set, most recently.

  4. Swappables. For the last several months, I've been doing a lot of swapping on one of the Internet communities to which I belong. I really love it. Swapping is a much friendlier system than selling. I both look for things to swap that I know people want specifically and general items that always seem desirable. Mostly, this is craft stuff or cool toys. I always buy natural fiber yarn, embroidery thread, vintage knitting and sewing patterns, etc.

  5. Sellables. Even though thrifting for profit isn't my calling in life, I occasionally find things I know I can sell, and I definitely grab those. The Little People village was a recent example of this. Other times, I thrift things thinking I'll gift or trade them, and end up selling them because they end up being worth more than I'd expected. The big lot of mohair yarn I thrifted recently is an example of this. However, I try not to thrift anything with the expectation of selling it unless I am quite sure it is actually worth the time and trouble, which doesn't happen often.

Using these guidelines, I have definitely cut down on the worthless crap I bring home. When I pick up an item, I run through this list. If I doesn't fit, it shouldn't be coming home with me, no matter how cool it is.

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Bounty

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Some days, the thrift gods smile on you. I have my fair share of those days. Days like today, though, the thrift gods sweep you up in their arms and give you a deep tongue kiss, and you are powerless to resist them.

So you wanna see my haul?

First, two wool Army-style blankets, $2.50 each. These are to swap, as I know someone who is looking for them.
blankets

Next, a few things for my house. In this picture you see a small sized Borden French press ($0.50), two glass hinge-top storage jars ($0.50 each, can't ever turn those down), three cute jelly jars ($0.25 each), a collapsible cribbage board ($1.00), and a spice jar ($0.15).
jars and stuff

Here we've got two big boxes of K'nex. Well, mostly K'nex--one of the boxes is actually about half NBA-set Legos. It's gonna take a while to sort those out! $2.50 for each box. These I'll either swap or sell.
k'nex

Here we've got two floor puzzles, both in excellent shape ($1.00 each), an amazing pattern for a 20's flapper style dress ($0.50), a new learning to crochet kit ($1.50), and a pound of olive oil soap base ($0.75). The puzzles I can either swap or gift, the rest is for me. Maybe I'll even learn to crochet!
puzzles and stuff

In this picture you see a Ziploc full of spools of ribbon ($1.50), another full of buttons ($2.00), a new watercolor paid ($0.50), and a couple of packages of elastic ($0.25 each). I am hoping to swap these things with folks who can use them.
ribbon and buttons

And then there was yarn. So. much. yarn. All of this is for swapping. Unless I magically learn to knit. It was all $0.25-$0.75 per skein.

This is five skeins of pale blue Spinnerin Mona yarn, imported from Switzerland. It is 100% virgin wool.
blue yarn

Here we see seven skeins of dark purple Emu Superwash washable wool yarn. It's 100% new wool and made in England.
dark purple yarn

This picture shows a crazy twenty skeins of lavender Kid Mohair yarn. It's from the Italian brand Filatura Di Crosa. It's 80% mohair kid and 20% nylon.
lavender yarn

This pink yarn looks like it has been around a while, even though most of it is still new in the sleeve. It is what I think comes out to five skeins of 70% mohair and 30% wool yarn from Bear Brand's Loop-Aire.
pink yarn

Finally, in the miscellaneous yarn category, we have a big skein of blue yarn that I think might be synthetic, a skein of 100% wool yarn from Sensations in "green licorice," a skein of the Swiss Mona yarn in cream, and a skein of 100% Italian mohair yarn by Ballet in pink/lavender.
misc yarn

Hot damn.

7 Comments

I of course had to go check to see if that folkwear pattern had been reviewed at Pattern Review; link.

Damn - you'll probably do well with that filatura de crosi yarn - looks gorgeous. I'd be interested, but I don't go for lavender and my yarn box is currently overflowing... look at this listing:

http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/Filatura-di-Crosa-knitting-yarn-in-Kid-Mohair-Grey_W0QQitemZ300150652823QQihZ020QQcategoryZ36596QQcmdZViewItem

I could refer people to your blog on ravelry (big knitting site) if you wanted...

Grace, can I link this post on the green crafts carnival?

Oh the yarn, the books, the buttons, oh... You hit the mother lode. Why can't I find stuff like that. Lucky you!

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Thrifting finds

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Yesterday I actually thrifted something worth money. I think it's even worth enough to bother listing it on Ebay. This is, as I've mentioned before, unusual for me. I tried the whole "thrift for profit" thing, and I am just not cut out for it.

My score? A vintage 1973 Fisher Price Little People Play Village, in excellent condition, with most of the pieces (people, vehicles, furniture, etc.). For $1.

For a minute there, I felt like Betsy Smith.

little people village

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I scored on a lot of $1 items yesterday. My friend was w/me and I bargained for her! She got 3 huge tubs of Legos for $1 a tub. She was afraid to offer, so I did and they accepted!
Check out my $15 patio set.
Fun site!

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We have a winner!

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The random number generator picked naughty number 9, so the winner of my thrifting contest is the 9th commenter, Shoppista! Send your mailing address to avengingophelia@gmail.com, Shoppista, and a thrifted treasure will soon be on its way to you.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

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Thrift thoughts

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Remember the other day when I was saying that I am now too cheap for the regular Goodwill?

I realized the other day exactly what my issue is:

In the past, I've defended the Goodwill's right to charge prices as high as they'd like. My argument is that the service they provide isn't selling cheap goods--the stores are money making ventures to fund their job training and placement services. So if they can get high prices for their stuff, then more power to them.

Now, though, I think they've overshot their mark. Because the regular Goodwills seem to be less and less crowded, and the bins more and more, both with goods and with people. The implication of that, to me, is that they are selling less at their regular stores and more at the bins. Which in turn implies that other people are feeling the same way I do, and spending more time sifting through the bins and less time looking at the shelves in the regular stores. And, ultimately, spending less.

The bins isn't immune, either. I had a big stack of craft felt sheets in my cart the other day, 30 of them, and the cashier said $0.25 each. Which would have been a total of $7.50. How much are those new? Less than $5. But most of the time, it's great.

Recent finds?

A NIP Melissa & Doug backgammon set ($29.95 new) for $2.

A NIP Wilton cookie set (cookie sheet, cooling rack, and Christmas cookie cutters) for $1.

Really cool brandy snifters for $0.99.

Tye-dyed dog bed cover (woohoo!) for $0.75.

Oh, that reminds me--better go enter my blog thrifting contest. Today's the last day!!

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BLOG CONTEST: Thrifted finds for my readers!

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I've noticed recently that many of my favorite blogs feature contest. I just entered one at not martha fantastic cards, for example. Karen at chookooloonks is currently running one for a framed print of one of her photographs. Ree at Confessions of a Pioneer Women has ones with fantastic prizes all the time. So, I was thinking to myself, I should have a contest!

Here's what we'll do. You leave a comment. Tell me the types of things you wish you could thrift for, or you do thrift for. A week from now, on Thursday, July 17, I will use a random number generator to pick one comment, and I will thrift a fabulous gift for that person.

Cool?

Comment NOW!

10 Comments

1. Weird art. Hands down my favorite thrift store find. I like velvet paintings a lot but handmade weird anything, awesome.

2. weird books. religious or otherwise. once i found some weird christian clown instruction manuals. score!

3. scarves & non jewelry accessories--other people always find really awesome accessories at the thrift store and i never ever do.

4. furniture--I am too scared of bed bugs here and it is too hard to truck it home here.

5. glassware--i never find anything other than bad mugs, but i love containers and funny colored bowls.

My wife and I thrift for dress-up cloths for our nieces which we add to their costume chest when we visit. Why pay real $$$ at the Disney store for a "princess" costume when you can be a real bride. surgeon, pirate or almost anything else for a few bucks.

1) Yarn, especially wool yarn
2) 300-500 piece puzzles for DS
3) Wool sweaters for felting

1. Broken or non broken toy "playsets". Like toy buildings, barbie dream homes, GI Joe fortresses, etc.

2. "Squirrel babies". I think that's what they're called. They are these wierd stuffed animals that look like toy baby dolls wearing a squirrel suit, or a squirrel that has a baby's face+hands. They are really wierd.

1.wool yarn and roving and felt

2.kids clothes

3.fun books on CD

4.wooden/cloth/handmade kids toys & dressup stuff

5.cool cooking gadgets

6.waldorf school supplies (can you believe I've actually found some great books! The odds!)

I've been looking for cool vintage saucers lately, but they are a lot harder to find than you would think. I have a craft plan for Christmas presents, and I need some good saucers.

I love clear cut glass serving dishes. That is typically the only thing that I buy from thrift stores although I'm trying to get into buying more clothes there.

Shoes for my teeny little feet, blanks for tie-dyeing, and giftable stuff for Tali and the Village, mostly.

I thrift for glassware and pottery and antique bottles. Sometimes old, cool-looking boxes. I have a fetish for things that other things go in, in other words. :p

For me:
fabric, notions, patterns, vintage trims.

For my daughter:
Baby dolls, doll clothes, polly pockets, anything obnoxiously girlie.

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Thrift finds 3

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I once again neglected to take a picture, but a $5 trip to the southern Blue Hanger store during my lunchtime yesterday yielded the following:

  • A new-looking Build-A-Bear train, for a small friend's upcoming first birthday
  • Four much-needed ice cube trays, to freeze stock and pesto in at home
  • A vintage tin Pillsbury recipe box
  • A set of brand new Australia coasters with cool art on them (our coasters are disappearing like mad for some reason)
  • A stack of unused cross stitch cloth, in various shades of white and off-white
  • A stack of vintage 60s and early 70s knitting and sewing patterns

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Sad state of things

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Y'all, I never thought it would happen, but it has:

I've gotten too cheap for the Goodwill.

The bins has ruined me.

Yesterday, I went by a regular Goodwill store, as I was selling books at the store next door. Did I find anything I wanted? Yes. Did I buy it? No. Why? Because I thought it was too expensive.

I have long made fun of people who complain that the Goodwill is overpriced. It seems ridiculous to me. But yesterday I found myself doing the same thing.

To be fair, though, what I was looking at was overpriced. There were several of these jars (the large ones), available for $4.99 each. Notice how they cost $3.99 each new at Ikea. Yeah. That really is ridiculous.

It's not just that, though. I look at clothes, for between $3.99 and $7.99, and think to myself "but this would only be $1.25 at the bins!" I look at books for $2.99 or $3.99 and think "$0.99 at the bins!" It's bad.

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I wonder what would have happened if you'd tried to bargain on the jars by pointing out the discrepancy?

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More thrifting

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I forgot to take a picture before I put everything away, but I went thrifting again today (I know, I'm only supposed to go once per week, but I really needed a break from work so I went at lunch). I spent about $7.50 at the Southern Blue Hanger and got the following:
-four glass jars with hinge lids to keep grains/legumes/etc. in, in particularly good shape
-a blue wrap dress for myself (I think it might be too small though)
-for a swap package I am making for a little girl, two princess dresses (with easily removable Disney princess bits), a pair of fairy/butterfly wings, and a grass skirt

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Getting my thrift on

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So that thing about how I haven't eaten or shopped to combat stress? Spoke too soon. I did both today. Again, though, I remained fairly moderate. I went on my once-weekly thrifting trip, but I stayed in budget, and I ate some fast food, but I stayed within my daily points, so I don't feel terrible.

One of the new rules I'm establishing for myself, however, is that I have to post here every time I thrift, including pictures of what I bought and how much I spent. The dual purposes here are keeping me honest, and trying to get up an archive of my thrifted treasures (because I totally love it when other people do that). Today's trip wasn't that interesting, all things considered, but you have to start somewhere.

Location: Goodwill Blue Hanger North

The big thing I looked for on this trip was clothes for myself, along with a few things I owe to other folks. I don't usually do this well for myself on one trip to the bins, though.

skirt, shirt, dress

The first picture shows a pink and blue paisley box pleated Liz Claiborne silk skirt, a white and blue geometric floral Merona sleeveless shirt, and a sleeveless knee length blue cotton dress by Apostrophe.

shirts

Here we have two three-quarter length scoop-neck tee-shirts, by George (is that Wal-Mart?).
pj pants and sweater

Finally, a pair of blue and white plaid flannel PJ pants (there are never too many!) and a sleeveless green sweater from Old Navy.

Each item was $1.25. The thing I really love, though? These clothes are from horrific manufacturers (Wal-Mart??), but I did not in any way support those companies or the demand for their products. That's the beauty of it. That and this stuff will now be worn by me, rather than be sold as rags or worse.

I didn't just buy clothes today, though. I also got this stuff:

pillow cases

What you see here are five pillowcases--one geometric green and white one, and four tie-dyed one. I have a bit of a pillowcase obsession, as I change my cases every five minutes or so to keep allergies at bay. And I love these dyed ones. Mark, of course, hates them. They were $0.50 each, and although they aren't quite as cool as the stuff my friend over at Dye Tyke makes, they'll definitely work.

felt

This is three pieces of fabric. One is about 1/2 yard of yellow synthetic felt, one is about 2 yards of green felt, which I think is wool blend, and one is 1 1/2 yards of blue wool blend cloth. These cost between $1.00 and $2.00 each.

parisol and beads

These were my most interesting finds of the day. The parisol was $1.00 and the wooden beads (and there must be at least 20" of them) were $2.50.

Total spent, including tax: $19.49

3 Comments

Hey, thanks for the plug!

Nice finds at the thrift. Sadly, the charity (thrift) shops here in the UK are NEVER as rewarding as they seem to be in the US. I think the 'George' label may be Wal-Mart as this is the label used by a UK supermarket chain called Asda which has fairly recently been taken over by Wal-Mart.

Yup. George is Wal-Mart.

You got some great stuff!!!

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More Goodwill reviews

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Yesterday, the intrepid Princess and I hit some new thrift stores. In specific, we went on a troll of suburban Goodwills.

First, we hit the northern Blue Hanger store, which I've visited many times (and mentioned here) before, but the Princess had never visited. We both did well there for tiny amounts of cash. I got a heart-shaped box to turn into a princess box, some cute striped envelopes to use for packaging some bath products, a star-shaped silicone mold to make bath products, a bunch of Disney princess books (again, for collaging), and a beautiful small bamboo cutting board which will be perfect for antipasta. There may have been something else as well...and I spent like $6. The Princess stocked up on thank-you notes and some great wooden toys and a few books for her Small Man.

Next, we had had lunch (and made a much-needed hand washing stop--I really need to start carrying sanitizer in my car to use after Goodwill trips). Then we we continued up the highway to Cedar Park. Where we got lost, paid unnecessary tolls, and then finally found the Parmer Lane Goodwill.

This is a very, very nice Goodwill. It would be a great starter store for someone who isn't experienced in thrifting or is yucked out by it. It is extremely clean and well-organized (the books are alphabetized by author, which neither The Princess or I had ever seen at a thrift store before). We didn't spend much time in the clothes, but they look to be of pretty high quality and very nicely arranged (though not by size, which is so annoying). The children's clothing section looked particularly well-stocked, and I saw several racks of plus-sized clothes as well. I'd say housewares were the most lacking section in the store--only a few short aisles.

I snatched up a few more Princess books, but didn't see much else that would work for me. The Princess got a couple more books for the Small Man. Neither of us found as much as I'd have expected, given how nice the store is, but it was likely because we were looking for housewares and linens and not clothes.

Last, we hit the Cedar Park Goodwill. Another very nice store, this one with a few more housewares fewer books. Again very clean and pretty well organized. I didn't look at the clothes at all, so I can't attest to anything there. The housewares section was pretty extensive, and had some nice stuff. The Princess picked up some plastic glasses to use in her yard, some more thank you notes, and...something else? I got another box for collaging.

No major expenditures today, or really great finds (except maybe the bamboo board), but these are both stores I'll visit again. There is another store, the New Hope one, that is only a couple of miles directly down the road, so the next trip will definitely need to include a pass at that store as well.

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Goodwill: South Lamar

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goodwill south lamar2800 South Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704
512-442-8802

Store Hours
Mon-Sat: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Sun: 11:00am - 7:00pm

The Goodwill on South Lamar is one I have been to several times before, and it's always been pretty good to me. It's cleaner and better organized than your average Goodwill, which is always a plus, and it uses the same basic pricing structure for most items. However, this store also has a separate section of "better" clothing (lots of gently used and new Banana Republic) that are priced slightly higher (around $10 an item). For someone who doesn't mind going through and looking for these things herself, that's a bit of a drag, but for a less dedicated thrifter it might actually be a plus.

On my most recent trip, I didn't look much at the clothes--I've previously been discouraged by a lack of plus-sized selections. I spent most of my time in the housewares section, which was great. It's a good mix of used and some vintage pieces and quite a few Target seconds or clearance items. Things are reasonably well-organized and priced pretty consistently.

The book section in this store is only average sized and hasn't ever begotten much for me. The furniture is in a separate building, away from the rest of the store, and is very hit or miss.

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List 1: Thrifing finds

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Okay, it's March 1, and that means it's time for my first list, as per this month's NaBloPoMo theme. Since I spent the better part of the day today hitting a string of thrift stores with my good friend The Princess, seems natural that my list should tell you where we went and what I thrifted!

tin recipe boxes1. Goodwill South Lamar was our first stop. This isn't a store I frequent often, since it's way out of my neighborhood, but it's a nice store and usually has something to offer. Today wasn't any different--our first stop was the most worthwhile, at least for me. My best find was the two tin recipe boxes you see here, for $.99 each. No idea what I am going to do with them, but aren't they great? I also came home with a brand new Bodum French press for $1.99 (and we don't really need another one right now, but given my propensity to break them, it doesn't hurt to have a spare), a shirt for Mark for I think $4.99, two of these great calendars for $.99 each (and again I am not totally sure what I am going to do with them), and a princess book for a project I'll tell you about later for $2.99.

cat tower2. Our second stop was Savers South Lamar. I am not a huge Savers fan, but it was very much worth my time to stop there today. I found the cat condo you see here being enjoyed by Atticus and Illy, which is brand new, for $25. I thought maybe I'd overpaid until I looked for something similar online and found prices around $90 for something not so cute. At the cats love it so far. I also got a couple more princess books and an Easter Seals calendar (I needed flower pictures for a project I'm working on), for $.99 each.

3. Stop #3 was at Thrift Town. I've reviewed this store before. Nothing there for me today, though I considered buying a big bag of cat toys for $4.99.

4. Next, we hit another Goodwill, the Cherry Creek one. I've reviewed this store before as well. Today it was better than last time, though still lacking in the organizational department. I picked up a bunch of princess valentine's for $.49/box (again, I will explain why at some point in the future), some chi-chi bath sets from Target for $2.99 each, and the world's cutest salt and pepper shakers, new in the package, for $.99.

Then The Princess had to go home and tend to her wee one. Boo hoo!

5. On the way home, I hit the Norwood Goodwill, a store I haven't visited in some time (though I did review it a while back). Like last time, the store was very nice, but didn't actually have anything I wanted. The only thing I even considered buying was a plastic ladle for $1.99.

6. Finally, I went by my weekly stop gold-standard store, the Goodwill at MacFarlane. There wasn't anything there for me today either, but that's not surprising as it's been less than a week since I last visited.

All in all, a very good day. Had a wonderful time, got good stuff, and didn't spend an exorbitant amount. I really like visiting the stores that are off my usual beaten path. Looking at the GW website, I remember my plan to visit every GW in the area. I still haven't been to the Balcones location or the one on Brodie, or any of the ones in the burbs. Maybe next weekend...Princess, are you up for an adventure?

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Cody says he'll keep the baby again next weekend, so sign me up!

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Thrifting finds

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Now that I am not going to bore you with my daily clothing choices, what shall we talk about?

How about my other favorite subject: thrifting!

I have to start bringing my camera when I go to the Goodwill. You would not believe the crap I see. I am a committed re-user. There are very few things I won't buy used. That being said, it is simply inappropriate to see half-used bottles of Astroglide for sale. For real. Ew.

That being said, I did really well thrifting today. I bought an extra large collapsible dog crate, worth about $160 new, in excellent condition, for $15.99. We don't need it--we have one just like it--but the rescue can definitely use it. I also bought some Robeez in excellent condition (a gift for the small friend whom I hope to visit this weekend), and a few items for my crafting pleasure.

And these.

glass jars

These are a set of three super heavy-weight glass jars, from Italy, with cool slanted tops. We use these types of jars for all of our legumes and grains, and these are the by far coolest ones I have ever thrifted. I paid $5.99 for the set, which is probably too much, but I just couldn't resist.

1 Comments

I love those jars! I also love thrifting. Keep posting your finds.

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Thrift finds 2

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Some time ago, I started what I intended to be a series of posts highlighting some of my coolest thrift finds. Given my propensity to start and not finish things, it is unremarkable that my series ended up one post long. However, I'm picking it back up, so hopefully I'll remember to actually do it regularly now.

pie platesWhat you see here is part of a set of cool looking pie plates I've thrifted. I paid between $2 and $3 each for them. I actually also have a few more similar plates that don't belong in this set, and there was one more, a strawberry pie one, which I had to throw out because it broke. I'm still on the lookout for another one of those, plus the pecan pie, cheesecake, and quiche Lorraine plates that go with the set.

Internet research tells me that these aren't actually as old as they appear. In fact, I think they are part of the Royal China Country Harvest series, which means they're from the late-70s/early-80s. They don't have any branding on them, just a "USA" stamp on the back. So, they aren't worth much, or even enough to be worth my time Ebaying them, but that's just as well, because I love them and want to keep them.

3 Comments

those will look great hanging on the kitchen wall.

Holy shit, I love those so much. My parents had those when I was growing up and they seemed to practical to me (a RECIPE! in a PIE PLATE!). I love them!

That's "so" practical. Sheesh.

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Another thing that improves my daily life

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bodum cupA long time ago, Bomboniera posted about a French press travel mug. Then, after she actually acquired said mug, she posted again about its awesomeness. Since reading these posts, I have been lusting after said mug. But I have refrained from buying it, thinking it unnecessary, as I have a French press at home and a French press at work.

Well, yesterday at the Goodwill, I spotted the mug show at left, this Bodum model. New with a Target sticker stuck on it (probably the reason Target sent it to the GW). For $1.

How could I say no?

I'm drinking out of it today, and it is indeed everything I'd hoped. It doesn't keep the coffee hot for as long as my regular travel mug, but it also lets me make the perfect amount of coffee, not wasting any. Plus it has a great lid that actually closes so I don't slosh coffee all over.

Score!

1 Comments

I have one of these! I wish I had two--one for tea!

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Strange times at the GW

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Yesterday afternoon, Mark and I finally got around to pulling some stuff out of our garage and loading into the Element to take to the Goodwill. I drove it over to my favorite store, which also happens to be the one closest to our house. When I pulled up and popped the back open, the man on duty wrinkled his nose and told me, in nearly these exact words, that he couldn't take my cat-hair covered crap, and that I should throw it away myself and not expect them to do it for me. I was stunned into silence. The things in my truck were not exactly prized possessions, but they were not crap. They were what I would consider about median items for that particular store. And, as someone who visits that store about once a week, I think I'd know. I wasn't really angry that the dude didn't want my stuff--that's fine, that's his perogative--but I honestly couldn't believe he was so rude about it. And I checked afterwards--nothing in my car was on the posted list of stuff the Goodwill won't take.

So I drove the stuff home, and proceeded to forget to take it out of the truck. Then, today, I visited another Goodwill, this one closer to work (and one for which I desperately need to write a review, as it is fast becoming my second favorite). On a whim, before I left, I whipped over to their donation area and asked the two men there if they would accept the stuff in my car. They said of course, were very polite and kind, and even thanked me for helping them get it out of my car (there was a heavy piece of furniture involved). Then they offered me a receipt, thanked me for my donation, and sent me on my way.

I am thinking this shouldn't piss me off. I should be charitable and assume that the guy at the first GW was just having a bad day, or was allergic to cats (because I am not about to pretend my stuff was hair free). There was nothing insulting in my load of donations. Nothing that should be repellent to touch. There were no uncleaned Diaper Genies or half-used bottles of KY jelly, which are both things I have seen for sale in that store. I didn't do anything wrong. So it had to be something having to do with that particular dude. Still, a very strange experience, and one that left a bad taste in my mouth.

1 Comments

Is it possible this ass was highly allergic to cats and just didn't want the stuff near him? No excuse for his attitude, but maybe?

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Thrifting while plus-sized: a primer

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Anybody who has been reading this blog for any time at all knows that I am a voracious thrift shopper (in fact, I have a whole blog archive of thrift-related posts). However, something I may have been less-than-forthcoming with here recently is that I haven't, for the last few years, thrifted much in the way of clothing for myself.

Why? Well, there is a simple reason and it's one I'm not proud of: It just got too hard. Not only did finding clothes in my size in thrift stores take forever once I passed size 14, but sifting through rack after rack of clothes too small for me made me feel bad about myself. And though there was no moment at which I decided to stop trying to find clothes for myself at thrift stores, I slowly did stop trying. I still thrift shopped as much as ever, I just bought other things.

All of this would have been fine, of course, except that it didn't translate into me not buying clothes. It translated, instead, into me buying new clothes. For the last couple of years, most of my clothes (and they are significant) have come from Ross, Target, and New York & Company. I've even ventured to Old Navy and the Gap more often than I'd like to admit.

I have kind of a moral problem with that. I've been buying clothes that were made under bad labor conditions of chemically treated fabrics, then sold for less than they would be worth under a real wage system. And I've been doing it, basically, out of laziness and inability to deal with my own body.

It needs to stop.

And now there is another impetus--finances. It's been years since I've thrifted for solely financial reasons--I mostly do it for environmental reasons now, and because I enjoy it. However, yet another thing you know if you've been reading here long is that I am in debt. A not insignificant amount of debt. And I am committed to curbing my spending and paying that debt off in 2008. To do that, I simply can't afford to buy new clothes. In the past, when I've had a hate-on for my wardrobe, I've thought nothing about finding a sale coupon for NY&Co. and going to drop $200 or so there, or doing something similar at Ross. That can't happen now. If I want "new" clothes, they have to be thrifted. Because it's the right thing to do, and because I can't afford anything else.

Betsy Smith, the Resale Queen, who makes her living buying things secondhand and reselling them on Ebay, theorized on one of her podcasts that women who are what she calls "chubby" hang on to their clothes until they are good and worn out, since they are likely to have had trouble finding them to begin with. Because of this, there is a dearth of quality plus-sized women's clothes in thrift stores. Except, she adds, for clothes in "pre-gastric bypass" sizes, or very large sizes. Those you can sometimes find. This has been more or less my experience as well, and was part of why I stopped trying to thrift clothes for myself to begin with. I started feeling like it just wasn't really possible. I found lots of things up to size 12, and a few size 24 or bigger, but not much in between.

Given the memory of this lack of clothing in my size, it was with apprehension that I set out this weekend to try to thrift myself up some new wardrobe pieces. After all, I am actually bigger now than I was when I stopped thrifting for clothes for myself. However, I felt both resigned to doing it and compelled to prove myself wrong and actually find some nice things that fit. So, I laid some ground rules before ever leaving the house:

1. Actually look. Don't just skim the racks; take the time to look through them thoroughly. Rifling through them and pulling out things that look interesting for a few minutes at a time may have worked at a size 10, but it's not going to do the job now.

2. Look only for myself. Do not get distracted by things I could buy for other people (for me, this is really key). No matter how great something is, if it won't fit or work for me, it's not of interest.

3. Giving up and going to buy new stuff isn't an option. If you don't thrift it, you can't have it.

On Saturday, I made my first try. I spent three or more hours at my second-favorite local Goodwill. When this store first opened, I didn't like it at all, but it has grown on me. It's very large, and that helps. When I entered the store, I identified the sections that might have clothes I could use: sweaters, jeans, pants, skirts, dresses, knit shirts. I skipped the sleeveless shirts, capris, shorts, button-down shirts, and jackets, as those are things I don't wear or won't wear this time of year. The rest of the sections I took one by one, methodically making my way through the aisles. My initial goal was just to get as many things I could reasonably try on as possible into my cart.

Let me break here to say a word about what is reasonable to try on. This is, in my opinion, a very delicate balance. You don't want to leave things that might work for you on the rack, but you also don't want to frustrate yourself trying on tens of things that don't fit. For me, what works is to set a size range. In general (and if you know anything about women's sizing you know this is very general) I wear a 14 or an XL on the top and a 16 or an XL on the bottom. When I'm thrifting, I'll try on anything for the top that is 14-18 or XL, as well as big-looking larges. On the bottom, I'll try on 16-20 and XL, as well as the occasional 14 or big looking large. Dresses that aren't cut close I will go down to large or 14. If something just looks like it will fit me, I'll also throw it in the cart, as things can be shrunk or mismarked.

It took me about 3 hours to methodically go through the relevant sections in this large store. Yes, that's a chunk of time. If you don't enjoy thrifting, it's a big chunk. But once you get into it, it can be very meditative, plus you always see occasional funny stuff. After going through each section, my cart was piled high with maybe 30ish things to try on.

Now on to the dressing room. There are rules here as well:

1. Not matter how great a deal something is; if it doesn't fit you, it's not worth it. There is no price small enough to be worth subjecting yourself to having yet another thing in your closet that doesn't it. Same thing if it's just not flattering.

2. Unless you are a person who both can sew and actively does, do not buy things that need adjustments or alterations. You'll just end up with things that don't fit. There are a few exceptions to this, as in pieces that are really high enough quality to take to a tailor, but generally, thrift clothes should be wearable as-is.

3. If you don't like something, it doesn't matter how cheap it is, how great of shape its in, or what brand it is. There is no profit in having clothes you don't like. And you don't have to justify why you don't like it--just not liking it is enough.

4. Even if the first 20 things you try on don't fit you, the 21st might. You can't stop trying things on until you've given everything in the cart a chance.

5. Yes, thrifted clothes can be overpriced. Just because something fits you doesn't make it not stained/worn out/faded. The object here is to buy things you'll actually feel good about wearing, so skip the crap.

Using these rules, it took me about 20 minutes to try on everything I found. At the end of the marathon in the dressing room, I came out with a great pair of Seven7 jeans (size 14--good thing I tried them on!), a heavy green cotton Gap turtleneck sweater, and a black and white print vintage-style dress (size large--once again, I am thankful for the breadth of my size range). Maybe 10% of what I tried on. But all great wardrobe pieces, and at a total cost of about $20.

On Sunday, I made my second attempt, this time at my very favorite Goodwill. I went in with the same rules, but discovered that I could cut my rack-surfing time down some by skipping past things I know I won't want regardless of size, like faded jeans and very light colored pants or skirts (I just don't do light colors on the bottom). It took me only about two hours to get through the relevant racks, and my cart was loaded with at least 30 items when I hit the dressing room.

This try-on session was slightly less productive, if only because nothing I put on the bottom fit worth a damn. However, I came home with five new shirts (two long-sleeved tee shirts, two tunic tops, and a sweater) and a dress, for about $30, so I consider the trip a success.

Over the course of the weekend, I developed a few more tips to would-be plus-sized second-hand shoppers:

1. Do not rely on the plus-sized section. If your store(s) are anything like mine, the selection here will be spotty and weird, and most of the good stuff will be scattered throughout the rest of the store. To make matters worse, my local stores have started to mix plus-sized and maternity clothes together, as if they are the same thing. Drives me bonkers, and I have written to them to complain about it.

2. Expect it to be difficult and time-consuming. There is just no way around it. If you are above a size 12, and especially if you are above a 14, the percentage of the stuff in the store that might fit you is probably as low as 2-3%, and it's going to take a while to seek that out. Give yourself plenty of time. If being in a store that long irritates you, maybe try wearing headphones and listening to music or an audio book while you browse.

3. Be willing to try things on. This is maybe the most important thing. You have to be willing to try a wide range of things on to find the perfect piece or perfect few pieces.

Basically, like all thrifting, thrifting while plus-sized comes down to patience. It just requires a lot more patience than thrifting-while-size-8. For me, because of my current financial constraints, and because of how strongly I feel against mass produced clothing, it's worth it. I am re-dedicating myself to building my wardrobe this way (with a few caveats, like shoes, which really are impossible to find in my size). But that doesn't mean it's going to be in any way easy, and I forsee coming home empty-handed as often as not.

So, one of the things I am going to be doing in my daily clothing reports is noting where I got the things I am wearing. My hope is that the percentage of my wardrobe that was not purchased new will increase, and reporting on it publicly will help keep me honest.

Happy thrifting!

2 Comments

If I might add a few:

1. Wear a skirt and layers to the store--not every store has a dressing room, or there may be a huge wait, or there may be a small number of items you can take in.

2. Buffalo Exchange is pretty good for thrifting plus, also, usually most cities have a "consignment" store for plus sized thrifting. They was a great one in Portland. I have yet to find a perfect one here.

3. Check the men's section! A lot of plus sized collared shirts get put in there because of size, and jeans too. I usually just go through and look for patterns/colors I like and they often end up being women's plus.

4. Vintage sizes mean nothing....I have several dresses and skirts that have meaningless sizes (i.e. "6" or "32" yet fit me). If it looks like it might fit, just try it on.

Those are all definitely good suggestions, esp. the one re: the men's section. I totally should have mentioned that.

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Doll house reno

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One of my favorite holiday gifts this year has just been given, so I can share it with you all now.

About a month ago, I purchased a Ryan's Room A-frame doll house at the Goodwill. It came with several roomfuls of furniture for a total of $9.99. Retail for the lot would have been $150 or more, but it was in less than savory shape. The house's previous owner had covered much of it with marker scribblings, a house number, stickers, etc.

dollhouse before
(The photo is of a colorful wooden doll house covered in scribbling, stickers, etc.)

Knowing my small friend Y. was wanting a doll house for Christmas, I thought maybe I could do some touch-ups on this and make it good-as-new for her. Today, she and her Pepe came to visit us, and she left with this:

dollhouse after
(The picture shows the same doll house, newly painted in bright colors.)

It's amazing what a little cleaning, sanding, and painting will do.

Now, if I get the furniture done before her birthday...

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Weekend extension

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Can I just say how wonderful it is that it's only Saturday morning and I feel like I've already had a full weekend? Extended weekends are possibly my favorite thing ever.

I do have a good bit of work to do this weekend--revisions on my PR--but I can't even get worked up about that, since I feel like I have plenty of time and I'm still faintly interested in the project and I know it will be completely done forever in just a few days.

My blogging guru The Princess upgraded us to Movable Type 4 last night, so as I'm posting this, everything looks totally different. It's kind of disorienting, actually, and I think it's causing me to write in a semi-disoriented way, so I apologize. I have already noticed a couple of excellent-seeming new features, including post auto-saving. So I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Today we're making turkey pot pie. Doesn't that sound good? It's all rainy and nasty outside--what could be better than a pastry crust to deal with that?

I had fantastic luck thrifting yesterday. Not much for myself, but several cool swappable things. I also shopped some excellent online Black Friday sales at small shops yesterday, which I shouldn't have done, but couldn't resist. I should be set for bath products for some time. And a few gifts as well. I love Etsy. Speaking of, have you heard of the Buy Handmade Pledge?

I suppose if I am going to be typing, it ought to be on the PR. Or I could nap...it will be very convenient, as I've not changed out of my pajamas yet.

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On thrifting, for fun and profit

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Someone asked me recently how my thrift-for-profit venture was going, and I realized I hadn't posted a full autopsy report of that now-dead enterprise. I meant to, I apparently just flaked on it.

Anyway, thrifting for profit. First, I absolutely believe it is doable and that some people are very successful at it. I also absolutely believe that I will never be one of those people. It's just not in me.

See, the part of thrifting for profit that is time-and-effort consuming isn't the thrifting part. It's the researching what will make money, writing listings, answering questions, and spending endless hours at the post office. And I want to do none of those things. So, what I end up with is piles of stuff that either isn't worth enough to bother trying to sell or I am too lazy to try to sell, making the entire enterprise revenue-reducing, rather than revenue-generating.

Which isn't to say that there aren't still things I would buy and slap up on Ebay if I saw them--Ergos, new Dankso clogs, things I know will sell. But thrifting for profit in bulk, as a side business, just isn't going to work.

I've learned a couple of valuable lessons, I think. The biggest one is that just because something has "intrinsic" value (is well made, has lots of wear left in it, etc.) doesn't mean it has market value. I should have already known that, of course, but this experiment certainly served as a reminder. The second one is that my labor has worth, and even though the thrifting part is something I'd be happy to do for free, the rest of it isn't, so the whole thing would have to pay enough for that part to be worth my while. Which it doesn't.

However, having seen what I've seen by visiting the bins weekly or more for months, I don't think my personal consumption habits will ever be the same. The sheer volume of stuff that is thrown away is truly nightmarish, and it has definitely upped the ante for me in terms of how I shop. I'm not committed enough to go 100% used--at my size, I just can't put in the effort and time and heartache all used clothes would mean--but there are things I would have bought at a conventional store before that I won't now. For example, I spent a couple of month’s worth of thrift store trips looking for pint glasses recently. We wanted some, and they wouldn't have been much more expensive (and would have been immediate) if we'd just bought them new, but I know how much glassware gets thrown away, so I just kept an eye out for them until I found them used. Whether or not that kind of a gesture ultimately makes any difference I can't say, but it does make me feel marginally better about being a part of this over-consuming society.

My attention is currently on thrifting Christmas gifts. I don't think I'll be able to manage 100% thrifted presents, but I'm going to do the best I can, and I have a few things left over from my attempts at thrifting to sell that will work well as gifts. I'm working on feeling OK about giving the people on my list who are not thrifters themselves non-new presents...without getting up on a high horse about it. We'll see how that all goes.

All in all, I'm glad I conducted the thrift-for-profit experiment, as I think it has really opened my eyes and helped me to be that much more honest with myself about my consumption. I admire people who do it seriously--it's a butt load of work, and mostly not the fun kind. And I'm glad to be back to just being a recreational thrifter.

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Update on the Blue Hanger stores (bins)

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Having been to both Goodwill Blue Hanger locations in Austin several times now, I think I am qualified to tell you this:

The North store is far, far superior than the East store. It has AC, indoor bathrooms (that are not bad at all), it's not as crowded, the staff is nicer, and the selection and prices are just about the same. Also, they don't run out of carts and there are always parking spaces. Can't recommend it highly enough.

But don't go there and get all the good shit before me!

23 Comments

Hi, I live around the Austin area and am verrry familiar with the Bluehanger. I was the first customer in the door when they opened up North. Has it been almost 2 years? I remember they opened in Aug., but seems like it has been there longer than 1 yr. I know I started an email campaign about 4 yrs. ago and it took them a long time to open.

I wonder if we have been there at the same time?

I am on a temporary thrift store sabbatical due to car problems. SAD!!!!

Watch out for racial pricing!!!!

I have been to the Blue Hanger on McNeil three for four times. Shopping is hit or miss, as can be expected. What really gets me is the pricing. Yes the prices are posted but Hispanic customers get charged between .25 cents and .75 cents, where Gringos (White people) get charged full price or more. Today the cashier was very nasty when I commented about this. I got the name and number of the assistant manager and called him from the parking lot. He said they have had complaints about this before and offered to refund the amount of my purchases. I don't feel that this matter should be kept "in house". They need to lay down the law with the employees, one price for everyone. I don't mind paying the posted prices as long as the shoppers in front of me aren't getting a 75% discount based on race.

(Comment edited by blog owner to remove names.)

The problem is when prices are at the cashier's discretion, I get charged the highest price. Stuffed animals are priced small medium and large. Some of them are the size of a small child. I would think that is a large. One I had that was less than 12 inches in height, but the cashier charged the large size. I have also been charged more than the posted price, and when asked, the cashier's comment was, "That's what the price is."

Either they should have no posted prices and let it be completely up to the cashier and all be a guessing game or FOLLOW THE RULES.

(Comment edited by blog owner to remove names.)

I just went to the north location today as they were taking up the clothes for good. I am horribly depressed. I heard that they will now be moved to the east location, but it is not as clean. (I have also been told by several people who frequent that location that as a young white woman I should not go there alone) Who did you email in your first campeign? Any ideas who I should complain to?

Thanks

Comments on Racial Pricing. I shop at the North store and I must say it is most frustrating to stand there and check out and get charged more than the posted prices and you have watch at least 2 shoppers before you get charged much less than the posted price. And speaking of nasty rude checkers they have gone to so many hispanic checkers and unfortunatley I get the rudest in the store. When they will charge me $1.50 for a hardback book and my sister has checked out after me and been charged $1.00 now something is wrong somewhere. I live on less than $1000.00 a month social securtiy and need to shop at thrift stores. Goodwill has lost sight of what it was intended to do. Employee the handicap and give a bargin to those in need. I don't see a lot of need in the Hispanics who have basket after basket filled with merchandise taller than I am lined up against the wall. And heaven help if you are in the way when they make a run for the new merchandise that has been pushed out. So maybe it is racial pricing.

Why would the north hanger move clothes to the worsth side of town ? no one is safe going there we need to file a complaint with corporate goodwill

Thanks for answering my question about clothing. I've never been to the East location, but I heard it was mostly good for books. It appears they've basically switched the two. Now I have a reason to go East! I came home with a load of great books today. on pricing. . .I find it helps to get a more seasoned cashier. They just want to see the stuff gone! It also helps to be friendly. They are very nice people, so it's not hard. I am fine with the system they have. There are too many things to categorize it all. Categorizing nothing would be even worse.

The cashiers do ABSOLUTELY price items based on race! I have shopped there for years and witnessed this almost every time I shop. Whites are charged more. I will watch the cashiers with the "regulars", they will put a bag of toys on the table and get charged 1.00. Then the person behind will place one toy and get priced .50. Why? You choose, just go and see, and see how barbaric some of the people are shopping. Hitting, pushing, abandoning their children, grabbing, stealing. You know when I go I have to prep myself that I will not let it bother me and keep positive. Hey Goodwill, how about thinking about treating everyone the same and enforcing some shopping manners.

wow. I go EVERY day for the past two months and I am white and have never had a problem. In fact, one of the cashiers is white and the black man who works there is super nice and cute! :)

Wow, It is 2009 right? I never thought a forum about the thrift store offering the cheapest selection I've found in Austin would be riddled with so many obviously racist white people whining about getting charged a dollar for something that would normally cost much more. And I don't see how what others are charged impacts you in the least. Oh it's not fair, sure, but so many things in life as we all know are not fair. I'm just advocating you pick a more relevant cause. I mean a cashier using his/her discretion within a price range isn't like a judge or jury using their discretion...lives don't hang in the balance. You are quoted a price and you decide whether or not you are willing to pay it.
I love the blue hanger and am thankful for its affordability!

tks for the effort you put in here I appreciate it!

I just went to the blue hanger east and loved it. For the record, I am a white lady who went alone and had a wonderful time. Everyone was very respectful.

If you are a small size, you can find tons of women's clothes. It was great for me.

I am so very happy that the pricing policy has changed at the north BH to $1.49/pd. I no longer can afford to spend my money there, so have saved about $200-$300 a month. My saving account thanks you for this change.

I've gone to the east Goodwill and I have no idea why people are complaining. There has never been a safety issue any of the times I have been there.

I have furthermore never been pushed, shoved, grabbed, nor seen babies abandoned for the mad rush of clothing.

Charging 2 different prices for the same item is discrimination and should be stopped immediately.

I for one am really glad that the Blue Hanger is here and that you won't be competing for my clothes since you seem to think it's too dangerous to go.

Watch your personal belongings! I got pick- pocketed at the McNeil location. The management did nothing. They did not call the police- I guess they thought it would scare off the customers. I've witnessed 2 other robberies in the store and they did nothing. Leave your purse at home! And people don't watch there kids, they do push, shove, grab and I was also called a whore(in Spanish) because I wouldn't get out of there way.

I go to the Mcneil store all the time and never had a problem. I feel I get charged fairly. I am never bothered by anyone. I go do my own thing and leave. I just stay out of the isles that the ppl are mad rushing for.Its not liek I am really going to miss anything. I didnt know that there was a east location. Ill be sure to visit there as I am not scared to go.

No matter where you go, to get a good deal or to find what you are looking for there will always be rudeness, people clamoring to get there first. Stop complaining and just appreciate who you are --that you are more calm. If it is meant for you to have something, or to find it first, so it will be!!! I have only gone to the BH in east Austin, becasue that is the only one I knew about (I don't get out much) but it is as safe as anywhere!!!!

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BLOG CONTEST: What to do with a Beanie Baby?

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pile of beanie babiesI've long admired people who have contests on their blogs, but never put one together myself. However, an idea came to me last night while (what else?) thrifting, so I present to you my first ever blog contest!

First, some background: one of the reasons I like thrifting (and this may be true of all thrifters or may just be me, I'm not sure) is that I am sentimental about other people' stuff. I like to look at all the items for sale in thrift shops and think about where they came from and what they were used for and stuff like that. This is a messy business, however, when it comes to trying to make a profit thrifting, as it is difficult for me to force myself to buy only stuff I think I can resell and not stuff I think deserves another chance.

And there are always certain items that I just plain feel sorry for. Not the stuff that has clearly been used and loved and has come to thrift store to die--I'm fine with that stuff. Rather, I feel sorry for stuff that has clearly not been used. And more than anything, these days, I feel sorry for Beanie Babies.

Every time I go to the bins, I see no fewer than 20 Beanie Babies, 90% of which still have their tags on them. These have never been played with or used in any way. They were purchased to "make someone a fortune," and when they didn't, they were ditched at the thrift store. This is unbearably sad to me. And yet, I can't let myself buy the Beanie Babies and give them a better life, another shot, because I know I can't resell them and I have no use for them myself. I mean, what am I gonna do with an Army of tags-still-on Beanie Babies?

That's where the contest comes in. I want to hear all of your ideas for uses for these poor neglected and abandoned Beanie Babies. Come up with some reason for me to free them from their thrift store confines. If it figures into your equation at all, know that they can be had for between ten cents and a quarter each.

The best idea will get a prize. The prize is a secret. Go forth and participate!

15 Comments

All my ideas involve eviscerating them. Beanie Baby backpack? Beanie Baby blanket?

How big are they, anyway?

They're little--maybe 9" tall?

You know you want a pair of pants like Flea used to wear...

I'm sorry, I don't get it...?

You could always use them to make a version of the Campana Brothers' Banquette Chair: http://www.bonluxat.com/a/Fernando_and_Humberto_Campana_Banquete_Chair.html

Give them to a domestic violence shelter for the kids to play with or keep.

Flea from Red Hot Chile Peppers wore stuffed animal pants in the 'Higher Ground" video. (I just realized you may have thought IO meant flea from the Ms Boards! heehee!)

Hmmm... I will go search for links:

http://www.xmasons.com/stuffed_animal_pants/index.html

Once upon a time I had a surplus of beanie babies and instead of taking the time to sell them on ebay, I gave them to a family in my church who had 7 kids. 5 of them were adopted and 2 of the adopted ones had Downs syndrome. The happiness those beanies brought them was worth way more than I could have got for them online.

So I'm all for you doing anything with them that involves giving them to poor or needy kids.

1. Paperweights

2. Turn them into a bean bag chair

3. Fill a giant tub full of them and play in it like a sandbox

Will kids actually want these? I mean, do kids play with them? I'd be happy to buy a bunch and give them to a DV shelter or a gift give-away if they are something kids actually desire, but I don't want to give second-rate presents, you know? And I don't know any kids the right age to say.

First - Thanks for stopping by my blog and signing up for my swap!
About the Beanie Babies - my son collects them, but only like you are talking about at yard sales and thrift stores and no more than 50¢ a piece - if that much. As for other uses for them - animal shelters like them for small baby kittens and puppies to lay on and cuddle. But, the very best use for them is to send them to IRAQ - the soldiers love handing them out to the Iraqi children and they love receiving them. The soldiers can put several in their cargo pockets and hand them out. Often times there are drives around here to collect items for soldiers. You could donate them that way and not have to pay the shipping overseas.

I donated about 40 beanies belonging to my kids (I had their permission to do this) to a charity sponsoring children orphaned by parental drug use. They were really happy to have them...I would suggest approaching an organisation first to see if they could use them.

I agree that you should give them to charity. Little kids still love beanie babies...they're soft, you can position them in poses, and they are just SO cute! The firestation is my favorite place to donate stuffed animals. The firemen give them to kids after they remove them from their burning houses. It's something to keep them company.

Donate them to the local police force. They typically carry small stuffed animals for children that have been in accidents.

I would either donate them to a hospital, police department, or social services agency to give to kids. I liked the idea of sending them to Iraq. My kids are 2-12 and they all still love Beanies.
OR
cut open their backs, rip out their stuffing and fill them with rice or (can't think of the name) hulls, sew them back up and use them like hot/cold packs.

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Yet another treatise on thrifting

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I've never been a very good environmentalist. It's not that I don't care about the environment, or that I don't think there's real danger, but I grew up in a culture in which environmental protection was, or at least seemed to be, at odds with my family's livelihood, and there really wasn't room to be wishy washy on the subject, as we were just getting by as it was. As I got older, environmental concerns just seemed really far away. I can understand, intellectually, that we are running out of clean air and clean water and natural resources, but I can't see it in my day to day life. Which makes it hard to justify making sacrifices. Sure, I recycle and try to curb my use of nasty chemicals, but I still waste and waste like a typical American.

Well, it's come home lately.

Since I've started frequenting the bins, I've been told that the stock at the stores turns over at least once a day, and that what doesn't sell gets thrown away. I didn't really believe that, though--I mean, how can it really be true that hundreds (thousands?) of pounds of stuff are being thrown out every day, much of it in good condition and almost all of it in usable condition? So I decided to try to find out for myself, and proceeded to visit one of the bins stores four days in a row.

They're weren't lying. The stock has completely turned over every day.

And I get it now.

We're killing ourselves with our own consumption. Creating these mountains and mountains of trash that isn't trash at all, until we're all buried under it, and all the time buying more and more new stuff. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, and guiltier than many. And, in part, I've justified my consumption by donating my old stuff to the Goodwill, with the idea that someone else will use it, and it supports a good cause, so it's OK. But it's become clear now that someone else doesn't always use it, and when I buy something to "replace" something that doesn't need replacing, I'm not really helping anybody.

So reduce, that's step one. Just buy. less. shit. It seems so simple, and yet it is the single most difficult thing I've ever attempted. Why is that? I can't see this resolving itself, but I'm hoping that the picture I now have burned into my brain of forklifts loading trucks to take usable stuff to the dump will help. I can literally imagine being buried under it all. It's a chilling image.

And secondly, reuse. And what that means to me, in part, is that thrifting has moved from a hobby to a business to a responsibility. I simply cannot, in good conscience, buy stuff new that I know I can get used. Now that I know, and have seen with my own eyes, just how much stuff is getting thrown away just in my little corner of the world, how can I rationalize adding to it? Sure, there are certain things I "need" to buy new (shoes are a good example, due to my size issues) or just can't quite stomach not buying new (underclothing, etc.), but for 95% of what I wear and use most days, there is no good reason to buy new. Yes, buying new is easier, but so is not recycling, so is driving instead of walking, so are a million and one other things that I and people like me all over the world are doing that corrode the planet. Easier just isn't a good enough reason anymore.

6 Comments

Great post.

Did you know that some of the stuff that goes to US thrift stores that isn't bought gets shipped to Africa? Containers and containers of it -- a quick web search tells me that in 2002, Ugandan imports of used clothing constituted US$22 million, and severely impacts local textile manufacturing.

Makes you think, huh?

Yeah, I have heard of that, and it is another major concern. These particular stores don't do that, oddly.

I was going to post what Anna posted, but she's posted it already. Although I didn't know/think about the local textile manufacturing angle. That sucks.

I don't know if you've seen this already, but I think it's pretty inspirational and very much inline with your recent posting

http://www.littlebrowndress.com/recycling%20journal.htm

Wow, that is really cool. I'm adding it to my links.

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Update on commerce

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Well, I'm a week in, and my first bunch of auctions have ended. Results thus far have been semi-disappointing. It's doable, I can make money at it, but it's a lot of effort for a little bit of cash so far. However, I know at least ten times as much about what will sell and how to sell it than I did at this time last week, so I'm guessing my next bunch of auctions will do better. And even if the profit margin is smaller than I'd like, it seems pretty clear that I can consistently make SOME money at it. And in the credit card pay off race, every little bit helps.

Which brings me to my other update.

On February 22, I posted the following:

Total credit card debt: $8,093.16
Total student loan debt: $33,674.75
Total savings: $163.77
Checking account balance: $11.69

Right now, I'm here:

Total credit card debt: $6,130.13 (though $600 is Mark's and will be paid from him ASAP)
Total student loan debt: $33,517.92
Total savings: $100.00
Checking account balance: $200.24

The other change is that my raise went through, so my monthly take home has moved from about $2,868.97 to $2,969.04. So...progress, albeit not quite as much as I'd hoped.

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You are doing great! Keep it up!

It is hard to do, but so rewarding!

Wow, that's a big drop on the credit card. Good work.

I got my tax refund, so that's why the big CC drop. But yeah, I generally feel pretty good about the first month's progress. Thanks for the kind words.

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Commerce

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Several times, I have been advised that the way one is happiest in one's job is to try to make money doing something you love to do anyway. I've steadily ignored this advice, since the one time I tried to make money doing what I loved (writing for a newspaper, in this case), it was disastrous. I ended up not loving it anymore, and it hasn't been worth it to me to try again, since I'm not willing to lose anymore passions.

Until now.

Another piece of advice I've gotten more than once is that I should become a personal shopper, since I love to shop, especially for other people, and can often find good deals on things and spot cool things other people miss. This advice has also been met with resistance, as I've said that anyone who can afford to employ a personal shopper is going to want to shop for things that are beyond my interest and shop at stores I'm not comfortable setting foot in. Nobody, I've said numerous times, wants a personal thrift shopper.

Except maybe they do, because that is what a lot of Ebay is--personal thrift shoppers. People who buy things at thrift stores and garage sales and resell them for a profit on Ebay. I knew this before, of course, but never did it myself, because I could never figure out how buying something for $5 at the Goodwill and selling it for $7 on Ebay would be worth the time.

And then last week I discovered the Goodwill bins, where all items of clothing are $1.25. Buy something for $1.25 and sell it for $7 and there might just be enough profit in it to make it worthwhile. And so I set out, for only the second time, trying to make a profit doing something I love...

I've opened an Ebay store, Your Personal Thrift Shopper. Right now, it's very heavy on clothes for babies and toddlers, because that's what I've had the best luck with finding at the bins, and because I've gotten a lot of wonderful advice on what brands, etc. are good for resale in that department. However, I'm keeping statistics of how much I put into things and what they sell for, and I'll be trying to tailor my thrifting (and therefore inventory) to meet whatever is in demand. That being said, if you have a size or item you'd like me to keep my eye out for, just drop me an email.

I'm sure, given discussions I've had here and elsewhere before, that there is going to be some flak headed my way for trying to profit off thrift shopping. It has been suggested to me that someone in my income bracket is somehow "cheating" by even shopping at thrift stores, much less buying low there with the intention of selling high(er). I've got to tell you, though, I've given it a lot of thought, and I see nothing to feel bad about. The stores in my area are stocked to the gills--there is no shortage of stuff to thrift. And the bins is the last stop pre-dumpster for most of this stuff, so buying it, even to resell, is keeping it out of a landfill, which I'm all for. Also, if it doesn't sell, and some of it surely won't, I'll either give it away or give it back to the Goodwill, so it's not like now that I'm selling things I'm going to stop giving. When someone buys something off Ebay that they could have thrifted themselves, what they are paying for is the time and effort it took the person who found, listed, and sold that item to do so. And I think that's a skill worth paying for. My time has value, and if this can draw that value out of the time I spend thrifting, then I don't think that hurts anybody. Much--even most--of what we pay others to do is stuff we could do ourselves, or could learn to do ourselves, and I don't see how this is any different. Just like anything else, thrifting can be a service.

So, if you are in the market for thrifted stuff, without having to dig through the piles yourself, keep an eye on my store. The stock should change often, as I thrift often, and as I said before, I'm happy to do what I can to fill special requests, just let me know.

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The majority of thrift stores are specifically set up to raise money for something, NOT to provide low-cost shopping opportunities for lower-income folks. They depend on higher-income people shopping there as well.

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goodwillbluehanger.jpg916 Springdale Road
Austin, TX 78702
512-928-8832

Store Hours
Mon-Sun: 8:00am - 8:00pm

I have not always been a great thrift shopper. I started thrifting in high school, but I had a much different attitude about it then than I do now. Then, it was about getting more clothes for cheaper, and about finding the kind of clothes I couldn't find in "regular" stores (sadly, I was a more creative dresser in high school and early in college than I am now). At a size 10 or 12, thrifting was easy, and I never had to get particularly good at it.

As I got a little bit older and a lot fatter, thrifting for clothes for myself became more difficult, but I never stopped liking to thrift, and in fact got more into it in college and after. This was for two reasons. The first is that, being on my own, I started seeing the value in thrifting for non clothes--for a long time, when I was most frustrated with my body, I thrifted only for books and housewares, and a large percentage of what is in my house is thrifted. The second thing, though, was that I started to really like to thrift for thrift's sake--going through other people's old stuff was just fun, regardless of whether I find something that works for me or not. And that, I think, is what makes me a good thrifter.

And my mind, the way you know a good thrifter is by what she can do at the bins.

To walk down memory lane again, I grew up with good thrift mentors. My mom isn't much of a secondhand shopper, just because she isn't much of a shopper of any kind and she lacks patience and willingness to spend hours going through stuff. My mom's next eldest sister, however, is a master. She calls it junking, rather than thrifting, and no store is too nasty, too crowded, or too full of crap for her. So, of course, it was with her that I went to Portland's bins.

The bins, for those who aren't familiar with the terms, are the place where the stuff that doesn't sell or isn't deemed salable from a chain of thrift stores (Goodwill or Salvation Army, in my experience) goes to die. The term "bins" comes from the fact that the stuff isn't sorted or on shelves or racks, but rather just dumped on large tables or in "bins" for patrons to sort through. In the case of the one I went to with my aunt in Portland, said stuff is then sold by the pound.

And y'all, I couldn't handle it. It was early in college when I went, and I was overwhelmed, grossed out, and scared that I'd reach into a bin and pull out a hypodermic needle or something. I just couldn't do it. And I haven't been to a bins store since then.

Until today...

In Austin, the Goodwill bins is called the Blue Hanger Discount Store. Stuff there isn't sold by the pound, but it's significantly cheaper than regular Goodwill prices (for example, clothes are $1.25 per item, books are $.50, etc.). The layout is just like I remember the store in Portland being--a big warehouse room of tables piled high with stuff. Not really sorted, other than clothes in one area, books in a second, and everything else in a third, and not very clean. Sorta smelly and questionable.

In all that silt, though, there is gold.

gwbinshaul.jpgAt left, you will see my haul. Total spent? A bit less than $20 (cat not included). For real.

This is what you're seeing in the picture:
A brand new cat scratching post, $3
A beautiful wicker sewing basket, $2
A stuffed snake (my dogs LOVE them), $1
Two wide mouth mason jars (I use them to hold bath salts, scrub, etc.), $.25 each
A burlap, plastic-lined reusable grocery bag with an organic coffee logo, $2
2 pairs of Banana Republic slacks for Mark, both in good shape, $1.25 each
A cool old-fashioned style bandana, $.25
A velvet bolero jacket/shrug/fancy cover up thing from Lane Bryant, $1.25
A red flowered Gap cami with built in bra, $1.25
A gorgeous black embroidered blouse from Lane Bryant, $1.25
Two pairs of capris for me, one Tommy Hilfiger, one Gap, $1.25 each
A fully lined black Le Suit suit skirt for me, $1.25 (which doesn't fit, unfortunately)
TOTAL: $18.75 plus tax

So, needless to say, I am LOVING the Blue Hanger Discount Store.

However, there is a caveat: if you don't actually like to thrift, don't bother with the bins. Seriously, it's not worth it. The prices are great, but this is a thrifting marathon. You have to dig through A LOT of shit to get to the good stuff. And some of it is nasty. I'm not just talking about seeing other people's old underwear, here, either--I'm talking about seeing other people's old potty chairs, vibrators, dentures, and syringes, and none of it being clean. And having to dig through it with your own two hands. It ain't pretty. I saw one woman there with gloves on, and she clearly had the right idea. There are no dressing rooms, but I wouldn't try this stuff on without washing it even if there were. There are no returns or exchanges, either--you buy it, it's yours.

Also, if you have a lack of patience, don't bother with the bins. This trip took me about two and a half hours. The stuff there is 90% crap, at least, and you have to get through it all to find the good stuff. It takes time.

If you are a small size, though (anything below a 12 I'd say) and have a good bit of patience and a strong stomach, you could practically re-outfit yourself here for not much money at all. And don't skip the non-clothes, either--I found some wonderful stuff in the junk bins, and if I had kids to buy for, I'd have really been in heaven. The only real loser section is the books, and I might just be thinking that because I had to see books thrown around in bins like that.

All in all, the Blue Hanger has to be the most rewarding thrift experience I've had in Austin. It's going to be my new go-to store.

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As soon as I'm up for going out, I'd LOVE to go with you sometime.

Excellent! I highly recommend you wait until your stomach is much stronger, though. It really is kind of gross.

First I'm going to get to the point where I can stand up for more than 15 minutes, then I'm going to work from there.

There is another Blue Hanger Outlet in Northwest Austin called Blue Hanger North - 12317 Technology Blvd., #300. Larger, air conditioned, indoor toilets, not as smelly, more stuff, just as cheap.

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Next-To-New Shop

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next-to-new.jpg5335 Burnet Road
(512)459-1288
Monday through Friday 10:00AM-4:00PM
Saturday 10:00AM-5:00PM
(but give them a call first, as I believe they are moving stores soon)

The last stop on my route was worth the wait. Next-To-New is a fantastic store. It is large and full of furniture and house wares, including the best selection of glassware and dishes I've seen in forever. Full sets, mismatched pieces, you name it, they have it. And tons of furniture, most of it in good shape and quite a number of things I'd actually like to have in my house.

Their pricing structure is also fantastic. They start items out with pretty average private thrift-store prices, but the prices are reduced based on how long items sit on the shelves. For example, I bought a gorgeous set of margarita glasses. They were originally priced at $10.00, but had been in the store for more than a month, so they were $5.00. If they had been there into the next month, they would have been $2.50. This I can get behind.

The clothing and books sections of the store are not particularly strong--stuff for your house is really where Next-to-New shines. It's going to become a regular stop on my thrifting list.

The store benefits St. David's Episcopal Church in downtown Austin. I believe it is run by their "ladies' committee" or something like that. As churches go, St. David's has pretty good politics--they stress diversity, and being welcoming of all people. They have a great program that provides box lunch-type things to homeless people in Austin, as well as some other admirable charitable works. I'm OK with supporting them.

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Good to know, thanks!

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Bethesda Resale Shop

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Bethesda Resale Shop
5353 Burnet Rd.
(512)451-2652
Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
1st & 2ndThu. of each month 4 p.m.-7 p.m.

My next stop was the Bethesda Resale Shop. This is an old-style thrift store. It's tiny, crowded, and smells kind of odd. The prices are lower than those at the previous stores, but still higher than the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Selection is limited, though they have a pretty strong plus-sized clothing selection for such a small store. They also run tag sales, where certain items are 50% off. The day I was there, it was women's pants and blouses that were on sale.

It took me less than 10 minutes to inspect everything in the store, and there wasn't anything there I wanted. Once again, though, it's probably a place worth another stop into some other time, as the potential for great stuff is always there, plus it's just kind of a fun place to go into.

Bethesda Resale is a fund raiser for Bethesda Lutheran Homes and Services, an organization that provides support services to people with disabilities and their families. The shops are volunteer-staffed and 100% of proceeds support the organization.

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St. Michael's Academy Thrift Store

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5907 Burnet Road
(512) 323-2001

(Note: I didn't write down the hours when I was there, and can't find them online anywhere, so I'd suggest calling for hours before you go. I know they are closed on Sundays.)

The next store on my way down Burnet was St. Michael's Academy Thrift Store. This was one I hadn't been in before. I haven't really been missing much. Once again, prices are higher than I think they should be for thrift, and the store is small with limited selection. I did run into a great colorful cotton sweater, which I bought for $7.95, even though I thought that was too much, but that was it. The clothes were mostly older and smaller sized, the books were nearly non-existent, and the house wares, as is generally the case in this kind of store, were mixed. Once again, it is certainly possible to find a treasure here, but you're probably going to have to visit often for that to happen. And you're going to pay a premium for whatever you do find.

This thrift shop is set up to benefit St. Michael's Catholic Academy, a private Catholic high school. Do with that what you will.

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Junior League of Austin Resale Shop

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junior%20league%20thrift%20store.jpg6555 Burnet Road
(512) 459-4592
Mon-Sat 9:30AM-5:00PM
Thurs evenings until 8:00PM

Having nothing of particular importance to do on Saturday, I decided to check out some of the small thrift stores that dot Burnet Rd. I started with the store closest to my house, the Austin Junior League Resale Shop.

I've been to this shop before, and never been very impressed. Their stock is limited and their prices are quite high for thrift. This visit was only different because they were having a sale--75% off all of their clothing. I found two Banana Republic shirts for Mark for $2-$3 each after this discount, which was great. However, that still makes their prices $8-$10 without this sale, and that's just too high for a thrift store, in my opinion.

Clothes are this shop's strong point--most of what they have is fairly nice, newer styles and brand names. They have a fairly strong maternity section, which I know can be the hallmark of a great thrift store if you're expecting. The book section is small and of no particular use. The house wares are mixed--I could see the potential to find a treasure, but the only thing I found on this trip that was worth a second look was a set of embroidered napkins, and I wasn't going to pay the $15 they were asking for them.

The store is very clean and organized, and always seems over-staffed. Customer service is a strong point, as the clerks there are very friendly and anxious to be of help.

The Junior League is a woman's volunteer organization. As far as I know, they do no evil, but rather are dedicated to a variety of causes, mainly having to do with kids (see their list of charitable affiliations here). They also give significant time and money to Animal Trustees of Austin, which is, in and of itself, a good enough reason to support them in my book.

I'll continue going to this store in search of the perfect item that is worth their high prices, but if you are looking for true thrift bargains, this store should not be your first stop.

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My grandmother found a Vera Wang prom dress for her granddaughter here. Price = $20.

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