Archive for December, 2010

TIP: The Best Shopping Days are Upon Us

From now until late February, thrift shops will be flush with merchandise. As consumers spend the last few days of the year cleaning out their closets in search of tax deductions, you will likely have the best selection in the next few weeks than at any other time of year. The more people donate, the fuller the shelves and racks become in your favorite thrift shops. The more the racks overflow, the better the shopping for you and me.

In addition to everyday items like clothing and household goods, you will probably see an abundance of holiday decor, toys and furniture, as folks make space for the gifts they received (or bought for themselves) during the most recent holiday season. So if you have the storage space, stock up on seasonal items you can use next year, as well as special items you can tuck away and give as gifts.



TIP: Look beyond original function

Pottery Barn's glass dome inspired me

A couple of years ago, I spotted a glass dome in a Pottery Barn catalog and fell in love. The particular one I saw was filled with colorful ornaments. It was very simple and elegant, I thought. So I began hunting for a similar dome or two.

This holiday season, I really ramped up my search and even contemplated paying $29 for a beautifully-shaped apothecary jar, which I planned to fill with ornaments. But something held me back. It wasn’t exactly the dome I was after, so I kept looking.

My $.99 dome

Then yesterday, at my favorite thrift store, there on the shelves were two cheese domes, complete with wooden bases, for $.99 and $.69 (not sure why they were different prices).

I didn’t really want the base, but I loved the round glass shapes and brought them home and cleaned them up.

Both now sit on my dining room table, full of gold ornaments, for a total of $1.68 plus tax.

My bargain cheese dome, filled with ornaments

TIP: Great Wrapping Idea

This Parents magazine idea for gift wrapping is terrific for thrifters.

Parents magazine sent out a link to an article on “23 Clever Wrapping Ideas” today and one idea, in particular, caught my eye.  Nearly all of the suggestions were crafty and cute but one stood out as the perfect wrapper for a devoted thrift shopper like myself.

The Santa’s belt concept is high impact, easy to implement and inexpensive. Use red wrapping paper around your package, or really any color, and then strap a leather belt around it as your trim.

I’m headed out tomorrow to grab as many leather belts I can find, given that they are usually in the 10-cent price range and I still have a bunch of gifts to wrap. Certainly much cheaper than grosgrain or wire ribbon!

Favorite Find of the Week

A cute little glass box for only $.79.

About three years ago, I saw a large glass house-shaped centerpiece that contained a terrarium. It was beautiful and I thought a lot about how I would decorate a tabletop glass-enclosed space.

I didn’t buy the piece that day and by the time I got back to the florist that was selling it, it was gone.

So this past week, I found a very mini version of that glass box. Although it’s a fraction of the size of the first one I spotted, I still like it. Of course, I’m not sure a terrarium would fit in something that is about three inches long and four inches tall, but I’ll figure something out. Final cost? Just 79 cents.

When a Bargain Isn’t a Bargain

My "bargain" Crocs

Last Friday on my occasional stop at my favorite thrift shop, I came across this pair of girls pink Mammoth Crocs in fairly good condition. They needed some cleaning, but for $.49, I was already imagining how well they would do on eBay. If you’ve bought this style of Crocs recently you know that they can run around $30 retail.

Because of the huge upside potential, I made sure to scrub the exterior of the shoes well and to wash the removable liners (twice) in bleach. They looked pretty spiffy as I dried them off and started to re-insert the liners.

However, as I wrestled with those darn fleece liners, I noticed that the two shoes were different sizes. Only one size difference, but they were not the same. Sigh.

So the lesson I learned the hard way is that just because a thrift shop has rubber-banded a pair of shoes together does not guarantee they are a matched pair.


Thrift Tips from Nate Berkus

The Nate Berkus Show is my latest new favorite TV show,  in part because on the first episode I watched, he talked about bargain items to shop for in thrift shops. Showing several ways to reuse and repurpose these items, he inspired me to start hunting for:

– Cashmere sweaters – to be cut down and turned into decorative throw pillows. The cableknit variety look simply stunning! Here are the instructions, in case you want to try it yourself:

– Silver pieces – I never really thought about looking for silver bowls and trays, but on my first trip to Volunteers of America, I found a cute Revere bowl for $1.99. Now polished, it looks very elegant.

– Candles and candle holders – I can’t remember if this is one of the items Nate specifically talked about or not, but I’m now hunting for candles and bases on which to place them. So far, no luck, but I know they’re out there.

– Ornate frames – I was already hunting for nice frames occasionally, but after seeing a frame repainted and reused, I’m sold! It doesn’t matter what’s in the frame, as long as you like the frame. You’ll put another picture in there anyway.

– Small benches – he did another show and talked about how to easily recover small pieces of furniture, so now little benches are on my shopping list.

– Vintage illustrated books – not sure if this is a Nate-inspired hunt, but after watching an HGTV show that showed illustrations being removed from a book and framed, I decided I would keep a more careful eye out for an Audobon book or the like.

What kinds of things are on your shopping list?

This is a larger version of the silver bowl I just bought for $1.99.



Pay pennies for new-to-you clothing and housewares

Imagine being able to buy pricey, but gently used, name brand outfits for your kids from Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister or North Face for a small fraction of what they cost new. You'll even spot furniture, silver and glassware for your home for less than a meal out. Or find something for yourself from Chico’s, J. Jill or Lilly Pulitzer and pay for it with the change from the bottom of your purse. Those are the kinds of deals to be had at thrift shops.

If you get a thrill from finding fabulous deals at thrift shops, consignment stores, and resale outlets, I hope you’ll visit this site often. You’ll pick up proven tips for saving even more on your thrift shop purchases, find the latest thrift shop news and information, learn about items you might not have thought to search for in thrift stores and get a look at photos of my best thrifty bargains.