Ok, so I’ll admit it. I’m kind of addicted to thrifting. During the spring and fall as the weekend nears and I start to see yard sale signs pop up around town, my heart quickens. I just love the thrill of the chase of a great find! I’m lucky that my family loves to go on treasure hunts at garage sales as well.
I never used to waste my time thrifting, but having kids (and realizing that toys and clothes can be loved by more than one child) has made me a bit more adventurous. Plus, they just don’t make things like they used to, so it’s fun to see what relics I can find. I often post my finds on Instagram so I’ll get a scoff from time to time from friends who think I’m crazy. So, to enlighten and perhaps inspire the naysayers or those of you unaware of the fun of my side hobby, I bring to you some of the goodies from my thrifting adventures over the past couple of sale seasons. I’m including prices when I can, to give you an idea of what you can spend. (Or not spend.)
I just picked up these mini frames last weekend for 50 cents each. I’m going to paint them white and pop something cute in the frames.
Adorable sweater I scored for a dime at a school’s fundraiser thrift sale. (It’s Baby Gap, 2001.)
Wooden toy: 50 cents. This one has gotten a ton of play, plus I used it in a shoot.
$3 for this super suit and Miles LOVES it.
School desk and chair: $1.25 I’m going to paint the metal part of the table. Not sure what yet though.
This little soft corduroy top was so cute on Joss with some Matilda Jane leggings. I think it was 50 cents at Goodwill. (Didn’t find the MJC pants thrifting.)
I LOVE getting pajamas at garage sales. Miles was mixing and matching on this particular evening. Who wants to pay full price for stuff they sleep in? (Or in this case, play with fireworks.)
Wooden toy piano, $10 at a garage sale. John spotted it walking the pugs one morning.
Doll clothes: Vintage Cabbage Patch Kids dress. 50 cents.
This claw machine (complete with mini toys) was $5 at Goodwill and it got played with by many neighborhood kids and visitors.
Pug shirt for Joss- 50 cents.
The ultimate garage sale score was our new-ish Roomba for $25 from a sale of a woman who had a QVC shopping addiction. This thing has been cleaning pug hair for two years. It’s pretty much the most amazing find ever.
I’m kind of addicted to getting old mirrors and painting the frames. I have cut myself off though and drove by an awesome pair of two oval ones today. So I do have control over myself! I have purchased four so far, one for the studio. They are usually $3-$15.
Another mirror I found, this one at Goodwill.
Costumes for play and/or halloween. Since this one was plush, I paid $5. Oh and hey, there’s that gold mirror I painted white.
Kids umbrella. Thankfully Miles isn’t too ashamed to carry a pink one.
I never pass up vintage kid’s aprons either. 10 cents.
Both the shirt and the book was a recent find. Kids books are usually around 25-50 cents each.
I can’t remember what I paid (It wasn’t cheap, unfortunately, probably $40?) but I couldn’t resist this rainbow colored abacus driving by a garage sale one morning. I probably should have resisted considering it’s sometimes a jungle gym, but oh well.
This is a super cute Habba toy I snagged plus a vintage little dress I got for dolls that Joss tried on. 50 cents each.
This play doh candy maker has surprised me with it’s play longevity. $1.
Vintage fabric for a huge scarf. I’ve worn it a million times. $2. I just cut the edges with a rotary fabric roller.
This vintage syrup container was a good little pitcher for the kids for a year or two before I broke it.
I got this silly little hat at Salvation Army (or Salvo, if you are a hipster) for a dime and Joss was in LOVE with it.
This is another one of my all time favorite finds. A handmade, vintage romper for a quarter. It’s the cutest thing ever!!
Another bunny find was this cute little shirt for Joss this fall. 75 cents.
My thrifting notes:
Some people check Craigslist for sales in their area. However, I’ve found the best luck going for a drive running errands on a Friday or Saturday morning and just coming across sales by luck. I find when I try to hit a planned sale, it’s a bust. When people make a big deal about brand names in their advertisement, they usually have high prices. I hate it when people put $4 on a faded shirt, just because it’s from Baby Gap. Whatev! So I say just keep your eyes open on your daily drives as the weekends approach, in the spring and summer, and you’ll see plenty.
Goodwill can have some great finds, but not every time. I pop in and out of there when I have an extra ten minutes. I’m usually looking for picture frames, kid’s books, vintage kitchen stuff and of course mirrors. Frequent short stops beat long visits.
If I approach a sale and it smells like smoke, I leave. Smoke smell doesn’t wash out for my picky nose.
Be nice. I use this time to teach my kids about manners, counting money, saying hello and being respectful of other people’s property. A smile goes a long way and if your kids are sweet, they might even score some free toys.
My thoughts on bargaining: Only ask for a discount if you feel like the price is too high. I don’t bargain just for the sake of bargaining. I usually pay sticker price, however sometimes people are just silly with prices. I’ve gotten bolder with bargaining over the years, but I’m not a jerk about it.
If you ask for a discount, group things together. For instance, I was at a sale that had paperback books for a $1 each. (As if!) So I grabbed two that I liked and said, “Would you take two for a dollar?” They did. I think that went over better than just asking for half off.
Don’t expect a discount early in the day on the first day of a garage sale. (Especially on a Thursday.) At the end of the day, pickings will be slim, but discounts will run deeper.
Check out fundraising rummage sales held at schools. I’ve never done the big retail sales where people buy booths to sell stuff and the event takes a commission. I just have a feeling those are a bit too high. (I could be wrong.) Many of the items I have found for a dime were rummage sales at a school’s fundraising sale.
When approaching a sale, tell them what you are looking for. If you are clothes shopping for kids, ask them what sizes they have. My kids don’t have all day to be patient while I find what I need. Often times, sellers will come over and help me find matching items, or suggest things.
My last rule is that what comes in, must go out! I do a regular flush of the house so I’m not just accumulating “stuff.” I leave a lot of fun finds on the curb too because I just don’t have the room for it.
I love thrifting at homes from the older generation. I recently found a pretty cameo necklace for $1.25 and had a great time chatting with the lady at the same time. Women my grandmother’s age took amazingly great care of their stuff. Of course everything old is new again, so it’s a blast going back in time.
Ok, so you still might think I’m crazy, but I’m hoping I’ve inspired you to get out and see what treasures you can find and recycle a bit at the same time. I would love to hear some of your favorite finds! I know my friend Cassie finds some great stuff she crafts into new, adorable, useful items and she inspires me all the time!