Ever since I started making a conscious effort to look beyond big box stores for my home, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Previously I felt all my thrifty attempts were failures.  I never got great deals.  I never found the good finds.  I hardly went and tried, so the vicious cycle continued.  Want to know what changed it?  Accepting failure and thrifting frequently despite failure.

I realize thrifters don’t score something amazing every time.  They probably leave thrift stores empty handed far more times than they do with a great deal.  The difference between them and me, is they kept trying where I had given up.  Until now.

I have grown bored with new things for my home.  I want to bring character, life, and interest into my spaces.  You just can’t do that with off the shelf home decor.  DIYing and hacking off the shelf items can only get you so far.  To truly add depth to a space I have come to believe you need something vintage, something with a story, something with some patina.  To find those somethings takes a lot of looking and a lot of patience.

After a few recent successes I am inspired to keep trying.  I tried a new vintage furniture dealer a few weeks ago and scored a great set of dressers.  Looking forward to another retro sale this weekend.  Then, I browsed antique stores for the first time.  I found a few antique treasures for my future studio.  Most recently I headed back to Goodwill for another try.

My previous trips to my local Goodwill have predominantly been disappointing.  Our Goodwill never has furniture or frames or great lamps like I see so many others finding.  But the reality is it never has those things when I go…on the rare occasion I go.  More frequent trips at different times throughout the week might make a difference.

This past week I went on a Tuesday during my lunch hour.  I must have been on to something, because there was no parking it was so busy.  I thought for sure with the crowd everything would be picked over and there would be nothing left for me.  Boy was I wrong.  This will probably be sad to some of you avid thrifters, but this trip goes down in my history books as the best thrifting trip to date.  I spent a whopping $12 for all the goodness below.

The first find was a couple mercury glass votive holders for 50 cents each.  I have a thing for mercury glass (owls, mushrooms, candlesticks, ornaments, and my own DIY mercury glass).  These reminded me of mercury glass votives available for $5-8 at West Elm.  I think this pair was originally from Target.

Mercury Glass Votives

The second find was this lone silver candlestick.  It was covered in candle wax and in need of a good cleaning.  The candlestick was $4.  A bit pricey for a lonely candlestick.  I bought it because the candlestick screws apart into several pieces, which will come in handy for a little DIY project I have planned for it.  More info soon.

Silver Candlestick

I found another baking pan to add to my budding vintage baking pan collection.  I know, I know, this one is definitely not vintage, but it was only $2.  It is much larger than the other pans I got at the antique store and has a different scallop.  Since I plan to use all the pans as picture frames, I figured once I flipped this one over and added a picture to the center only the scalloped edges would be visible.  It will mix in well with the actual vintage pans I found.

Tart Pan

Tart Pan

I also snagged this loaf pan.  Again nothing too special, I just liked the length of it and the straight sides.  It is a 12″ loaf pan.  It was $1.  The metal patina goes well with the other pans I am collecting.  I will probably use this loaf pan as a basket of sorts on a shelf in my studio.

Loaf Pan

I could not pass up this corked ceramic jar.  I have a thing for corked jars, too.  He was only a $1.

Ceramic jar with Cork

The best find of the day was this jar.  I walked by it the first time.  The second time I passed it, I actually had to touch it to realize it was actually a glass jar with a yellow plastic lid.  The shape was intriguing.  I flipped it over to see the bottom said Heller Designs Inc.  A quick google search revealed this was a pretty good find designed by Massimo Vignelli for Heller.  I paid $2.  Individual jars of this same size are selling for $17 and up on Etsy.  This pop of yellow will be perfect in my studio.

Heller Design Massimo Vignelli Jar

Have you had any amazing thrifting experiences lately?  What is your best tip for great thrifting?

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6 Responses to Thrifty Success

  1. Megan says:

    I totally agree with you on shopping thrift stores! I haven’t done so in awhile due to funds and trying to use what I already have but I’ve definitely done this in the past. There’s so much more character and interesting pieces than what you can find in a store today. I am addicted to mercury glass and the older pieces are so much better. Currently in my home I am working with finds from my husband’s grandparent’s home and my own grandparents’ houses. My grandmother is dejunking her house in order to move into a nursing home at some point so we’re getting a lot of cool things. Glassware, old tables, everything… I love auctions and will buy random pieces there too for super cheap. One of my favorite random buys was an enamel container that’s white with black lettering, maybe 8 cups or so size, and it says “This N That” on it. So random but cute.

  2. Jessvii says:

    Congrats on your purchases! I love the votives you scored. However, I wanted to add to the discussion regarding Goodwill (and Salvation Army, etc.). Sometimes, it really depends on which particular store you go to – not the name of the store, but the specific location/manager/etc. I’m not sure who decides what to stock each store with, but I’ve definitely been to some “good” and “bad” Goodwills. At the good ones, I can always find at least one thing I must have. At the bad ones, I frequently find nothing. For example, there is a particular Salvation Army in my area that always has the best glassware, ceramics, pottery, etc. There is also a Goodwill that has never convinced me to buy even one piece of glassware. I think this same principle applies to TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Ross, etc. There are some “good” ones, and some that consistently disappoint. It’s not just my particular taste either – at the Salvation Army I mentioned earlier, other people walk away with shopping cart loads of stuff! Meanwhile, at the Goodwill near me, people will be checking out with only one or two items. Therefore, if you can’t find something at a thrifty store near you, try, try and try again at other places! I hope information helps.

  3. Angela says:

    Love all your new finds! My husband often gives me that puzzled (“not again”) look when I bring home “treasures” during my thrift store hunting. But, it’s amazing what some creativity and elbow grease can do for a find that may look like junk to some. Don’t ya just love it when we find something and transform it into a beautiful decor piece or an addition to our collections?! And, for me … the hunt is part of the thrill! I could spend two hours sometimes in these stores and may only walk out with one item! :) Thanks for sharing this post!

  4. Meredith says:

    Hi. I’ve just recently stumbled across your site and have been very much enjoying it! I love finding things with great lines and then reusing them for another reason. It’s satisfying knowing that I bought something for $1 and made it function and look like something that cost $20.

    On the subject of thrift stores. You should look and see if you can find any thrift store “outlets” in your area. When I lived up in WI St. Vinni’s had one in Madison called “Dig N Save” where they sent all of the things that didn’t sell. Here in SC Goodwill has one. In these places things are priced by their weight, not by the individual item. For example, at Dig N Save in WI, all clothes were $1 a lb (there were certain days when they were .50 and for the month of November coats are $1… I scored a full length Liz Claiborne black dress coat.) All “household” and misc. items are .35 a lb. This means, all glass votive holders are .35 a lb. You know how many you can get in 1 lb??? Many! When I got married 5 years ago, I just kept going there off and on over a few months, and I’d pick up any small glass holders that had a certain look. By the wedding I had over 100, and it had cost very little money.

    You do have to be willing to put in time, and you have to know you might not find anything. Just take your allergy pill if you don’t like dust, and go for it! In most of these outlets they also have furniture for a set price. In WI I purchased a sold wood antique dinning room table that just needed a little TLC, all for $20. Look online for your area, and you may find even more treasures!

  5. Julie Hale says:

    Sign up for emails with your local Thrift Town or Savers, if they are close by. They actually offer special coupons and special on sales days. At Goodwill everything is a set price so somethings are reasonable under the system while others are not. They tend to have less expensive handbags sometimes real leather in the book bag section. Look at your favorite websites that you can’t afford and make a want list. Then take the list with you before you thrift. Go before the day before big sales days. They will have the stock up for the sale without the insanity of the crowd, and you can use your coupons. Typically, you can’t use coupons on sales days. You save almost the same amount but without the hassle. Certain times of years lend certain goods. Shop out of season. Buy summer in winter and so on. I have gotten awesome vintage peacoats in the summer for as low as $4.99.

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