Hello all! I hope you had a great weekend and Monday. Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite past times — thrifting. I love the hunt: I love combing through racks; I love reimagining objects and most of all I love finding a big score. Not all thrift stores are created equally so I’ll share with you my favorite thrift store haunts and also give you some tips on what to look for and how.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved shopping at thrift stores. Over the years I’ve seen thrifting evolve from something reserved for little old ladies, poor people, or the dirty little secret for those higher on the income ladder.
These days when I’m out thrifting I often see hipsters, suburban moms and even online/resale retailers. Thrifting has become cool and profitable. Unfortunately, thrift stores seem to have caught on to this and have raised their prices accordingly. Even so, you can still find deals.
Here is a list of things I routinely look for at thrift stores before hitting a retail store:
- Furniture: tables, chairs, bookcases, dressers, or anything will little to no upholstery.
- Home accessories: I find it hard to spend real money on chachkies so thrift stores are a great place to buy accessories at low prices. This is especially helpful when you need to buy a lot all at once in order to fill a large room or bookcase.
- Clothing: I will turn to a thrift store first whenever the kids and I need clothes (everything except socks and underwear). Most of my kids’ clothes came from a thrift store. So they’re accustomed to the routine: mom comes home with bags of clothes, mom shows them said clothes and then mom immediately washes the clothes. Recently, I hadn’t had the time to hit my favorite thrift store for the kids’ back-to-school shopping so I was forced to buy them brand new stuff. When we brought the new clothes home I told the kids to put them away. They were so confused by the fact that I wasn’t washing their “new” clothes. (Tip: before wearing your new thrift store clothing, wash or dry clean it.)
- Sports gear for kids: cleats, helmets, balls, bikes, shin guards, ski clothing, etc. Kids outgrow this stuff so quickly that you’ll often find these things in near new condition. When I first discovered the kids sporting goods sections at thrift stores, I felt a little something like this:
- Toys: games, puzzles, blocks, etc. Last year I found the original version of Operation and was thrilled because I loved it growing up and wasn’t quite ready to accept the new version — have you seen it? It’s a little disturbing. (Tip: whenever you’re looking to buy something with pieces, make sure all the pieces are there; if the box is taped shut, ask them to open it for you so you can make sure.)
- Baskets: everyone loves baskets, which means you’ll always find tons of baskets at thrift stores. (Tip: if you need a set or want your baskets to match thrift stores are not the best option.)
- Serving pieces and other kitchen utensils: Platters, large bowls, pitchers, appetizer plates, etc. can all be found at thrift stores for a fraction of the price.
- Belts: I know this sounds weird but for some reason every time I look at a belt rack at a thrift store I find a great belt. I recently lost my favorite gold belt. #dontaskmehow When I finally accepted I was never going to find it I went to a small thrift store by my work and voila! I found an even better gold belt.
- Frames: most of the frames on the gallery wall in my living room came from thrift stores. If you’re looking for frames and canvases for art projects, thrift stores often have these in spades.
- CDs for the kids: I know some of you may not know what a CD is but if you do this is a great place to buy music and books on “tapes”. Once I came across a huge stash of books on actual cassette tapes for 25¢/tape. It was too good of a deal for me to pass up. I didn’t let the little fact that I didn’t own a cassette player stop me. A deal is a deal, right?! I eventually found a cassette player but it was much harder than I expected. Now my kids will be one of the only kids in their generation who know the pains of rewinding cassettes…
- Books: I’m pretty sure everyone knows you can find paperback and hard cover fiction books at thrift stores. What you may not know is that thrift stores also carry TONS of kids books, really nice cookbooks, gorgeous coffee table books and reference guides. All at great prices.
- Magazines: I was really surprised when I discovered magazines. Apparently, people collect magainzes and then donate them in bulk. People also often donate fairly current issues. I love looking through interior design magazines from decades gone by because you really appreciate “classic” vs. “trendy” design.
Now that you know all of the amazing things you can find at thrift stores I know you’re dying to get out there and start shopping.
As promised, here is a roundup of my favorite thrift stores (click on the names to be taken to their websites):
- Goodwill: Everyone knows about Goodwill and knows they offer your classic thrift store items such as clothes, shoes, and household items. But what you may not know is that they also carry Target’s cast offs. Most stores routinely carry brand new, still in the box Target items (e.g. bedding, home accessories, rugs, furniture, etc.) at crazy low prices and since they usually keep the Target clearance price tag on the item you’ll know exactly what kind of deal you’re getting. I recently found an umbrella stand at my local Goodwill for 90% off what Target had been selling it for.
- Uhuru Furniture : This is my favorite, favorite, favorite place for furniture and home accessories. Their selection is always good and they get new pieces in daily (sometimes hourly). Plus, you can find their current inventory (along with pictures) on their website. They do a great job at keeping the list current. (Tip: Get thee a punch card because when you spend $350 you’ll get $20 off your next purchase.)
- Urban Furniture : They sell furniture and clothing but I’ve never had much luck in that department. For whatever reason, their household item section is incredible. I once got a collection of vintage glass serving pieces at Urban Furniture for a mere $12. I found the same set HERE for $89. (If you flip the bowl over and place the platter on top it makes a cake stand. It’s brilliant and makes an appearance at almost all of my parties!)
- Poor Honey’s: They always have tons of furniture and they maintain a pretty current catalog on their website of everything they have. The only bummer is that they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays.
- Urban Ore: This store might technically be a salvage yard because they carry toilets, tubs, doors (galore) and other large household items but they do have a pretty big selection of lights, furniture, tools, music, sporting goods, small household items, books and clothing. My favorite find here so far has been a gallon sized jug full of random nails, screws and other fasteners for $3. With this tub I will never run out of screws or nails and I’ll always have the size I need. My biggest regret also happened here. First, I’ll say I think their furniture prices are a little high. A little over a year ago, I saw the perfect dresser at Urban Ore but I thought they were asking too much for it so I didn’t get it. About a week later I realized I needed that dresser but when I went back to get it it’d been sold. I still think about that dresser that got away…
- Bambino Thrift Shop: IMHO this store consistently has the best quality stuff. If you’re not sure thrifting is for you and/or you get easily overwhelmed by racks and stacks of stuff, you should dip your thrifting toe here because the store is small and you’ll be sure to find something great.
If we’re being honest, I wanted to stop here and not share with you my absolute all-time favorite all-around thrift store. But since I’m trying to be a better person and sharing is caring…
- THRIFT TOWN: Without a doubt this is the best all-around thrift store I have ever shopped at. This is where I get my kids’ clothes and much of my own. There are several locations in California. I’ve only shopped at two of their locations (El Sobrante and San Leandro) but a friend of mine shopped at one in Sacramento and said it was just as good if not better than ours. I feel confident that if you hit up a Thrift Town you will score. Thrift Towns tend to be fairly big but they’re fairly well organized. They routinely have sales where they take 50% off of a specific category (e.g. kid’s clothes, summer clothes, etc.). You can also sign up to earn frequent shopping points but I rarely use them because you can’t use them on sale days and invariably I go on a sales day. I have found so many great things at Thrift Town it’s hard to pick just one. It’s a toss up between a 1950’s plaid, wool trench coat that is perfectly tailored for me that I got for $10; the 10 sheer curtain panels I got for $40; or the brand new Ann Taylor leopard print pumps I got for $15. Gun to head: I’d have to pick the pumps. #animalprintuntilthedayIdie
One last tip for you: when it comes to thrift stores generally bigger is better. The bigger the store the more stuff they’ll have; more stuff means more and better offerings.
There you have it. Now get to thrifting and share your finds with me.