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A Guide to Thrift Store and Estate Sale Shopping

Ever since I was a little girl, I always remember repurposing things. I liked being able to use things I already had when a need arose. It wasn’t until I was in high school that the antique/thrift store bug hit me. When my grandparents died, my dad stored their things in our shop. I would go out there and tinker through their lifetime of belongings . It’s where I found a cookie tin filled with their collection of watch parts from all their married years. And their camping lanterns that still had soot on them. There were quilts that my grandmother made. A lifetime of memories in these belongings.

My love for old things really grew from there. I love the stories behind them. Thrift store and estate sales are my favorite places to shop for my home. You just never know what you will find. There are so many one-of-a-kind things out there that hold history and beautiful patina! I wanted to share a guide with some tips on how I shop at estate sale and thrift stores.

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Why shop used?

  1. It’s great for the environment. Shopping second-hand helps reduce the number of items from entering landfills. It prevents waste by giving items a second chance at life.
  2. It allows you to stop supporting companies that use sweatshops or child labor. Shopping second-hand is very sustainable versus buying fast fashion. It may take more time to find the right items, especially when it comes to clothing, but it’s a great option for ethical shopping.
  3. You can create your own look and style more easily when buying second-hand. Although it may be fun to run to Target to grab what they tell you is in style, you will have a more eclectic, personal look by shopping at thrift stores and estate sales.
  4. Shopping second-hand is great on the budget. You really can get more for less by shopping used. This is especially important to me as I try and furnish our home wisely on a single income.
  5. You can really find quality items while thrifting. The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” is really usually true! The biggest instance of this is in regards to furniture. You can find things that are made of real wood rather than particle board! And the details and patina have so much more character!
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Strategy for Thrift Store Shopping

I know that a lot people turn away from thrift stores because they don’t like the idea of having to dig through old stuff. The thrill of the hunt is the fun part, so that doesn’t slow me down. But I do understand that it can be a time investment as well. I wanted to share a few things that have really proven to be the best strategy for thrift store shopping.

  • Go frequently. When I had two kiddos under two years old, thrifting is what got me out of the house every week by myself. I would go to goodwill every Wednesday with a coffee and spend time browsing. I wouldn’t always buy things, but I was able to see what there was and come up with new ideas for things. Thrifting can be a little tricky because a lot of times you can’t leave and come back to get stuff or it will be gone. This brings me to my next tip.
  • Download the Ebay and Etsy apps and be ready to search items. Google is great for this too. This helps you know if something may be valuable or what sort off condition the item may be in that you have found. Even If you aren’t into reselling items, it’s still great to do some research on what you may be buying! This has been really helpful in figuring out if a book is worth buying.
  • Have a running list either in your head or in a note about what you are looking for while thrifting. This has been especially valuable to me when it comes to books and to kids clothing. I try to be aware of what sizes and items that my kiddos are needing. Same with books. Browse booklists often to see what books you may want to grab when you’re out.
  • To keep my thrifting on the quicker side, I typically browse the store the same way each time. I head straight for the books, then baskets. After that I head to the home decor and kitchen items, and then finish in the clothing. Clothing items may take a little longer if you have to try things on, so I like to end in that area. Finding your little rhythm can make the hunt a little quicker!
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Strategy for Estate Sale Shopping

  • My #1 strategy for estate sale shopping is to browse online before going if you can. A lot of times, you may have to travel a bit to go to an estate sale, not to mention trying to go to several. You can get the app estatesales.net and also going on to Facebook Marketplace and searching for estate sales local to your area. You typically can peruse pictures of the sale to see if it is even worthwhile to make the drive. On the app, you can even bid auction style on some of them, and then all you have to do is drive to pick them up when you win an item. This really saves so much time and effort!
  • Don’t forget to haggle for deals! This is a perk of estate sales over thrift stores. Usually at thrift stores, the price is set. But at estate sales, you can usually negotiate the price down, especially if you are buying multiple items.
  • Look in garages and basements! I have found so many treasures in those places that most people don’t like to look.

My favorite Items to Look for While Thrifting

  • Children’s Books
  • Baskets. My favorite are of the primitive variety that are handwoven.
  • Candlestick holders
  • Old Kitchen tools. Once again, not made like they used to be! I love that they are useful and beautiful.
  • Vintage Children Clothing
  • Dishes. I like grabbing antique pieces I like and then I am able to start collections as I find them. Collecting fine china with floral patterns so fun, and I also collect these dishes for every day eating. I love starting collection and then hunting items to finish it.
  • Enamel Pieces
  • Brass Picture Frames
  • Antique artwork. My favorites to find are vintage lithographs and floral prints or paintings.
  • Chippy, wooden furniture.
  • Linen home goods. Tablecloths, napkins, embroidered pieces, curtains, etc.
  • Stoneware, including bowls, vases, and pitchers. Antique pieces are great to find!

I hope this little guide is so helpful to you as you create a unique and peaceful home!

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If you still don’t want to head to the thrift stores or estate sales, be sure to head to my Etsy shop!

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