So after work today I hit up Value Village with the hope of stumbling across a treasure begging out to come home with me. However, the pickings were slim. Really slim. That and what was on offer was scary.
I didn't buy anything, hell, I didn't even see anything that I remotely liked. However as I was driving home, it dawned on me that perhaps it was time to share some of tricks of the trade with you. Perhaps you're a seasoned thrifter like myself. Or, perhaps you've been reading my ramblings and are feeling inspired to do some investigating but don't know where to start, or what to look for.
Therefore, I present to you -
Dan's ultimate thrifting tips:
- If it's your first time hitting up a thrift shop, scope out the shop - pick up pieces of interest and review selling prices. Examine how product is setup. Is the shop neat and organized, or is it a hodgepodge of merchandise? Who's shopping there? If it's like my favourite Value Village store it's filled to the brim with university students. If it's like my favourite Goodwill shop, it's a bit quieter and the shoppers are usually seniors.
- I'm always game to scope out a lot of the smaller thrift shops around the city. There are a lot of little church and hospital run shops on side streets that have some amazing deals....and the cutest volunteers working at them. Some of my favourite finds have come from little hole in the wall shops.
- The more often you visit, the more likely you are to hunt down that coveted treasure. I try to hit up a few of my favourite shops on a near weekly basis. As well, the more often I go, the pickier I get - if an item is still there after a few visits and I've been eyeing it up, then chances are that I'll go for it!
- While I love hitting up shops with friends, but I find that I thrift best when I'm alone. I'm one of those guys that likes to wander up and down the aisles, over and over - making sure that I've checked everything out at least twice. That said, if you're like me and you're looking for straight-up vintage and high-end glassware / accessories and you take along your friend who's looking for 70s folk art, then you'll do great together.
- I always hit up the aisles of my favourite shops in the same order. When I'm checking out Goodwill I always go straight for the furniture, at my Value Village I head directly to the books. There are a few pieces that I'm always on the hunt for - certain pieces, certain types of books, authors, et cetera.
- As soon as you see something that's of interest to you - grab it! When it comes to thrifting, there's no time to hum and haw about whether or not you're interested in a piece. After I've finished wandering around, and before I head up to the front of the store, I'll review everything that I've collected. More often than not, half of what I've found will end-up back on the shelf.
- Look beyond the sparse decor of the store, the random smells, scary people, dusty pieces, and general wear & tear. Some of my favourite pieces started out looking less than stellar. For me it's all about the potential. Think beyond the initial look of a piece....wood can be stained or painted, chairs can be recovered. The opportunities are endless!
- Know the retail value of the pieces that you're interested in. There are a few thrift stores that I visit on a regular basis that are notorious for up-charging pieces that are marked with familiar brand names. Ikea at Value Village? I think that I'll wait for Winnipeg's store to open. Vases? I'll check out the dollar store or wait for a good church tag sale.
- After a few months of hunting and collecting - edit! The last thing that I wanna become is a hoarder. I routinely go through my collections and edit out pieces that I'm no longer fond of - usually they end up back where I found them. I mean why not? My crap is someone else's treasure.
- Be safe! I generally skip upholstered and fabric pieces. Who knows what the previous owners may have done on that couch you're eyeing up? Also bedbugs are being to turn up more and more often in used upholstered pieces. If there is an upholstered piece of interest, look into how much it will have to have it reupholstered (it's less expensive to do that you'd think).
- And lastly, have fun! Open your mind and it's amazing what you'll uncover!
And there you have it. My secrets (well some of them....I can't give them all away). Now! If only the people of Winnipeg would start donating some decent pieces to have fave shops....I want to find actually come home with some pieces!
PS. If you're the lady that put that nasty doll with the straw hat into your shopping cart and you're reading this....burn that scary demon doll. It's horrific. That is all.