When I was a kid, from the age of four to maybe 15, my grandmother used to let me tag along with her to the local thrift shop every Saturday morning after our routine stop at the donut shop for breakfast. As a child, I looked forward to my weekend stays at my grandparents’ house, and mainly because of Saturdays.
Saturdays meant indulgence. They meant chocolate milk and my fill of donuts as I sat on a phone-book at a counter way too tall for me in our local coffee shop. I was surrounded by all sorts of older people that held the same type of endearing and familiar draw on my young heart that my Granny did. I remember learning a few conversational French words from a woman who always wore the same bright green emerald earrings. She was delightfully fancy; and she gave me the impression even at my young age that life was something extravagant, just like her earrings.
Saturdays always started with the same welcomed groove: the both of us would pile into her early 1980s navy blue Crown Victoria, start the car and roll down the windows. The early morning sun’s rays would pour in on our faces like a welcomed gesture that we never despised. I’d turn my head and look up at her, with my little hand cupped over my squinted eyes and a big smile on my face because I knew the plan. I realized that on our Saturday dates together we never rode with the radio on. My grandma liked music well enough, but I think she particularly enjoyed listening to the sounds of the quiet neighborhood early in the morning, or the sound of her tires backing out against the gravel rocks in the driveway. She’d lean over and tap the tip of my nose with her index finger; the flash of a candy apple red painted fingernail was all I would see. And her smile. There was always her smile that let me know it was Saturday. It was shopping day.
Many seasons and many Saturdays have rolled on since then, but my love for thrifting has only grown! You’d think that the excitement of this pastime would have at some point fallen flat on me as I grew older, but I find that my appreciation for charming things that had an entire existence before I ever came along has only increased! There’s a special sort of endearing fondness for old things that can be new again, and a growing awareness that there’s room in our lives for the classic stuff that can still be fun and useful!
This throwback vibe is popping up more and more in vintage clothing and accessory trends and shabby-chic home decor. Each trip to a thrift shop can be much like an adventure: you set out with an expectation, find every turn of a corner to be more exhilarating than the last, and you reach the end with a newfound sense of excitement that carries you through until your next experience! Secondhand shopping is satisfying in a unique way in that we can experience the “thrill of the hunt”, gain an appreciation for timeless pieces, inspire our creativity and save money in ways never imagined.
Here are four essential things you should be looking to score when out and about flexing your frugal muscles at a thrift store:
1. Books & Artwork. Many times the book section of the store can be overflowing with classic fiction and nonfiction selections that span all genres, from dramatic thrillers to cookbooks to biographies to self-help and faith-based inspirational reads. Another perk of used books is that they can be up to a whopping 90 percent off retail value! Most secondhand stores are still willing to accept offers from bookworms that prefer to bundle up! Plus, the art to be found at thrift shops is truly extraordinary: classic and contemporary pieces such as original canvas paintings, decorative period sculptures, and elemental handmade crafts like intricate weavings and ceramics which require little to no restoration. The possibilities for upgrading your home, office or creative workspace with any of these fabulous finds are truly endless!
2. Silver. The bric-a-brac section of any thrift store can be intimidating. Many times, several items can be piled upon each other in what appears to be a hopeless, misshaped mess. Don’t let this discourage you! If you have the patience and the resolve, you will find that within these heaps of “junk” you can come across many valuable pieces like real silver, bronze, and sometimes even gold. Lots of cutlery, vases, dishware and candleholders are made from precious or semi-precious metals. Anything tarnished can be real silver, especially jewelry that may have once been mistaken as a costume piece. When browsing this section, it’s important to look for identifiable markings such as serial numbers, stamps, seals or engravings which can turn your random find into a one-of-a-kind experience!
3. Clothing. Clothes seem like the obvious find, as over 75 percent of most stores are comprised of racks upon racks of every type of attire you can imagine: well-kept vintage jeans and ‘just right’ distressed tees, day-to-night dresses and trendy coats and blazers of all kinds. Oh, and the shoes. We can’t skip over the wide array of gently used footwear that still has lots of life left in them. Another advantage of buying preowned clothes is that it’s a great option for women on weight loss journeys who find themselves between sizes. Whether it’s the staple jeans and tees, or the necessary office skirt and blouse that make up your wardrobe, a few key pieces that are thoughtfully curated can be a saving grace in any transitional period and can be easy on the wallet too!
4. Opportunity. The chance for hunting out those perfect pieces can be so lucrative! The world is full of consumers with an appreciation for one-of-a-kind pieces and trinkets, and a carefully curated pick can yield serious profits! Online shops and sources such as Etsy and ThredUp will allow you to circulate your vintage finds for sale. What can be better than shopping? Making money while you shop, of course!
We have all heard the saying, “Everything that is old is new again”, and it couldn’t be truer. Thrifting is a lost art that’s making its way back to the forefront of our minds. It’s nostalgic and it reminds us of what was, but it also invites us to imagine what could be. Next time you peruse the aisles of a Goodwill or The Salvation Army, try to keep that same expectation in mind. Let your eager eyes scan the shelves knowing that they will soon land upon the great find of the day. Happy thrifting!
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