Great Secondhand Shopping Finds
Secondhand Gold Mine
Secondhand shops - thrift, consignment, and vintage stores to name a few - can be found almost anywhere. Furniture, clothing, art, housewares, building supplies, and so much more can be found if you open your mind to the possibilities. And it does take an open mind! If you like the shiny and new, you might be disappointed. However, shiny and like new is out there for anyone willing to look for it.
To help you see the potential out there, I'm sharing my favorite secondhand shopping finds. I'll update this as I make new discoveries, so check back often.
The R.E.L.I.C.S. Thrift Shopping Method
Whichever kind of shopper you are, there is and art to it. Author, Ronda Polhill, wrote , a quick read that outlines how to find high quality thrift store gems and for those who are interested, resell them through a variety of markets. I really like her idea of a "running start" so new sellers don't have to learn the hard way like she did. The R.E.L.I.C.S. Thrift Shopping Method
The Two Minds of a Thrift Shopper
Grocery Shopper vs. Treasure Seeker
I like to split my mind into two parts (figuratively of course) when I'm thrift shopping.
The Grocery Shopper - I have list of what I'm looking for. I'm on a mission. My expectations are still pretty broad, but I know what to look for - such as the wool sweaters pictured here that I found for a project . I may or may not find the right match even for open-ended criteria, so when I'm thrift shopping, I'm also not on a timeline. I may have to go back 4 or 5 times to find just the right thing.
The Treasure Seeker - My inner gold miner is digging for any shiny thing to catch my eye that I know I have a place for. The treasure seeker sometimes has to be reined in, because I can find things I love, but if I don't have a place for them when I get home, they will soon find their way back to a donation bin. That being said, several items I'm sharing here were found with my treasure seeker's eye while I was looking for something completely different.
Which one are you (most of the time)?
If you're a thrift shopper, what's your favorite strategy for finding treasures? And why?
Original Artwork - "To Wit To Whom?"
This is one of my all-time great finds. I was sifting through the picture frames at Goodwill when I came upon this original intaglio print. I recognized it for what it was because my Dad is an artist and specialized in this art form for a time. This print was numbered and signed. I hadn't heard of the artist before, but I immediately loved the owl print with a little bit of a retro feel. I was powerless to walk away from it. When I got home, I looked up the artist, Nancy Nemec, and learned she was a reasonably well-known artist from New Hampshire who died in 2003. Her print was worth much more than the $7 I paid for it, and it's a beautiful addition to my personal art collection.
More about the Artwork of Nancy Nemec
- Nancy Nemec (1923-2003)
A brief biography of New Hampshire artist Nancy Nemec
Intaglio Printing Process
My dad has a whole studio with all of the tools of this impressive process in the basement. Art meets chemistry in this amazing art form!
Frame Your Own Work for Less
A few years ago, a friend taught me how to do hardanger stitchery, a traditional Norwegian form of stitchery involving simple embroidery and cutwork. I thought my first piece deserved just the right frame, but I couldn't afford the cost of professional framing.
It took a few visits but I finally found just the right frame. Originally, it was a commercially framed Beatrix Potter print, but it didn't take me any time at all to remove the original contents, stretch my stitchery on a mounting board, and have it hanging on the wall in my home. I don't think I could have found a more perfect frame if I had gone to the frame shop and paid 20 times what I did for this one.
From decorating your home to dressing yourself in style, this book has tons of information for how to do it affordably with thrift shopping and a sharp eye. Tossed and Found is highly rated on Amazon and is a great resource for the new thrift shopper!
Repurposing Jewelry Components
I love to look at the quirky jewelry that ends up at secondhand shops. The shops are getting a lot better at recognizing quality pieces and have begun to charge bit more, but who wants to pull apart and repurpose the really high quality pieces anyway? No, this post is for the unique pieces that might be missing a clasp or in their original form are just too out of date to be saved.
I made these earrings from two beads I took from a seriously eclectic necklace that didn't know any more if it was earthy or kitschy or just plain ugly. Any guess what material these beads are? They're a weathered cross section of deer antlers, and I think they make a simple, woodsy looking statement that complements almost any outfit.
The Big Ass Book of Crafts
Or another great place to find patterns and tutorials for necktie and other upcycle crafts is by Mark Montano. It is on of my favorite go-to sources for inspiration and instructions for everything from clothing to home décor and more. The Big Ass Book of Crafts
He does so much with upcycled items, it's exciting just to page through it!
You may be noticing a trend here. I love crafting with secondhand articles. And neckties are among my current favorites. So much so that I made these roses from neckties and a little hot glue. I also searched until I found more than 100 other creative projects and inspirations to use them for.
Visit 101 Recycled Necktie Craft Projects You Have to Try in 6 parts including bags, clothing, accessories, home décor, holiday décor, and a hodge podge.
Fishing for Cookie Jars
One thing you can always find at secondhand shops are cookie jars. Some are cool. Many are not! This happens to be one of the cool ones (at least I think so). I use cookie jars around my house to hold things like t-shirt rags for quick clean-up jobs and other small things that just need to be contained. I am able to match each one to the décor of the room and have fun with it. Click here for my article A Cookie Jar in Every Room - Cute, Kitschy, and Oh So Practical".
In doing a little research, I'm pretty sure this one is a Brush Pottery cookie jar. Some of these cookie jars sell for up to $100 in perfect condition. Mine has a few small chips so it probably isn't worth much in any antique or auction market, but it looks really fresh and fun on a shelf in my wine rack.
Great Stuff at Amazon
If you're not sure what to look for when shopping secondhand, this book is a great place to start. Find out where to find quality gently used items and how to recognize them when you find them!
Cute, Convenient, and Economical
Repurposed Wool Sweaters
There are plenty of documented uses for wool sweaters, so don't despair if you accidentally tossed your favorite sweater in the dryer. I like to look for wool sweaters secondhand (they frequently end up there because of the shrinkage, called felting). I wash the sweaters again in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer when I get them home to felt them as far as I can. This process tightens the wool fibers and shrinks them down, making the wool durable and easy to cut apart for repurposing. People always ask me if I made the design on this bag, and I tell them "No way. I would never work that hard." The work was already done for me.
I made this bag from a Colors de Benetton sweater that was solid charcoal gray with that funky pattern across the bottom and the cuffs of the sleeves. I just incorporated it into my bag design. My next wool project? A queen-size patchwork quilt. I can't wait to snuggle under it on a cold winter's night.
Thrift Store Jenga Becomes a Camp (or Family Fun) Tool
I lead a summer camp every summer for about 40-50 young people. I'm always on the lookout for new tools to use as ice breakers, rainy day activities, and to get feedback on how the camp went. I spotted this Jenga game at a local thrift store and inspiration struck. I remembered seeing Jenga used as a tool to test student's knowledge of what they had learned during an activity. I spun that and have now customized one game to be an all-in-one get to know you or evaluation game.
Visit Customize Jenga for Camp Ice Breakers and Evaluation to learn more about how I did it.
Link Party Connections
Here are parties and blog hops this page is linked to. Click on any of them to find hundreds more ideas, recipes, crafts, and much more!
Some readers might still need to be convinced that great things can be found at thrift stores and that the time sifting through the "junk" (remember, one person's trash is another person's treasure) is completely worth it. So please share...
© 2012 Monica Lobenstein