Thrifty Advice

12 May

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I love me some thrift store shopping. I don’t know what I love more, the thrill of the hunt or saving some major bucks. I love thrifting so much it’s come to the point that I hardly set foot in a mall anymore unless I have to and the only thing I really buy new is underthings, socks, and shoes. I’m so cheap thrifty that I even tend to scoff at thrift store prices higher than $5!

Now I’ve been thrifting since the time I could drive myself to thrift shops, some fifteen years ago (eep!), largely because my Mom refused to set foot in them. Growing up, she told me, she had to shop in them for clothes and that memory always put her off thrift shops. In the mid nineties, when I began going to thrift stores, it was not an uncommon occurrence for me to find great items from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. It’s hard to believe now, but I actually favored the ultra mod clothes of the ’60s and the hippie style of the ’70s over the feminine clothes of the ’50s. Ah if only I could talk to the me of then!

Nowadays, it’s not so easy to find great vintage items but it’s not impossible. I thought I would provide some tips for savvy thrifting. The pictures you’ll see in this post are a result of the amazing thrift store haul I had yesterday!

Tip#1 Take your time.

Stainless Steel “Little Brown Jug” Paid: $4 Retails for $60!

This may seem like common sense, but I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve taken friends thrifting only to be rushed by them to move on to something else when I still wanted to shop. I’d say at the very least, allot yourself an hour to really dig through the racks to find the hidden treasures. It’s not uncommon for me to spend at least two hours in a thrift store!

Tip #2 Be willing to dig

Sweet little cotton nightgown detail

This tip goes hand in hand with taking your time. Go to the rack of choice, and literally flip through all the items! Usually thrift store racks are pretty crowded with items and “the good stuff” can easily be buried in amongst the rabble.

Beautifully detailed slip

Yesterday I found a great haul of vintage slips and nightgowns that were hidden in the pyjamas rack with flannel nighties and the like. I actually ended up putting a few slips back for other folks to enjoy!

Detail of a sweet cotton and lace slip

Tip#3 Have a plan

Cool ’50s(?) apron

This tip has two parts: have a plan for how you’re going to tackle the store. For me, I always start in housewares. Not so long ago, I used to go to housewares last. Well this cost me an amazing $10 vintage Singer sewing machine, in its original wooden case! Ever since then, I head straight to the housewares. I then go to linens to search for fabric and other household linens.

Detail of a dishcloth find

From there I head to the dishes section and on to clothes starting with whatever rack suits what I’m particularly interested in that day.

Early 19th Century Ohio pottery maker plate. I’m still researching this find.

The second part of this tip is to have a plan for what you are interested in. If, like me, you don’t want to potentially miss amazing vintage sewing machines, you’ll head to housewares first. However, depending on what you’re searching for that day, and if you’re low on time, have a plan of attack to search for just those items that are at the top of your list. I usually have a running list in my head of things I want to find, though it usually seems like when I’m looking for something specific, I can’t find it!

Amazing Dritz sewing basket!

Tip#4 Educate yourself

Glorious scarves!

If you are interested in vintage clothing, head to your local library and check out books on vintage clothes! Read them, or at least look at the pictures to get an idea of the construction and silhouettes of differing time periods. If it’s glassware, furniture, early housewares or toys that have your fancy, check out books on that. Read blogs that are dedicated to the items you’re interested in. Learn about early construction techniques, vintage clothing labels, and early textiles. This will help you identify the real vintage items from those that are vintage throwbacks . . . though you may not care if you like the piece enough! Learn to identify quality fabrics, for example, I can spot wool on a rack from ten feet away! Buying quality items ensures that those pieces you do buy will last you for a long time with proper care and feeding.

Tip #5 Have Fun!

Detail of the apron fabric

This is the simplest tip of all. Just have fun with it. If you don’t expect too much, you won’t be let down and when you do find amazing things, you’ll be elated! Take a like-minded buddy with you as those are some of the most fun trips of all, even if you do end up trying to out-spot items from one another!

Well I hope you enjoyed reading my tips for thrifting. Did I not have an unusually amazing haul yesterday?! I’m still amazed!

One last thing, don’t forget to enter my giveaway, as there is still plenty of time!

Be thrifty friends,


8 Responses to “Thrifty Advice”

  1. elizaduckie May 12, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Useful and interesting info! 😀

  2. thevintagetraveler May 13, 2012 at 2:06 PM #

    The things that show up in thrifts continues to amaze me, but you are so right. It takes time to look

    • eileensbasement May 14, 2012 at 6:33 PM #

      Yes, time along with knowing what’s what are definitely the most helpful tools that I use to root out the good stuff.

  3. Stephanie/SwoodsonVintage May 20, 2012 at 1:06 PM #

    Take your time is the most important – I find the best things when the check-out line is too long and I loop back around for ‘one more look’! Love those slips!

    • eileensbasement May 20, 2012 at 1:12 PM #

      That’s too funny, I do the same thing and really, wonder at things that I ended up missing the first time around! Good point!

  4. makeitgiveit May 27, 2012 at 5:52 AM #

    Wow great giveaway. I just found your blog via – Casey’s Elegant Musings. I would LOVE to win either of these although the first would probably be my first pic and cheaper to send to NZ. Following along now!! 🙂

    • eileensbasement May 27, 2012 at 8:11 AM #

      Thanks for following! I’m sorry, but the giveaway closed on 13 May. I hope to do another one soon so stay tuned!

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