Once Spring hits, my brain goes immediately to the thoughts of garage sales & thrifting. We finally come out of Winter hibernation to get our feet wet and hands dirty in the garage by upcycling and transforming those blah finds to be beautiful.
Hitting up a weekend garage sale or visiting a local thrift store is a great way to introduce unique, interesting, and inexpensive décor into your home. That “something special” is unlikely to be the same piece your neighbor picked up last week. Thrifting allows the opportunity to bring elements into a home that are meaningful and/or have the potential to be transformed or upcycled for little money. With the warmer days to come, it’s the perfect time of year to find some new fun and fabulous thrifty treasures.
With some garage sale + thrift hunting experience under my belt, these are 7 tips + tricks that I find helpful to find the perfect thrifted treasure…
1. The Best Spots for Thrifting
There are various types of venues to find used and/or thrifted items, including but certainly not limited to: thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, antique malls, and even the side of the road (my personal favorite because the “treasure” is usually free – major score!)
2. Keep a List
Looking for thrifted treasures can sometimes be overwhelming when you finally get to your destination, so having a list is key to staying focused. Either keep an ongoing list (I keep a list in myphone) or create one before you leave home. It will help keep you focused and evaluate what things you really need. If you have your eye out for a piece of furniture, take wall measurements ahead of time, so you’re fully prepared and aren’t questioning the size when you finally find “the one”.
3. Look for Good Bones
When on the prowl for thrifted decor, especially furniture, look at how it’s constructed; be sure it has good “bones”. The stability and structure of a piece of furniture is important for it’s longevity. If it gets the approval, using it as is or giving it a fresh new coat of paint will make the perfect addition in your home.
I found this beauty on Craigslist. It had dovetail joints on the drawers and felt very stable. At $50 it was a great score. After a paint makeover, it was perfect for my boys room makeover…
4. Think Outside the Box
When on the search for a new treasure, look beyond the items current state and imagine what it could be with a little TLC. Whether you decide to upcycle, repurpose, or revamp, think outside the box at the items potential.
Take a step back from an object and ask:
- Can I paint it?
- Can I reupholster it?
- Can I use it for a different purpose it’s original intent?
This is my FAVORITE part of thrifting… finding an ugly duckling that just needs a little DIY love! Like this clock to mirror makeover…
5. Look High. Look Low. Look Everywhere in Between.
Finding a secret treasure can sometimes be a challenge, but in the end, the result is often worthwhile. When shopping at a thrift store or garage sale, take an extra minute to scan all surfaces – the lower shelves, the higher ones, and every spot in between. O, and since the back corners are usually forgotten, they often have the best, hidden treasures.
6. Do you really need it?
When thrifting, having your list in hand will help you stay on track. When you find something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” or “Where and how will I use this?”. Even if the item is a great deal, it’s worth nothing if it can’t be used. And if you’re unsure, take a minute to think about it.
My most recent find which fell short of a treasure because of the price tag, is this awesome life-size metal windmill. How cool is it?! I spotted it while driving by a local shop & had to take a closer look. I asked myself, “Do I really need it even though I love it?”… At over $500 I passed, but I’m still thinking of a way to make it myself!
One of the beauties about garage sales or thrift stores is the possibility of getting your treasure for a lower price than marked. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If they say no, then you can ask yourself if the item is really worth it and how much money needs to go into it, if any. Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
The best garage sale finds are usually snagged right away, so grab a cup of coffee and start your day early. As for thrift stores, if you want a great deal, ask them if there are specific days they put out new inventory (I do the same thing with stores like HomeGoods & TJ Maxx). If you’re looking for something specific, ask them to call you if the item comes their way.
I hope these tips help you prepare and get you excited for thrifting season. And don’t forget, shopping is always better with others, so put on your comfy shoes and team up with friends or family who also enjoy a finding a treasure!
What have been your favorite garage sale or thrift store finds?