How do you spot unique thrift bargains? As they say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, I say “Bargain is in the estimation of the shopper.”
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So what one person finds as an exciting thrift bargain, another might pass right by without even a second thought.
Score for person #1!
Even if there isn’t a handy little guidebook for thrift store shoppers to find those exciting bargains, there are some basic principles that will land you the good stuff time after time.
UPDATE: Now there is a handy little guide book for thrift store shoppers!
I’m excited to share that the How To Thrift Shop Like a PRO eBook is now available. It includes all ten hacks I use to find the goods every time I shop – and to transform them into fun and unique projects.
Get chapter 1 FREE when you sign up to receive To Work with My Hands email updates.
If you want to go straight to the entire book, click to get How to Thrift Shop Like PRO ebook details.
Thrift Store Bargain Shopping 101
Here are 4 quick ways you can find the good stuff when you shop:
Does it appeal to you right away?
The more you shop, the more you’ll find yourself gravitating toward specific types of merchandise. I never check out vinyl records when I shop and only assume they’re still easily found. They have zero appeal to me.
What I do seem to have a radar for is anything metal. I’ll at least give metal pieces a second look. Often they get serious consideration.
Find your favorites and take note of how you respond when you first see them on your visits. You don’t have to limit yourself to things that naturally appeal to you, but they’re prime candidates for an exciting find.
Does your potential thrift store bargain have elements that hint to a new purpose?
When I saw this metal magazine basket, my metal radar went off.
But a very close second feature that grabbed my attention were those faux ivy leaves that spoke loudly of the garden because…really!
Practically, WHO grows ivy in their magazine basket? 🙂
Mine grows in the yard, and that was all the inspiration needed to transform the basket into a fresh garden project.
Does it have potential beyond its intended purpose?
While not every piece needs to be (or even should be) repurposed, learning to see beyond an obvious use is exciting!
Can you add a new element or two and change its function? When you think this way, you’re hot on the trail of a great thrift store bargain.
A good way to train yourself to think like this is to look at the overall shape and see what it reminds you of.
Don’t labor long over this. If you don’t see it right away, step away and look at other things for a while. Come back a second time and see if inspiration strikes fresh.
Look beyond the color.
Paint is magic!
Not really, but it comes pretty close, and a simple color change can make all the difference. Learn to overlook that tired or dated finish. Paint can make a dramatic difference and totally change the overall character of any piece.
The record may be broken, but I’ll say it anyway:
A little paint can be totally transformational!
Especially when it comes to dull or outdated thrift store bargains.
5 Reasons I love my Garden Tool Caddy and consider it a great thrift store bargain:
- Nobody on the plant (probably) has a garden tool caddy like mine!
- Where else can you find a custom garden tool caddy for $3 plus the cost of a little spray paint?
- Not only was a metal magazine basket repurposed, but a few empty food cans were recycled too.
- And those empty cans fit perfectly in the basket.
- I can grab and go with everything I need – no more searching for my garden tools.
In the estimation of this shopper: that’s an exciting Thrift Store Bargain!
Favorite Materials for this project:
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