How do you spot an exciting thrift store bargain? As they say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, I say “Bargain is in the estimation of the shopper.”
So what one person finds as an exciting thrift store 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.
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How to Identify the Good Stuff
Here’s 4 quick ways you can find great bargains 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 it 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, thank you very much, and so will this basket!
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?
A good way to train yourself to think this way 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!
5 Reasons I love my Garden Tool Caddy
- 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:
Products from Amazon.com
Price: Check on Amazon
Want to show off your shopping savvy? Visit our new Etsy shop for our Bargain Shopper Stencil to make signs, embellish shopping bags, or decorate your amazing thrift store finds!
Want to dive deeper? Check out the Thrift Shopping Like a PRO series for more detailed hacks featuring a new and creative project for each one.
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