Do you want to learn how to thrift shop like a pro? This series of 10 shopping hacks will teach you how to always find the good stuff – so you can!
This post contains affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links. The price you pay, however, will not be affected. Thank you for supporting To Work with My Hands by using these links when you decide to purchase these products. View my full disclosure here.
One of the great things about thrift shopping is that you never know what you might find. So making a list might seem like a crazy tip.
But it isn’t.
What are the chances that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for when you shop? Well, they might be a little more likely than you think.
How My List Worked for Me
Last year I wrote a post explaining the difference between repurposed and upcycled projects. Within that post, I shared a few examples of each process, and one of the repurposed projects, a wine-box-turned-tea-chest, really struck a chord with me.
I’m not a coffee drinker – at all!
But tea…that’s my hot drink passion, and I have a not-so-modest collection of flavors stashed in a kitchen cabinet.
So when I saw how brilliantly a thrift wine box could be repurposed into a tea chest, you wouldn’t believe how quickly a wine box went on my thrift shopping list!
But, really…what would you think my chances of finding one would be?
A few months later, I did!
I may have been tempted to create a little scene right there in the thrift store when I found it. For everyone else who was shopping that day, it was little more than yet another random item on the shelf.
But for me…it was treasure found!
Do you know that feeling when you see something that’s a real find for you and you wonder why it’s still there? Or you grab it like a hoarder before someone else can grab it (as if it means as much to them as it does to you)?
I had great ambitions of making that longed-for tea chest and couldn’t wait to get it home.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen.
I made this instead:
because school was starting soon and the kids really needed a place to store their pencils and pens…
Translation: I was done with the excuse that a pencil just couldn’t be found.
But my tea chest plans didn’t die there.
Would you believe I later found another wine box at the same thrift store???
I absolutely did, and once again, my list-making hack served me well.
And here’s why it’s one of the hacks I depend on to thrift shop like a pro:
Had I not had a wine box on my list of things to watch for when I shop, I’m not certain I would have noticed either of them as anything special.
Maybe I would have seen them, but maybe not. Having it on my list heightened my searching awareness and both boxes made it home with me.
The key, of course, was that a wine box already had a significance to me for a repurposed project.
Now that you see why you need a list, how do you get started making one?
First, you need to have an idea of what you want to put on it. And the best place to start is with ideas or projects you want to make.
Pinterest is every Maker’s friend these days, is it not?
There’s a seemingly unlimited supply of inspiration and tutorials on almost anything you can imagine – and only a click away. Here’s a couple of ways you can use Pinterest to build your list:
- Visit my Thrift Store Finds board to see if anything catches your eye.
- Use the Pinterest search bar. Then use the suggestion tabs to refine your search to even more specific topics.
Of course, you can find lots of inspiration here on the blog too. Check out Thrift Store Finds for ideas.
And remember – you don’t have to make an exact copy of what you’re inspired by. All you need is enough inspiration to “jump-start” your own project. Sometimes just the specific piece is enough to spark a new creative idea.
How to Make a Tea Chest from a Wine Box
This wasn’t a complicated repurpose because the box was already the perfect size to fit a few rows of packaged tea bags. A new face is really all it needed.
First, I removed all the hardware and painted the pieces luscious milky chocolate, using some leftover samples from my painfully indecisive wall-color decision process a while back.
And a side note: Instead of trying to remove the gloss paper decal from the top of the box (because it was attached very well), I used a coating of Kilz before painting.
After three coats, I designed a “tealicious” stencil in Cricut Design Space, cut it out, and stenciled the top of the box.
Interested in designing and making your own stencils too?
- How to Up Your Creative Game with Unique Design has details on the design process.
- Cricut Maker How To: DIY Stencils has details on making them.
To finish, I reattached the hardware (which also got a makeover with gold spray paint), and happy dance…I finally have my longed-for tea chest –
thanks to my thrift shopping list, a little patience, and a stubborn determination to DIY my own.
I hope you’re already writing out a list for your next trip so you’ll be thrift shopping like a pro too!
There’s more! Read How to Thrift Shop Like a PRO for all ten hacks.