Thrift Store Shopping Is An Adventure Not To Be Missed!

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Not glazed on the back. OK for display not for food

Not glazed on the back. OK for display not for food

 

 

When I decided that I wanted to do a blog on thrift store shopping I looked online to see what thrift stores they suggested on Yelp. I was so surprised to find that none of the thrift stores that I frequent were not listed. Then I said to myself,”You Dummy, of course they’re not rated by Yelp because everyone who shops at thrift stores wants to keep their favorite a secret!” Actually, I would rather tell you how old I am and how much I weigh than reveal my favorite thrift stores. I don’t need the competition for the goods. Now, don’t go rolling your eyes at my blog because I know it is true!

Hole in a old Hawaiian Rayon Shirt

Hole in a old Hawaiian Rayon Shirt

Behind the desk. Not so valuable!

Behind the desk. Not so valuable!

One of my dearest friends at work asked if she could go thrift shopping with me one Saturday. She had never been in a thrift store and wanted to try it out. She usually shops at Nordstrom’s and this was a big deal for her. I told her to dress in something comfortable, that she could try on clothes over the top of her clothes. I suggested leggings and flats. Bring a small purse and cash. Many thrift stores do not take checks or credit cards. When we arrived at the first thrift store I opened the door and my friend staggered backwards and squeaked “The Smell” Well, she is right most thrift stores smell like dead people (for obvious reasons) and disinfectant used in gas station bathrooms. This is an adventure!! Of course, there will adversity and the smell is one of them. But, fellow junkers, inside those doors lies treasure. Treasure you did not know you wanted or needed but are so happy to take home. PS bring your smart phone to look up prices online.

I head towards the jewelry first, it usually is in the front in a glass case. Because I am sort of an antique dealer and jewelry freak I carry a loupe to check out the marks on the jewelry. You can use a magnifying glass too. Lots of thrift stores have magnifying glasses for you to use. Just ask. Remember, a lot of great jewelry is not marked. But, remember to look at condition. Make sure it is not broken especially the clasp, they can be tricky to fix. Also, behind the desk is usually where they keep their more expensive stuff. Sometimes it is worth the effort to look at it but most of the time no it is not. I like the cheap goods out in the store. Finding them is the thrill that can’t be beat. A lot of the time they keep designer handbags behind the counter too. Most of them are fakes and do not buy them. It is against the law and worse than that it is tacky, really tacky to carry a knock off bag. In a future blog I will interview my niece Megan, who collects vintage Chanel Handbags and works for a very fancy store selling what else? Designer Handbags! She will tell how to spot fakes.image

Tacky and do not but them!

Tacky and do not buy fakes!

After the front counter I work the perimeter of the thrift store just like the grocery store. Usually, this can be quick and get the layout down. I have a mental list of what I like to look at and you will have yours.  I am looking for things to sell, repurpose and keep. Most of my house has been decorated from thrift stores. There are great and usable goods in these stores. Look beyond the dirt and scuffs and see their beauty. I always look for my family too! My brother collects rock and roll records. I always check those out. My husband loves Hawaiian Shirts. Aloha, I have found some great ones. My girls love cashmere sweaters. No problem, they are out there. My boys collect vintage fishing stuff harder to find but I have found it. My one son collects robots and actually that is hard to find. But, I keep eye out for them though. My older son collects leather bound books and those I have found on a regular basis. After finishing the perimeter of the store I go in to the center.

J Crew Cashmere Sweater

J Crew Cashmere Sweater

Clothing. The only clothing I will not buy at a thrift store is underwear. Yucky! Well, I might backtrack a little because vintage slips are so damn cute. I went to a very fancy restaurant at the beach and they had framed vintage swim suits on the walls. Fabulous. Yep, they can be found in thrift stores. Look at the men in your life and grab a tape measure and put there measurements in your phone. I keep mine in the pages app. Have you priced a cashmere blazer lately? Not at a thrift store. Remember, it can be altered for a small fee at almost any dry cleaner. It will be our little secret and you will have saved  hundreds of dollars. Look for name brands and where they were made. I am partial to Italy. Don’t  have a clue about name brands? Take the time to look at Vogue Magazine and GQ Magazine. There is a reason they are called the fashion bibles. I love hand knit sweaters too. Fisherman Knit sweaters that are from Ireland are expensive but not a thrift store!

JCrew Cashmere Swearter

JCrew Cashmere Swearter

Linens. I love vintage linens. I collect vintage pillowcases. So cute. I take my time and make sure they are in good condition. Some stains come out with Biz but some stains don’t. I am not that picky but if you are be careful. Measure your table that you get the right size tablecloth. I will write a blog in the future about tablescapes.

Kitchen Stuff. I saved this for last because it is my favorite area. I love dishes. I really love dishes. I have dishes for every holiday. I have bought most of them from thrift stores. You have to be careful with pottery. If it is chipped, bacteria can live in the unglazed chip. Condition is everything with kitchen stuff. Make sure it is food safe. A lot of pots and pans that were coated with teflon has been found to cause health problems. Don’t buy them. Don’t buy utensils with rust. Yucky. Use your common sense.

Hand Knit Sweater from Ireland

Hand Knit Sweater from Ireland

Finally, Thrift Stores do smell like dead people! Get over it! They don’t make things like they used to and the things they used to make are in thrift stores. The pictures posted on this blog were all found in one day, one thrift store and I will not be telling you where it is either. Go find your own favorite thrift store. It probably is right around the corner

Next blog the Tucson Gem Show!


To Buy or Not to Buy is the Question (Vintage Jewelry)

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Kenneth J Lane Necklace

KJL is always a good buy!

Act One Scene One

Any Estate Sale in America

Actors: The same people you see at every Estate Sale in your town.

7:00 am Saturday

I am in line for a sale that opens at 8:00am. The above actors are in line ahead of me. I beg to ask the question, why can’t they miss one sale? Why don’t they ever get sick? and most importantly, Why are they in line ahead of me? It was the second cup of coffee. I have to have 2 cups of coffee or I can’t function at all. I know I should take a to-go cup but I need both hands at an Estate Sale and not have to use the potty. Most Estate Sales don’t like you to use the bathroom. Men can water their tires but women not so easily! We all smile and nod at each other like we are happy to see each other… Total lie of course, we know exactly what each of us buy. The hardest group are professional pickers to have at a sale. They know what they are doing and they are quick. They also have taken the emotion out and concentrate on the value. Pickers are only interested on making money. The next group are Antique Dealers, they sell and collect. A few dealers actually make a living selling antiques but most have jobs and are dealers on the side. The last group is everyone else. The last group is the group having fun….

Good condition but not signed

Good condition but not signed

8:00am

The doors have opened and everyone has poured into the sale. The frenzy has begun. people are grabbing everything in site. What to do? What to do? Should I take a quick look around? Or, should I start grabbing things that look good? First thing, ask the person in charge is there a jewelry area? Or a special area for the better things for sale? Usually there is. When I get in the jewelry and I see glass jewelry cases with locks this tells me 2 things. First thing, that a professional estate sale person is running the sale.(Deals will be able to be made easier because they are not emotionally attached to the merchandise) and lastly the cases are salted with the Estate Agents own jewelry that they are trying to sell. Buyer beware!!  Many Estate Agents are also dealers, they are counting on “The Estate Sale Fever”… to unload some old dogs. (Jewelry they have had forever!)

Crown Trifari

Crown Trifari

The Estate Sale Fever

We have all had it. If someone says they haven’t, they are lying and ask to see in their garage immediately!! You can’t know it all! YOU CAN’T KNOW IT ALL!!  Repeat this to yourself over and over again when you tempted to buy something that looks valuable but expensive. There are a lot of fakes out there and a lot of reproductions too. You have to do your homework and learn from your mistakes. Smart phones has made it easier to look stuff up but speed is important at a sale. If you are new to Estate Sales it does help to bring someone with you. (Not your husband) All husbands ask the same questions. First, what are you going to do with that? Followed with why do you need that? And ending with, don’t you have one of those already? Leave them at home. I usually bring “Miss Smarty Pants” (Mom). She knows a lot about everything and she is strong… but she has had the fever too.

Missing Stones

Missing Stones

Come prepared

Bring your own bags and wrapping material. I hate admit this but I have broken more things trying to shove them into my car without having them wrapped properly!! I feel so dumb afterwards because I know better. Bring a loupe. If you don’t own one bring a magnifying glass. In my case, my reading glasses. I hate the fact I have to use glasses to see but it can be very valuable if I would like to see something.

Condition is everything

Don’t fall in love, yet…. Look at it closely. Is it broken? Does it have any marks? Does it have any repairs? In jewelry, does it have it’s original chain? Are the stones okay? Have the stones been replaced? Does the clasp work? Put the jewelry on your body. Does it sit right? Does it feel right? Yes to all questions start negotiating the price. If no, let’s hold off on our love for a moment.. Can it be fixed? Can you fix it? Are you qualified to fix it? Are you buying it to wear or sell it?

Missing a clasp. Can you solder?

Missing a clasp. Can you solder?

If you are going to wear it or repurpose it I say buy it if you can get a good price. But if you are thinking of selling it on Ebay or Etsy, it has to be as close to perfect as you can get.  The buyers on line are brutal and they know their stuff. You are not going to fake them out with a replaced stone or a sloppy repair. I know, I have been the victim both buyer and seller on line. Only sell your best stuff on line. Your reputation is everything on line and don’t mess with it ever!!

Okay We are in love!! Let’s buy it!!

I believe it the best way to buy at an Estate Sale is the pile method. They are going to give you more discounts if you are buying more. If you make an offer on something and it is accepted you should buy it. If you don’t buy it, they will remember you at the next sale. Remember that you see the same people at these sales so don’t burn your bridges. Estate sales are above garage sales, they usually have half off on the last day of the sale. Many times I have made an offer on something at a sale and have left my phone number if they decide to take the offer later. Leave your number on a piece of paper with item clearly named on it. Don’t leave a business card, it looks to professional and you won’t get that great of a deal. Why this matters, I don’t know, it is a quirky thing.

Missing pearls easily replaced

Missing pearls easily replaced

Final Act

Mourning Jewelry

Mourning Jewelry

Say thank you when they give you a discount. They will remember you. I have friend who brings donuts to Estate Sales and everyone remembers her!! She always gets good deals too!! So, have fun and I hope you fall in love. My next blog will be at the Tucson Gem Show!! I am so excited!!