Try these Secrets for your next Thrift Store Success

Well hi there!  I'm really happy you are checking in today.   In the world of design and decor I have many obsessions.  This post, however, is all about thrifting.  Thrifting is a skill (and obsession) that I have acquired.  If you put me in a thrift shop 10 years ago, I wouldn't know where to start.  Get me in one now and I know EXACTLY where to go and what to look for.  Get me back in there on a regular basis over a month's time and I might have found enough decor and furniture to fill an entire house!

For me, thrifting is about the thrill of the hunt, and knowing what can be achieved with other people's random, unwanted items.  That is why today I'm sharing with you some tips on thrift shops in this area.  I am happy to share my secrets, but, promise me you'll give them a try?! Please note:  If you are a novice thrifter, please know that the best items will not likely be anywhere in your viscinity on your first outing.  I can go two weeks without seeing anything that appeals to me, despite my ability to look past the ugly. Sometimes even a highly skilled thrifter cannot spot a thing.   But, that is what keeps me going back....because in that third week of searching.......HELLO!  That is when I find key pieces. 

So let's get started.   Here are the stores and recommended items to look for in each: 


It seems no matter the location, items with massive potential can be found at The Goodwill Store.  I do not know about other Goodwill locations, but in Sheboygan, they receive items from Target that Target had to get rid of.  Maybe overstock?  Or clearance items that need to be cleared to make room for new lines arrivals?  I don't know.  But If you happen to go to Goodwill on one of those've possibly hit the jackpot.  I have seen brand new duvet covers (king size!) at a fraction of the full price cost.  Quilts, pillow shams, throw pillows, shower curtains, table cloths, napkins, and bed linens can all be found among the Target "misfit toys" shelf at Goodwill, or very possibly, they find themselves at Novo Decor.   

1. Picture frames and mirrors.  I almost always see a frame with amazing potential at this store.  If you can look past the photos of Buddhas and floral arrangements atop a mauve and hunter green checked tablecloth, then you are ahead of the game.  You can snatch that baby right up, knowing that photo will soon be out of sight, and your new FRAME will be amazing.  Did you know I refurbish all this "old" stuff?  It is something I've always loved to do, and it is the basis for my business.   The photo below shows an old framed canvas that received a make-over with paint.  The frame was a dark wood, which I left untouched.   To see more on how I find frames and use old thrifted pictures,  click on this link:  Turn Old Art into Modern Chic Art.

2. Home Decor:  I recommend checking out the home goods/decor shelves before you leave the store.  This takes quite a bit of time, but it is worth it!   I have had amazing success when searching for baskets, trays, book ends, and vases at this store. The chunkier and more awkward the basket, the more likely it is to end up in my cart!  And maybe yours too!    Check out these awesome baskets that I snatched up....

Furniture:  I've had variable success with finding furniture pieces at Goodwill.  A favorite find of mine is this great bar cart.  I've held onto it and have used it in our home.  Someday it will be a PERFECT piece for a future customer.  For now I'm enjoying it in my office.  Here's a quick look at at: 


Furniture:  Smaller accent pieces have been a hit at this location.  I'm still not over the fact that I passed up an awesome little leather green footstool a while back.  What was I thinking?  Live and learn. Now, when i see a unique piece I grab it.   Larger furniture pieces are hit or miss at this store.  Chairs are also another common piece.   I love little wooden chairs for painting and re-upholstering.  Looking for an eclectic chair mix around your kitchen table?  This is where you'll find your chairs!   Here's an example of a wooden chair I painted and re-upholstered: 

Salvation Army

Large pictures/picture frames:   Old pictures are GREAT for this purpose; painting over them and making your own art, if you're so inclined.  Salvation Army always seems to have giant old pictures with ornate frames that are great for painting.  Just remember this important rule: choose a sturdy piece.  If it's flimsy it probably won't withstand your paintbrush...and might not hang safely either.   See the full post on finding the perfect picture for your next "do-it-yourself" wall art project:     Turn Old Art into Modern  Chic Art 

Nightstands:  I have also found nightstand pairs many times at this location.  Love it when they come in two's!   Even if I find a great nightstand without a matching partner, I may snatch it up depending on its quality and unique features.  

St. Vincent DePaul (Sheboygan)

This location almost always has a gem hiding in the rough.  From furniture to frames and baskets, to fabric and unique decor, this store usually does not disappoint.   The back room is where the furniture and decor are located.  Sometimes I'll cruise through the whole store in 5 minutes, skimming the "hot spots", other times I allow myself a little more time to search.  I have found some of the best things on my 5 minute skimming trips!     My suggestion is to allow yourself at least 30 minutes to look around, especially if you've never "thrifted" before!   You might not know what you're looking for, but with practice, pieces will start standing out and you will learn what deals are worth it or not!   

St. Vincent DePaul (Plymouth)

This store is HUGE and there is so much to look at.  When you enter you might feel a little overwhelmed.  Where to start?  That depends on whether you are looking for something specific, but if you are not, I suggest starting in the back right corner of the store. This is where the furniture is.  Those back shelves are always stocked full of pieces.  This is a great place to find small accent tables, wooden chairs, and table sets.  If painting or staining a kitchen/dining set is in your future, this may just be the place you'll find it.   The shelves along the back of the store are also full of "goodies" like mason jars (the cool teal tinted ones!), pitchers, and fun glass sets.  You may need a full hour to browse this location!   

There are so many great things to be found if we only had the time to look, right?   Remember, it doesn't have to hours.  You might choose one location to start with and skim through it first.  Then choose another location and skim again.  Allow yourself time to acclimate to each store, and soon you will learn what you like.  You might even have beginner's luck and see something immediately that jumps out at you.  That is GREAT!  In my experience it can be hit or miss depending on what you are looking for.  The best success stories seem to be when you are NOT searching for something specific.  If that happens, don't hesitate.  Grab it.  Like I said, I'm still not over the fact that I passed up a green leather footstool!  

Do you have an awesome "find" that you discovered at a second-hand shop?  WHAT?  Many of my finds need "restoration", but there are some diamonds in the rough that don't need a thing done to them (except a little Clorox-ing!) 

Over the next couple weeks I will be posting additional tips and examples of how to find these "diamonds in the rough" , how to use them with your decor, "restoring" them, and how to pull together an entire room using a variety of thrifted finds (the best part!)   I hope you join me! 

See other related posts on Thrifting: 

Thrift Tip #1  

Thrift Store Treasures